The American Society of Landscape Architects – Southern California Chapter recognized our Landscape team with 3 Merit Awards for projects that improve the social and ecological function of the urban environment. The Ecohouse Play Yard in Long Beach received an award in the Institutional category, while both the Roost in Santa Ana and the Long Beach Parklet Program received awards in the Commercial category.
The EcoHouse is a state of the art, environmentally‐friendly facility that provides educational childcare services in a secure setting for homeless infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. These services allow families the opportunity to both search for and keep employment or address other social challenges. Located in Long Beach California, EcoHouse is operated by a non‐profit known as Children Today providing trauma‐informed development for local children under age six, who have experienced homelessness, abuse or neglect.
The “backyard” of the EcoHouse facility was formerly a large grass patch with a small, single piece of play equipment disconnected from the main buildings. The design team re‐envisioned the 8,000 square foot rear yard space as a child‐scaled outdoor play oasis for exploring nature and creative play. This area was formerly 100% impervious and now features a central artificial turf lawn for active play and events, a rubberized play surface for toddlers, a shaded outdoor picnic area, and activity courts with accent trees, permeable paving and drought tolerant landscape.
The Roost is a sustainable, adaptive reuse development that reflects a passion for craft, culture and community with a dynamic mix of structures. Initially a collection of diverse pre‐war buildings on separate lots, the project combines back and side yards to create an organic series of connected outdoor spaces which form a small campus of unique structures.
The first of its kind in the City of Santa Ana, the beer garden and kitchen operates out of three shipping containers which create a hip, modern and vibrant environment for guests to enjoy and give the project a modern and artistic attitude. The outdoor dining patio engages the street and creates an inviting “Neighborhood Living Room” along a highly visible portion of Santa Ana Boulevard. The site design features a decomposed granite parking lot, designed to minimize solar heat gain and allow for water infiltration, as well as a series of parkway bio‐swale gardens that filters pollutants and minimizes runoff to the street by capturing stormwater. Drought tolerant native plants and abundant shade trees nestle the buildings into the landscape and provide year round color and interest. In addition, tin ceiling tiles from “The Shop” were repurposed as exterior wall cladding for a new restroom building while warm woods, string lighting and layered landscape soften the industrial character of the existing conditions.
Inspired by Park(ing) Day, the Long Beach Parklet Program was a tactical urbanism pilot project initiated in 2011 deployed by the design team in partnership with the City of Long Beach. The initial pilot involved the construction of three parklets as partnerships between local businesses and the City. Each solution was tailored to reflect the unique characteristics of the corresponding business.
The Program was innovative in providing a spatial solution that yielded multiple public and private benefits. Not only did the parklets provide additional dining space that allowed existing businesses to expand in current locations, they also acted as traffic calming measures that make streets safer and more walkable. With the successful implementation of the pilot initiatives, the City of Long Beach is now integrating the Parklet Program into its formal planning procedures. From an urban design perspective, the parklet concept is an additional planning tool that can be leveraged to revitalize traditional retail corridors and contribute to the “complete streets” concept by calming traffic that then allows bicycles, pedestrians and cars to efficiently share public infrastructure. Most importantly they bring people together making streets safer, businesses more vibrant and establish great community places.