Santa Monica Parks
- Location Santa Monica, CA
- Type Public
- Completion 2005
It is well known that Los Angeles County has only a fraction of the park space available to residents of other major cities. In Santa Monica, this contributes to a high intensity of use at the public park system as sports groups and community members compete for time in the limited space.
Selected to create a masterplan, guidelines, and to lead the design and construction of various structures (restrooms, concession stands, maintenance, and storage facilities) on nine LA City parks, kdA took this high intensity of use as a design opportunity to consider alternatives for a variety of new parks buildings. Engaging the fundamental problem of building in the public realm—construction displacing urban flow—the firm employed a strategy of extreme pre-fabrication, reducing building to the smallest number of prefab ‘primitives’ in an effort to minimize the impact and rapidly speed up the timeline of construction in service to the site, city, and various user groups.
The design utilizes a building panel system composed of a thin concrete shell cast onto a light steel stud frame. The concrete is poured into a customized form liner and milled; a process repetitively used for each panel. To minimize the impact of construction on the site, the buildings panels are cast off site and lifted in place complete with exterior finish, door and window frames and some interior finishes. This construction strategy limited both the overall construction period and eliminated the need for scaffolding and staging in sites that have limited clearance around the buildings. A palette of concrete textures from custom-made concrete forms give each building a unique fingerprint, while the color of each panelized component relates to the immediate context.
This approach—to utilize non-identical, site-specific components to address similar programs at different sites—provided the city with a kit of design and construction solutions and a template for future park building and planning.