On the heels of Field Operations’ successful Tongva Park near Santa Monica’s civic center, the city is prioritizing more public destinations. One of the first is the North Beach Playground, a recreation area located on a narrow stretch of shoreline north of the Santa Monica Pier at Montana Avenue. The area now houses an unremarkable park containing outdated and broken play equipment. Last month the city awarded the commission to local firm Patrick Tighe Architecture, who prevailed over a shortlist that included seven other firms, including Mia Lehrer and Associates and Katherine Spitz Associates.
Tighe said the ocean inspired the park’s design, in which abstract forms evoke sand dunes, ocean creatures, and waves. The landscape—layered with sea grasses, earth mounds, concrete, and rubber—and architectural forms, some made of composites, emerge from the ground plane. The program combines active and passive uses for playing and relaxing, and is intended for both children and adults. “The architecture will hold it all together,” said Tighe, who noted that the design is still very much in process.
The initial design phase for the park has just begun, and construction is expected to be complete by spring 2017. The city is also investigating other beachfront sites near the pier for parks.