City Council Report


City Council Meeting: October 25, 2011

Agenda Item: 8-A 

To:               Mayor and City Council 

From:           Martin Pastucha, Director of Public Works

                    Barbara Stinchfield, Director of Community & Cultural Services

Subject:        Design Elements for Palisades Garden Walk and Town Square Project


Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council:

1.     Review and approve the design of the Palisades Garden Walk Overlook Structures  as approved by the Architectural Review Board

2.     Review and approve the streetscape plans for Ocean Avenue and Main Street adjacent to the park areas.

3.     Direct staff to proceed with construction documents.



Executive Summary

On June 14, 2011, Council approved the Palisades Garden Walk design development plans. This report provides Council with updated designs for the overlook structures in Palisades Garden Walk, as approved by the Architectural Review Board as well as the design for the Ocean Avenue and Main Street streetscapes adjacent to Palisades Garden Walk and Town Square. This report also updates Council on the concept design for the public art piece for Palisades Garden Walk by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle.    



The Palisades Garden Walk and Town Square Project, as described in the 1993 Civic Center Specific Plan (updated on June 28, 2005), has two components: Palisades Garden Walk, a new public open space on a vacant six-acre site located directly across from City Hall; and Town Square, the redesign of the front landscape of City Hall, approximately one-acre in size.


On April 13, 2010, Council awarded a design contract to James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) to design the project.  A key factor in the selection of JCFO was the firm’s creative design approach and commitment to engaging the public in the planning and design of vibrant public open spaces.


On June 14, 2011, Council unanimously approved the design development plans for the Palisades Garden Walk component of the project and directed staff to move forward with construction documents. Subsequently the design, colors, and materials for the structures in the park including the restroom facility, the screen walls, the maintenance shed, pedestrian bridge, and overlook structures were presented to the Architectural Review Board (ARB) for their review and approval. Based on feedback from the ARB at a previous meeting, the overlook structures as approved by the ARB on September 19, 2011 have changed from what was presented to Council on June 14, 201.  The revised structures are now presented for Council review and approval. 


Additionally, streetscape plans for the portions of Main Street and Ocean Avenue adjacent to the project have been developed and are now presented for Council review and approval.



Design of Overlook Structures

When the ARB reviewed and approved the design of the other features in Palisades Garden Walk under their purview (the restrooms, maintenance shed, steel planting screens, handrails, as well as all materials and colors) they expressed concern that the Pier Overlook and Ocean Overlook structures were not well integrated into the site, and that the 16.5 foot retaining wall along Ocean Avenue designed to support the structures created a barrier along Ocean Avenue that would be uninviting to pedestrians and passing vehicles.  In response to these concerns, the design of the overlook structures facing Ocean Avenue was refined and approved by the ARB on September 19, 2011 as follows:


·       The steel rib structures have become more elliptical with ribs extending below the      deck of the structures to integrate them with the retaining walls;

·       Larger openings at the viewpoint/edge of the structures have been created;

·       The height of the deck floor of each overlook structure above Ocean Avenue has been lowered by 3 feet to provide a more direct connection to Ocean Avenue;

·       The retaining walls have been terraced with additional landscaping softening the visual impact along Ocean Avenue; and

·       Teak decking and stainless steel dot lights have been embedded throughout the overlook decks to provide a unique, yet subtle, night lighting effect.



Proposed Streetscape Designs

Main Street

To enhance the connection between Town Square and Palisades Garden Walk, the design team has developed a streetscape design for Main Street that will extend from the southern edge of the Main Street Bridge to Olympic Drive South.  The proposed plan includes the installation of new street trees, street lighting, a redesigned median and raised crosswalk. 


Street Trees

The existing nine Podocarpus street trees on the east and west sides of Main Street are proposed for relocation to other parks or streetscape locations within the City. In keeping with the overall tree palette for the parks, Western Sycamores are proposed as the replacement street tree.


Street Lighting

To further connect the two parks, new street lights on both sides of Main Street between the Main Street Bridge and Olympic Drive South are proposed to replace the existing ones.  The new pole lights match the design of the pole lighting within Palisades Garden Walk and consists of an elegant arc shaped pole with a double luminaire, one directed to the sidewalk for pedestrians and the other to the street.  Streetlight spacing would complement the park design and meet safety requirements.


Raised Crosswalk

A new crosswalk is proposed to replace the existing Main Street crosswalk adjacent to the central walkway of City Hall.  The crosswalk would be raised 6” above the level of the street to be at the same height as the adjacent curbs and flanked by planter areas and a redesigned planted median.  This treatment would enhance the drivers’ view of pedestrians crossing the street and would gracefully link Palisades Garden Walk and Town Square.   This new crosswalk design has been reviewed by the Transportation Management Division, key Big Blue Bus staff, and the Fire Marshal.



Ocean Avenue


Sidewalk Widening

Coordination between James Corner Field Operations and Peter Walker Partners has begun with regard to the design of the corner at Colorado and Ocean Avenues where the Palisades Garden Walk and Colorado Esplanade projects overlap.  Options for providing a more generous entry into the park, with a wider sidewalk, through extending slightly over the freeway (a very small “cap”) and/or by utilizing extra space in the roadway, are being explored through this process.



All existing palms would remain along Ocean Avenue in front of the park and four new Ravenea glauca (“Majesty Palms”) would be interspersed between the existing trees to match and complete the existing palm allee, which would protect the continuity of the streetscape, as contemplated by the Civic Center Specific Plan.  No street trees are proposed for removal and no new street lights are proposed for this location.


Public Art Update

On February 16, 2011, the Arts Commission approved the selection of Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle to create a public art piece for Palisades Garden Walk.  Mr. Manglano-Ovalle has gained international recognition at events such as Documenta XII and Art 38 Basel and his artwork is held in a number of collections such as those of Peter Norton, the Guggenheim and Whitney Museums.  In addition, he has received a number of awards and fellowships, including grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts.


On September 1, 2011, the Public Art Committee approved the conceptual design by Mr. Manglano-Ovalle.  The proposed art will create a sculptural “weather field” consisting of a tightly grouped field of vertical poles, with each pole supporting weather instrumentation for measuring wind direction and speed.  The sculpture will be sited near the center of the park adjacent to the “Gathering Hill”.  Mr. Manglano-Ovalle is currently refining the concept and will present a final design for approval to the Arts Commission in December 2011.


Next Steps

Following Council action on plans for the Overlooks and the streetscape design, the design team will complete the construction documents for the park. The next steps are:

·       Complete construction documents (January 2012).

·       Rough grading and compaction of imported soil (spring 2012).

·       Plan check and permitting (spring 2012).

·       Begin construction (May/June 2012).

·       Complete construction (fall 2013).


Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

There is no budget/financial impact associated with this action.


Prepared by:    Jean Bellman, Architect

                        Karen Ginsberg, Assistant Director of Community & Cultural Services





Forwarded to Council:







Martin Pastucha

Director of Public Works





Rod Gould

City Manager

Barbara Stinchfield

Director of Community & Cultural Services