Palisades Garden Walk Plans Coming Into Full Bloom

James Corner's garden walk design garners praise at the city council meeting, while the Town Square plan receives criticism.

Landscape architect James Corner unveiled his updated plans for the new  and Town Square at the  meeting Tuesday night, with the former receiving high praise but the latter coming under some criticism from the community.

Answering council and community feedback on improving the design, Corner has added more bike parking, simplified lighting elements and created an more refined look overall.

The sculptured styles of the four topographical hills within the park are meant to honor the arroyo-style, gullied look that is the land's heritage. Horticultural elements would also be reminiscent of the succulents and grasses native to Southern California.

In Corner’s presentation, there was an emphasis to ensure that all elements and furnishings within the park would be 80 percent wheelchair-accessible, and 66 percent compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Even the restrooms would be appealing to the eyes (and nose), if all goes according to plan. The planned bathrooms would be built into the landscaped hills, and natural breezes from the ocean would be directed to naturally ventilate them.

Each of the four hills would have a theme, and would feature different design elements, like play areas for children, open space for impromptu performances and picnic tables in a natural garden setting.

Though most were supportive of the overall design and look of the park, several items were still addressed as not completely satisfactory to some.

Commissioner Jenna Linnekens of the Recreation and Parks Commission asked for additional restrooms to be placed near the northeast corner of the park, where heavy foot traffic from the upcoming light rail station would demand greater need.

She also suggested that another splash pad planned for the play area would not be the best use of space, because three others already exist in the city and are only used periodically during the year.

Councilman Bob Holbrook also suggested that placing a reflecting pool in front of the main entrance of would emphasize its historic nature, especially since the doorway is one of the most recognizable pieces of the building.

Meanwhile, several community members stepped up to complain about the loss of historic preservation and appreciation in the designs for the town square.

Louise Steiner felt that the design was too cold and “not user-friendly,” saying that, “the public would like to see a bit of Santa Monica left.”

But, on the whole, the overriding sentiments for Corner's designs was positive at the meeting.

“I would actually lick his shoes, I think he’s amazing,” Grace Phillips, a resident, declared.


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