Design by Committee

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Two weeks ago, landscape architect James Corner attended the splashy opening of Phase II of The High Line, the disused elevated rail-line that he and his firm James Corner Field Operations helped convert into the now famous park in the sky on the Lower West Side of Manhattan. Last week he was in Santa Monica before the City Council presenting the latest design for their new civic park: Town Square and Palisades Garden Walk. But can Corner deliver anything as exciting as the High Line, especially on a site in a quiet part of Santa Monica without any interesting topography or industrial relics to play with? Even worse—could this design-by-committtee process result in a watered-down concept? Santa Monica's cultural services director Barbara Stinchfield, landscape architect Stephen Billings, and columnist Frank Gruber give their thoughts on Corner's design and the community reaction to it. Then local residents Alex Webb, Nina Fresco, Cosmo Bua, Louise Steiner, Richard McKinnon, Genise Schnitman, and Grace Phillips, plus city councilmembers Gleam Davis and Bob Holbrook, chime in about their hopes and dreams for the park. You can see the design presentation online and as part of the exhibition New Park Design in Los Angeles in Hollywood.

Banner image: Sketch of the Palisades Garden Walk, designed by James Corner Field Operations

ted bardacke and others

Ted Bardacke and others look over Corner's plans for the parks

ralph mechur

Ralph Mechur and others look at the model of the parks

orange bag

Orange bags with notes on the design were placed on the site by Santa Monica residents

merry norris'

Merry Norris and others discuss the park plans

lisa switkin

Lisa Switkin, Fred Fisher, James Corner and Barbara Stinchfield stand on the park's site

james corner barbara stinchfield

James Corner and Barbara Stinchfield at the community comment event