Studio One Eleven

MOLAA Demonstration Garden

Location: Long Beach, CA
Type: Landscape
Client: MOLAA (Museum of Latin American Art)
An Educational Botanical Garden that Celebrates the Diverse Flora of Latin America

“MOLAA is excited to expand its outdoor experience with this Corner Garden. It allows for the visitor to experience nature and art in a very special and profound way." - Lourdes I. Ramos-Rivas, Ph.D., CEO and President of MOLAA.

The Corner Garden supports revitalization of its Long Beach neighborhood, in the heart of the East Village Arts District. The project site is a former vacant lot of approximately 3,000 square feet, at the intersection of two busy streets, and nestled between a small surface parking lot and an existing apartment complex.

The urban site was left desolate for many years, and the Studio One Eleven team partnered with the MOLAA to transform it into a vibrant, restorative, and evolving space that would serve as an educational garden for museum visitors to learn about the wide variety of plant communities from Latin America.

Inspired by the works of Argentina-born artist, Julio Le Parc, the garden evokes a whimsical experience of journey and discovery much like his kinetic and colorful artwork. There was a great opportunity for the garden to celebrate the vibrant and diverse culture of Latin America.

Whimsical forms create a sense of discovery and surprise as visitors of the Museum journey through the garden learning about the rare Latin American Plants on display.

In order for the garden to showcase its bloom and growing foliage throughout the seasons, plants from two distinct climates were paired together – Mediterranean Climate Plants | summer dry (plants from Baja and Chile) and Sub-tropical Plants | winter dry (plants from sub-tropical Mexico and South America). This concept is called the Dual Climate Concept. When one species is dormant, another is thriving, and then vice versa in the next season.

The beautiful meandering forms in the garden allow for a sense of journey and discovery.

The garden is also a venue for monthly outdoor art workshops, bringing students, museum visitors and the neighborhood together. The transformation has brightened the neighborhood for the adjacent apartment residents who enjoy the garden as if it was their own backyard. In addition to its abundant plant life, the garden has restored poor soil conditions and become a wildlife habitat for numerous species of local insects and birds.

This project was a collaborative effort. The landscape architects teamed with a local horticulturalist with a unique knowledge of Latin America flora to create a thoughtful and diverse plant palette. A specialized landscape contractor amended the site soil and installed the stabilized D.G. path, plants, lighting, and gravel much. A nearby contractor installed the artistic pink fence and a graphic artist painted the signature MOLAA logo on the fence. Working with consultants that live and work in the Long Beach area was important to ensure that the project was completed on schedule and material sources and labor were locally sourced.

The MOLAA Botanical Garden celebrates the rich Latin American plant culture and provides new habitat and resources for local birds, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Thus, introducing more nature in a highly urban and commercial area. The garden is also an example of a shared landscape as it provides views to nature to the adjacent apartment where tenants are able to come out to their balconies and enjoy views to the a beautiful and dynamic garden.

“We are so excited to have designed a garden that is about showcasing and celebrating the vibrant, diverse, and underrepresented culture of Latin America. The plants coalesce in a way that embodies unity through diversity that is indicative to Latin America. The garden is a place for visitors to learn about plants, art, and ultimately enjoy a day in nature.” - Clarissa Lee, Landscape Designer