Posts tagged Reimagining Los Angeles

It was back in 2011 when AHBE Landscape Architects shared  conceptual renderings of a reopened Bundy Triangle Park.

It was back in 2011 when AHBE Landscape Architects shared conceptual renderings of a reopened Bundy Triangle Park.

When I think about the future for Los Angeles, I envision a city with more walkable neighborhoods. I live in West Los Angeles, a very walkable neighborhood compared to most here in Southern California. But still, the area is lacking in green open space. Everyday I walk past a park on my way to the bus stop – the Ohio Bundy Triangle Park located on the corner of Bundy Ave. and Santa Monica Blvd. – it’s been permanently fenced and locked up by the city. It’s essentially a lost opportunity for open space in a densely populated neighborhood where open space accessibility is a valuable communal commodity for residents.

A community park shouldn’t be caged from its residents.

But there are so many challenges connected with this park. How do you make this open space safe for residents, ease concerns about homelessness, entice visitors, promote pedestrian traffic through the park, yet still provide a park experience while masking the fact that the small park exists within a busy vehicular traffic intersection? A challenge, to say the least!

Photo: Wendy Chan

Photo: Wendy Chan

One side of the park is bordered by a Metro bus stop, and across the street is the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus stop. It’s a busy pedestrian corner. One idea is taking the street back and having the park bleed into the public sidewalk rather than being kept as an isolated floating island.

One side of the park is bordered by Ohio Street which essentially can be closed off since it’s still accessible via Santa Monica Blvd. from Bundy. Programming and community involvement will be a key factor in keeping the park active and well use. There’s already been support to open the park, and it was actually open for one day during Earth Day.

As Los Angeles is moving towards more walkable and densely populated communities, it’s important to continue to fight for open space where communities can gather, play, and breath even if those spaces are smaller and challenging, like the Ohio Bundy Triangle Park.

 Chapman Park Market Building — 3451 W. 6th Street, Mid-Wilshire district, Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #386. Creative Commons photo by Downtowngal.

Chapman Park Market Building — 3451 W. 6th Street, Mid-Wilshire district, Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #386. Creative Commons photo by Downtowngal.

I’ve been thinking about the concept of reimagining Los Angeles lately. There’s been an explosion of development and change happening throughout the city, with new ideas and projects shifting existing spaces into culturally diverse hubs for their communities. From projects that focus on large open space parks such as the new Pershing Square redevelopment in Downtown Los Angeles, to more transit orientated mixed-use open spaces such as the Ivy Station project in Culver City, numerous public projects around the city seem to be thriving and growing alongside new developments.

But there is an area of Los Angeles that hits closer to home…one still fighting for much needed open spaces and recreational park projects to serve its community.

Creative Commons photo: Friscocali.

Creative Commons photo: Friscocali.

The neighborhood I am referring to is Koreatown, an area filled with a rich and diverse history, and also known to be one of the most dense populated districts by population in Los Angeles County. In fact, Los Angeles is home to the largest Korean population in America, beating even other large metropolitan cities such as New York. This immigrant population has infused Los Angeles with a distinct and influential presence, from Korean cuisine to the types of storefronts and developments that characterize Koreatown’s urban landscape.

Korean Fish Roe Rice Bowl (Al Bap/알 밥) in Koreatown. Photo: Gregory Han

Korean Fish Roe Rice Bowl (Al Bap/알 밥) in Koreatown. Photo: Gregory Han

Coming from a Korean background myself and growing up in Los Angeles County, Koreatown has always been a familiar neighborhood. I still visit the same traditional Korean restaurants and see the same store owner and servers I’ve known since I was a kid accompanying my parents. (Tip: I recommend the traditional menu at Yong Su San).

Koreatown's population would benefit by integrating pocket parks – like this one in Mexico City's Colonia Roma neighborhood – throughout its new development corridors. CC BY-SA 3.0 photo: keizers.

Koreatown’s population would benefit by integrating pocket parks – like this one in Mexico City’s Colonia Roma neighborhood – throughout its new development corridors. CC BY-SA 3.0 photo: keizers.

Koreatown is characterized by several shopping plazas and countless storefronts that have remained virtually unchanged since my childhood. Unfortunately, one aspect that I’ve also noted as a constant throughout the years is the lack of open green spaces for the community’s residents and visitors.

The only two major parks that Koreatown currently can claim are the Seoul International Park on the intersection of Normandie and Olympic Ave, and the Shatto Recreation Center on Shatto Place and 5th Street. Those two parks need to serve over 12,000 residents in Koreatown, a population desperate for community green spaces to accompany new development, but sorely lacking.

As I reimagine Koreatown, I envision a new park-friendly neighborhood, one utilizing urban infrastructures to create creative public open spaces. Pocket parks could fill in vacant lots or connecting underutilized corridors between buildings; empty or neglected parking lots would be turned into green spaces. Because as much as the community needs places to shop and eat, current and future residents of Koreatown also need open, community spaces to connect and unwind.