Step It Up

L.A. Chinatown park transforms barren hillside into terraced gardens

City Terrain Landscape Architecture West
A new park proposal by Los Angeles–based AHBE Landscape Architects deploys a series of geometric terraces in order to mitigate a 30-foot elevation change between the opposing ends of its one-acre site. (Courtesy AHBE Landscape Architects)
A new park proposal by Los Angeles–based AHBE Landscape Architects deploys a series of geometric terraces in order to mitigate a 30-foot elevation change between the opposing ends of its one-acre site. (Courtesy AHBE Landscape Architects)

Los Angeles–based AHBE Landscape Architects and the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering have revealed renderings for a new $8.5 million public park slated for L.A.’s Chinatown neighborhood.

The so-called Alpine Park will take over a bare hillside currently marked with rudimentary paths that are heavily used by the local community to cut across the hilly neighborhood. The hillside currently connects a densely-populated cluster of homes and apartment complexes at the top of a hill with a local public library branch down below.

The park will feature a bamboo garden along with other native and drought-tolerant planted areas.
(Courtesy AHBE Landscape Architects)

Evan Mather, principal at AHBE, told The Architect’s Newspaper that the community had been calling for the park for years, explaining that the challenge of the site has “always been about accessibility and the fact that the neighborhood [generally] lacks outdoor open space.”

The park’s uppermost outdoor room—a “heavenly garden”—will feature integrated seating and flat,
paved ares. (Courtesy AHBE Landscape Architects)

In place of the informal paths, AHBE is proposing a series of formal recreational terraces and paths anchored by three outdoor rooms. The composition follows the steeply-sloped site, which climbs over 30 feet in height across its narrowest exposure and over 100 feet between the library and the residential section of the neighborhood. The landscape architects have added a series of staircases, ramps, and an elevator to help with the change in elevation. The stairs anchor the L-shaped pocket park along one end, with a lotus plaza, bamboo garden, and so-called “heavenly garden” located at the bottom, middle, and top of the site, respectively. The three secondary gardens are connected by sloped ramps lined with native Palo Verde trees, roses, bamboo, Chinese Flame Trees and other native and drought-tolerant specimens.

The project is expected to begin construction in early 2018 and open to the public in early 2019.

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