Santa Monica Unearths Its Civic Heart

Terry Pristin examines two pivotal projects currently under construction in Santa Monica that are poised to reconnect the city's historic civic center to the vibrant, walkable beachfront community.

Comprised of such historic gems as the white “Deco Moderne” City Hall (1939) and the Welton Beckett-designed Civic Auditorium (1958), which was once home to the Academy Awards, Santa Monica's civic center has for years been divided from the city's popular promenade and downtown by the Santa Monica Freeway and "a dreary expanse of parking lots."

"Finally, after many years of workshops and hearings, significant steps are being taken to better integrate this section with downtown," writes Prinstin. "Two major construction projects are well under way, including the first new residential development on Ocean Avenue in many years."

Utilizing land bought by the city from the RAND Corporation in 2000, "the Related Companies and its partners are building a $350 million residential complex that will include 158 condominiums, 160 income-restricted rental apartments and 20,000 square feet of retail space." Adjacent to the Village at Santa Monica, "the city has molded six flat acres of parking lots into a $47 million publicly financed park with hills and fountains as well as two steel-ribbed shell-shaped observation decks for gazing at the ocean and the Santa Monica Pier." The park was designed by "it" firm of the moment, James Corner Field Operations

With the completion of a new light-rail line from downtown Los Angeles expected in 2015, local residents won't be the only ones rediscovering the city's civic center.

Full Story: Long Isolated Behind a Freeway, Santa Monica’s Civic Center Rejoins Its City

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