Field Operations, led by James Corner, has been selected to design a 7-acre park that will be the centerpiece of the Santa Monica Civic Center. The New York-based firm, which designed the critically acclaimed High Line park with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, was selected from six finalists including Gehry Partners; Peter Walker and Partners, Studio Works; Gustafson Guthrie Nichol and SWA Group.
The $25 million project involves the re-visioning of two adjacent parcels of land that will connect the civic center area to the rest of the city: a 1-acre Town Square to be used for cultural and civic events and a 6-acre Palisades Garden Walk, which will serve as the front lawn of the future Village mixed use housing development.
While the firm’s selection was widely praised, it was not without controversy. City council members Bobby Shriver and Robert Holbrook raised objections to the selection process, noting that Field Operations was not selected by the client but rather by a panel of peers (all outsiders) that included Qingyun Ma, the dean of the University of Southern California School of Architecture; Marc Fisher, vice chancellor and campus architect of University of California Santa Barbara and landscape architect Ken Smith. Shriver and Holbrook also said also that more than one firm should have been selected to provide a more of a choice.
Construction is expected to begin in 2012.