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Santa Monica's Tongva Park One of Six Finalists in Urband Land Institute Global Award of Excellence for Urban Open Space

Selected Projects Celebrated for Providing Healthy, Vibrant Public Destinations

June 30, 2015 9:35 AM

Santa Monica's Tongva Park One of Six Finalists in Urband Land Institute Global Award of Excellence for Urban Open Space

Santa Monica, CA and New York, NY – The City of Santa Monica and James Corner Field Operations announced that Santa Monica’s Tongva Park/Ken Genser Square Project has been selected as one of six finalists in the Urban Land Institute’s Global Award of Excellence For Urban Open Space, a prestigious annual competition that recognizes outstanding examples of successful large and small-scale public spaces that have enriched and revitalized their surrounding communities.

Santa Monica’s Tongva Park/Ken Genser Square Project was selected based on the fact that the project embodies a new type of urban landscape that is active innovative, resource conscious, and natural. Shaped by extensive public participation, the design by James Corner Field Operations creates a contemporary and transformative series of gardens and active spaces that symbolically redefine and interconnect the center of Santa Monica. The project will now compete against other finalist projects in the US, Singapore, and China.

“Tongva Park enjoyed not only an incomparable location but an unprecedented public process. We developed a true community vision for what had been a drab asphalt parking lot. Working with James Corner Field Operations, and engaging residents and other stakeholders along with our skilled and inspired City staff, we boldly reshaped a new public space that brings our whole Civic Center to life, linking City Hall with the Santa Monica Pier. Watching visitors and families enjoy Tongva Park has been gratifying enough, and our acknowledgement as a finalist in this prestigious global award is an exciting bonus,” said Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown.

Upon opening in 2013, Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square were an instant hit with the Santa Monica community and tourists from around the world. The project has received significant acclaim from both industry critics and popular media. The design for the parks was inspired by the arroyo wash once common in this Southern California region. Through creative use of space, braided pathways, 18’ high overlooks, and a sustainable plant palette that changes dynamically with the seasons, the parks feel much larger than they are, accommodating a wide range of uses and users on a relatively small footprint of just 7 acres.

“It is extremely significant that Tongva Park has been shortlisted for the very prestigious ULI Award. The Park is deserving because it is an exemplary project where extensive public participation helped to shape a beautiful and innovative outcome, and where the surrounding urban fabric has benefited so significantly from this transformation. The Park is today a newly inter-connected center-piece for Santa Monica, both as heartbeat and catalyst for renewal,” said James Corner, internationally-renown designer and head of James Corner Field Operations.

The six finalists were selected from an impressive collection of entries from all corners of the globe. The jury looked at a broad set of criteria that included overall project design and how each project affected or revived its surrounding area, in addition to landscape architecture and urban design. To be eligible for the competition, an open space project must be used intensively on a daily basis by a broad spectrum of users; promote the physical, social, and economic health of the larger community; and provide lessons, strategies, and techniques that could be used or adapted in other communities. The winning project is scheduled to be announced in October 2015.

About the City of Santa Monica & the Tongva Park/Ken Genser Square Project

Santa Monica is an 8.3 square mile city, home to a mix of residential communities and commercial districts. Santa Monica’s residential population is approximately 92,000. Santa Monica is home to the world-famous Santa Monica Pier, Third Street Promenade, and attracts over 6 million visitors annually. The City of Santa Monica is a national leader in environmental, economic, and social sustainability. To connect with the City of Santa Monica, visit, follow @santamonicacity on Twitter, or like CityofSantaMonica on Facebook. For more information on the Tongva Park/Ken Genser Square Project, visit 

About James Corner Field Operations

James Corner Field Operations is a leading-edge urban design, landscape architecture and public realm practice based in New York City.  The practice is renowned for strong contemporary design across a variety of high-profile project types and scales, from large urban districts and complex post-industrial sites, to small well-crafted, detail design projects.  There is a special commitment to the design of a vibrant and dynamic public realm, informed by the interactive ecology between people and nature. Major projects include New York’s High Line; Santa Monica’s Tongva Park; Philadelphia’s Race Street Pier; London’s South Park at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; Chicago’s Navy Pier; Seattle’s Central Waterfront; San Francisco’s Presidio Parklands; New York’s Cornell University Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island; Cleveland’s Public Square; Memphis’s Shelby Farms Park; Miami’s Lincoln Road, The Underline and Knight Plaza; and Hong Kong’s Tsim Tsa Tsui Waterfront.  For more information of Field Operations, visit


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