Posts by Wendy Chan

Welcome to our last in a series of Cal Poly Pomona Coastal Resiliency posts, featuring the observations of 4th year undergraduate students in the Landscape Architecture program.

With today’s post we mark the conclusion of our collaboration with the Cal Poly fourth-year undergraduate studio.  In the course of 11 weeks, the students explored both natural and manmade strategies for adaptations and mitigation for coastal resiliency in Long Beach. Almost as important, as practicing professionals we’ve noted we too learned so much from these “bravely curious” landscape architecture students instructed by Professor Barry Lehrman.

The students presented strategies in proposal of applications to their areas of focus in Long Beach during their final presentation at AHBE. We wanted to share with you some of their amazing strategic diagrams, inventory, and analysis these students have been working on during this quarter.

Ecological hotspots in Long Beach Estevan C. and Amanda F.

“Mapping out observed bird sightings in the City of Long Beach, a pattern was shown that not only does the rich ecology try to follow bodies of water, lakes and the ocean, but the areas with the highest density were places with the highest density of people.” – Estevan C. (more…)

I was first exposed to the seminal short film produced in 1977 by the iconic team of Charles and Ray Eames, Powers of Ten as a student of landscape architecture at Cal Poly Pomona. I remember the mind-blowing film even today, one that takes viewers on a visual journey that begins with an aerial shot of a man lounging in a park, gradually zooming upward at scales of 10 further and further away, until the perspective is taken to the edge of the universe. From there the viewer is zoomed back downward back into the hand of the man lounging the park, eventually transported inward into an individual atom within the man’s body.


Welcome to our ongoing series of Cal Poly Pomona Coastal Resiliency posts, featuring the observations of 4th year undergraduate students in the Landscape Architecture program.

The students finished their mid-term review last week, presenting their research, inventory, and site analysis for the city of Long Beach. After forming into five teams, each group explored both soft and hard infrastructure strategies, as well as adaptation and mitigation tactics towards coastal resiliency. It is predicted that in 20 years our sea level will rise by 1 foot. How do we prepare our coastal communities NOW to be resilient towards this climate change? We can no longer respond with familiar strategies and technologies, but we also need to explore new solutions that goes beyond our comfort zone by imagining what resilient urban infrastructure can be.

Students researched mitigation strategies such as the establishment of a living breakwater, a structure designed to shield the coastline and offshore breakwaters by slowing and lessening the impact of sea level rise. Techniques range from artificial reefs, oyster-culture, wetland restoration, and artificial tidal pools. Other strategies for adaptation considered by our student-collaborators included the creation of infrastructure to aid communities prepare and integrate rising sea level through natural system barriers such as wetlands; re-thinking our transportation infrastructure by creating canal-oriented communities was another explored possibility.

Diagram produced by the Cal Poly Pomona Landscape class

Diagram produced by our student collaborators of the Cal Poly Pomona Landscape Architecture program.

Alex W. writes:

As landscape architects, we may be able to implement strategies that do not negatively impact the culture of the coast while also mitigating storm surges and tidal incursions to the communities that live along the shore. The research we have gathered individually and as a class has prepared us to step up into the landscape architect’s number one responsibility: safety toward the user. The difficult challenge we face in attempting to meet this goal is facing nature at the height of its intensity. This will be no easy task.”


See our first Cal Poly Pomona Coastal Resiliency post “Sea Level Rise and Foreseeing the Future” here.


All photos by Wendy Chan

I grew up living in Los Angeles, but I hardly ever ventured into Downtown LA while growing up. I remember visiting the Central Public Library, being in awe by the architecture. I also remember taking the bus with my mom to the Fashion District to get fabric. So when our office moved into Downtown Los Angeles on 7th and Hope over 2 years ago, I was surprised by the walkability and energy that Downtown offered.

I decided to take my camera and walk straight down 7th Street as far as my one hour of lunch allowed to document my experience. I chose 7th Street because it takes you through various neighborhoods and districts within Downtown – from the jewelry, theatre, fashion districts, then finally to the Los Angeles Flower Market before turning back. There are some great finds and artifacts along the way that deserves a double take.















Photo: Wendy Chan

Photo: Wendy Chan

I was on my way back to the office after visiting a project site when my navigation app Waze guided me to an old community landmark. I found myself in Boyle Heights, standing across a cemetery. The cemetery looked like one straight from the movies, but situated in the center of a residential neighborhood. I parked my car, in awe of the field of tombstones before me. I felt a tinge of spookiness, this I was too scared to walk inside. Instead, I peered through the fence, noticing one area of the cemetery was definitely older, its age demonstrated by apparent weathering and the Victorian-style tombstones. There were various tombstones, some even dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. I was intrigued by this historic cemetery sitting in the middle of a densely populated neighborhood.

Bridget “Biddy” Mason died in Los Angeles in 1891 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Bridget “Biddy” Mason died in Los Angeles in 1891 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Evergreen Cemetery has a rich history as one of Los Angeles oldest cemetery. Established in 1877, the current occupants of the 67 acre cemetery and their tombstones tell the story of generations of immigrants and various cultures that added to the fabric of this community. Unlike most other cemeteries of the time, African Americans were allowed to be buried at Evergreen Cemetery. Many prominent African American citizens like Bridget “Biddy” Mason can be found here. The cemetery was also popular with first generation Japanese that called Boyle Heights home; there is a memorial dedicated to the 442 Regimental Combat Unit which was comprised of Japanese-American soldiers were served during WWII. The Garden of Pines was also dedicated in 1966 in memorial of the early first generation Japanese pioneers. During the Obon festival relatives of the deceased would gather at the cemetery to clean their ancestor’s graves and perform the Bon Odori folk dance to welcome the spirits of the dead.

Illustration: History of Los Angeles County, California, Thompson and West, 1880

Illustration: History of Los Angeles County, California, Thompson and West, 1880

The cemetery was also home to members of the early Chinese laborers in the late 1800s, which unfortunately was the only ethnic group banned from being buried in the Evergreen proper at that time. They were only allowed space adjacent to the potter’s field for a fee while their Anglo counterparts were buried in the city-owned section for free. A ceremonial shrine was erected in 1888; in reality the “shrine” was just a brick furnace that Chinese families were relegated to use to burn offerings for the dead to use in their afterlife. Nevertheless, the shrine was used during the Chinese Ghost Festival, a celebration where families would arrive to clean the graves and offer food and wine to the spirits of departed ancestors and friends.

The cemetery was also home to the Jewish community who once called Boyle Heights their home in the early 20th century; it was in 1854, the Hebrew Benevolent Society first established a Jewish cemetery, north of town and west of Calvary, towards the Angelino Heights area. . There is a section called “Showmen’s Rest” where over 400 carnival workers and performers are buried near the Lion topped memorial.


Even its current neglected state, Evergreen Cemetery rates amongst the 25 Things to See at This Sunday’s “Heart of Los Angeles” as rated by Streetsblog LA. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

In the last couple of decades, the community of Boyle Heights has changed from predominately Armenian to Latino. Today visitors can see members of both the Japanese American and Mexican American continually paying their respects and remembrance of their love ones within the hallowed grounds.

When Evergreen Cemetery was first opened, it was during an era when cemeteries were used as a recreational location, similar to a public park. Families would gather at cemeteries for picnics and celebrations especially during Memorial Day. Nowadays, the cemetery has fallen into disrepair with neglect, a lack of funding, and undoubtedly due to new drought restrictions. Instead of the hallmark landscape of a traditional cemetery, Evergreen is anything but green today – a field of dirt and dead trees. The few patches of green are where families and community members have taken it onto themselves to water and care for the graves of their love ones.

Photos: Wendy Chan

Photos: Wendy Chan


The cemetery should be a Los Angeles historic landmark and should be maintained with greater care in respect of the deceased, the families they left behind, and also for the historical significance of our city’s varied residents. The cemetery is a reflection of the diverse history of Los Angeles and the melting pot of cultures that have long called the city home. There was even a petition organized by family members to implore politicians to force a change of ownership in hopes of improving grounds maintenance. For more information about the struggles of the family members and the rich history of Evergreen Cemetery, visit this site.