Santa Monica’s new Buffer Park promises much more than what its current moniker suggests. Originally intended to shelter nearby residents from a new Expo Line maintenance facility adjacent to Bergamot Station, the 2.35-acre linear park has evolved into a series of garden “rooms” for quiet contemplation or active play.
Through a series of public workshops, designers Mia Lehrer + Associates identified locals’ priorities for the project and incorporated these into eight activity areas.
Two separate groups of residents came up with nearly identical solutions, which the firm refined and presented in a final workshop.
Buffer Park stretches along Exposition Boulevard between two groves of mature ficus trees, which the city owned prior to the park’s development. “Often when you build a new park you start with small trees, but in this case because the city already owns them we’re able to use these trees as the anchors to the park,” said Jan Dyer, the firm’s director of infrastructure. The park’s various “rooms” include the Meadow, with sloped lawns for picnicking or open play, and the Learning Garden, which features an orchard—Santa Monica will donate the fruit to local food banks—and a demonstration garden.
Construction on Buffer Park will begin in spring 2015, following completion of the Expo Line maintenance facility. As for the name, that’s likely to change, as Santa Monicans consider the many facets of their new green space.