Santa Monica Municipal Airport (FAA code SMO) is a 227-acre general aviation airport about six miles from the Pacific Ocean that largely handles private and corporate flights. It has been the subject of much controversy and many legal fights due to the noise, pollution, and potential safety threats it generates. After many years of battles between the FAA and the city, the federal government agreed to close the airport in 2028, and the city will convert it to parkland. Despite this decision and Santa Monica’s relative wealth and prosperity, the city is struggling to imagine how it will afford to build and operate a new, large public park. More generally, Metro Los Angeles continues to burn and flood at an increasingly alarming rate due to the rapidly accelerating effects of climate change, homelessness is at a critical level, and the whole state of California continues to put pressure on food, water, and energy supplies in ways that exacerbate the state’s climate- and environment-induced challenges.
The studio is set within this complex environmental and social context, and will explicitly explore the nature of what a contemporary public park can and should be. The studio will take on questions of the role of the public realm within an arid environment, and in an era of climate change. Students will be asked to develop multifunctional park proposals for this large-scale urban site that address critical food and water supply issues, with potential secondary agendas for energy generation, provision of social housing, and/or revenue generation.
This will be a design-oriented, interdisciplinary studio focused on park and landscape design with integrated thinking on infrastructure, architectural elements, and overall urban design strategy. Drawing, modelling, time-based animation, and detailed design will all be expected. Landscape architects, architects, and urban designers are all welcome to participate.