Posts tagged with "Watts":

Placeholder Alt Text

L.A. to fund “green street” and other stormwater projects in Watts neighborhood

Los Angeles County has agreed to fund $4 million in stormwater improvement projects including a “green street” to capture and treat urban runoff in South L.A.’s Watts neighborhood. The funding comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Los Angeles Waterkeeper against the Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District from back in 2008. The lawsuit sought to hold the two entities liable for almost 500 violation of the local Clean Water Act permit along the watersheds for the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers. In a statement accompanying the ruling, Steve Fleischli, senior attorney and NRDC water program director, described the current lack of water treatment strategy as a wasted opportunity, saying, “For years, the urban slobber that’s picked up by rainwater as it flows into drains and waterways has been a real issue for Southern California – a source of pollution that’s also an underutilized supply of reusable water if it’s captured before it picks up all these pollutants.” The coming improvements will include $1.2 million in funding for residential stormwater retrofit projects designed to hold, filter, and store stormwater runoff before it becomes contaminated by street-borne pollutants in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. The program will install so-called “distributed-infrastructure” measures like rain gardens, cisterns, and green roofs on residential sites in these areas to help achieve these goals. A major aspect of the initiative will focus on improving Watts’s 103rd Street corridor, a stretch of the city also known as “Charcoal Alley” that was heavily damaged in the 1965 Watts Uprising, via public right-of-way improvements. The strip will receive a series of upgrades aimed at filtering and sequestering stormwater runoff, as well, including the addition of bioswales, installing porous pavement, planting new street trees, including drought-tolerant and native landscaping, and other parkway improvements in an effort to filter water before it reaches the Los Angeles River. The L.A. River flows with a mix of treated wastewater and stormwater runoff and dumps directly into the Pacific Ocean. A design team has not been named for the projects, but the ruling shines a light on South L.A.’s relative dislocation from the larger L.A. River restoration measures currently underway and represents a positive shift in terms of design equity for the project.
Placeholder Alt Text

Can the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital help heal South Los Angeles?

In 2007, Martin Luther King Jr.–Harbor Hospital in South Los Angeles was shut down after failing a federal inspection. The facility opened to the public in 1972 and served Watts and Willowbrook in the wake of Watts Riots. The groundbreaking was in 1968, the year of the assassination of Dr. King, the hospital's namesake. But instead of fostering healing by bringing good medical care to the community, the hospital was plagued by a series of allegations of poor care and patient deaths. The closing, however, left residents without a full-service medical center. At the time the New York Times reported the tangle of racial politics that led to the demise—a kind of political neglect that still is all too familiar today. “It suffered what has often been called the soft bigotry of low expectations, because the Board of Supervisors were aware that the hospital was being nicknamed killer king by people who lived in the neighborhood and they continued to hide the ball,” Joe R. Hicks, vice president of Community Advocates, Inc., a Los Angeles research group, told the Times in 2007. Eight years later, healthcare has returned to the neighborhood. The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital was officially dedicated in a ceremony led by County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on August 7, just days before the fiftieth anniversary of the Watts Riots. Designed by HMC Architects, the 280,000 square foot, 120-bed facility began operation on July 14. The $210 million community hospital is adjacent to a multi-clinic outpatient center completed in June 2014 and part of a $650 million medical campus. A metal and blue-green glass entrance welcomes patients and visitors. In keeping with studies that show correlations between nature, health, and recovery, the new campus integrates landscape and accesses to natural environments with delighting and a warm color palette. Additionally, over one million dollars in public art projects, funded by the county, are installed throughout the hospital. “We wanted to create a beautiful, efficient hospital that would be as at home in Beverly Hills as in South Los Angeles,” said HMC Architects’ Kirk Rose “Too often economically challenged communities receive poor design, and we wanted to prove with this hospital that aesthetically pleasing, effective design doesn’t have to cost a fortune.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Gehry and (fer) Making Their Mark In Watts

We like to give Frank Gehry a hard time for his foibles, but he has actually undertaken a lot of pro bono work, including a Make It Right home in New Orleans and the Pasadena Playhouse and Jazz Bakery Theater in Los Angeles. His latest effort is in one of the most troubled neighborhoods in Los Angeles: Watts. Gehry Partners has agreed to design a new campus for the Childrens Institute (CII), a social services non-profit. They're collaborating with Inglewood firm (fer) Studio, who will be Executive Architect. The 2-acre, 50,000-square-foot campus, at 1522 East 102nd Street, will be located near the famed Watts Towers, by far the most recognizable structure in the area, and near what was once downtown Watts. While both teams have been working for about three months, the designs are not developed yet, (fer) Studio's Chris Mercier told AN. But the program will include a multi-purpose space, an art room, a kitchen, activity rooms, sports facilities, a tech lab, offices, counseling rooms, and observation spaces. "It will have a friendly, you're ready to relax atmosphere," said Mercier. The varied rooms will be scattered and integrated throughout the center and often connected to the outdoors, making people more comfortable going through counseling. The facility will allow the organization to expand its support services to over 5,000 families in the Watts area, said CII. CII president Nina Revoyr seems optimistic. "We're not going to build Disney Hall in the middle of Watts," she told the LA Times. "But that being said, the idea is that this will be something special." So many efforts to jumpstart the neighborhood have failed in the past, but Revoyr told the Times that the group has "seven figure commitments" for the project, so perhaps this one will move ahead?