Tongva Park + Ken Genser Square
Santa Monica, CA
OTL Creates Urban Oasis in the heart of a Concrete Jungle
In front of Santa Monica’s City Hall sits Ken Genser Square, a space with integrated seating, shade trees and gentle topography which was completed in 2013 and dedicated in honor of former Santa Monica Mayor, Ken Genser.
Across the street is Tongva Park, a lush park with rolling hills and a sustainable plant palette that celebrates the rich culture and traditions of the indigenous Tongva people.
These two public spaces are part of a community-sourced vision for a vibrant new neighborhood that brings the Santa Monica Civic Center area to life. Right in the midst of these developments sits the new Santa Monica Palisades Garden Walk.
Under contract with W.E. O’Neil Construction Company, Outside the Lines (OTL) worked with landscape architect James Corner Field Operations and project water feature designer Fluidity to make this project a reality.
To create a sense of community and connectivity, the two public spaces are connected by a series of water features that were built by OTL to accommodate a range of uses enhancing the space and experience for community members and visitors.
- Fountain Construction
- Concrete Work
The overall concept for Ken Genser Square and Tongva Park is that of nature and water flowing through an idealized and romanticized arroyo wash flowing toward the Pacific Ocean.
One challenge constructing the project was to compliment the art deco architecture of Santa Monica’s iconic City Hall, the project’s design team envisioned the new fountain with a clean aesthetic of flowing lines and minimal joints.
Achieving this vision required OTL to devise a method for precision installation of large precast concrete panels. This task was completed utilizing a gantry crane and special rollers to lift, move and set the precast components onto concrete foundations. The resulting cascading water steps feature numerous internally-illuminated animated bubblers creating an ever-changing variety of patterns and sequences.
One peculiarity facing this project, due to its proximity to the ocean, are the seagulls that consider Santa Monica home. A creative solution emerged in the installation of speakers that play recordings of seagulls in distress; this warns off others from flocking in the water features.
To achieve the project’s oasis-like feel, the team also implemented a long, winding water runnel that runs parallel to one of the site’s walkways from Main Street to Ocean Avenue. While the project is situated beside the Santa Monica Freeway, the water features mask the chaotic noise, enhancing the tranquil environment.
The Santa Monica Palisades Garden Walk won the American Institute of Architects Design Award, as well as the Best Project of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association in 2018.
The water features are located at 1615 Ocean Avenue and 1685 Main Street in Santa Monica, California.