A RIVERFRONT SCULPTURE PARK A major part of the new land created above the rails is devoted to a large public park of approximately 15 acres with native vegetation, passive uses, active amenities, and wide views of the river and the Downtown skyline. Given the adjacency of the Arts Districts and the proximity of Sci-Arc, the park is envisioned as a place to view large outdoor sculptures and exhibit artwork in a series of gallery/maker spaces, which could be simply housed in prefabricated structures in keeping with the industrial character of the site. Along the bank, the sculpture park becomes a stepped promenade forming cascading gardens overhanging the existing channel, making it possible to view the river during high water. The promenade continues to step down to reach the riverbank below and descends into the channel itself as a playful set of stepping stones and filtration gardens that foster habitat, help cleanse the water, and provide access to the riverbed as well as a crossing to the other side during normal flow conditions.
LAYERED SYNERGIES Our concept proposes to express the vertical layering of different uses without entirely segregating them, while finding synergy between them. The existing rails are left uncovered at each end of the site to maintain the visibility of the trains and ends of the bridges, which are such a prominent feature of this part of the city and the history of the river. The infrastructure layer is also revealed at the river’s edge, seen from the accessible riverbed, from the bridges, from the east bank, as well as from the bike path, which is at the level of the tracks. Storage tanks, located between the larger track gaps, are used to store the filtered from the park after it has gone through a filtration layer embedded in the thickness of the lid, which is also engineered to support plants and trees.
TYPE Sculpture River Park and River Crossing
SIZE 34 acres
PROJECT TEAM LARiverWorks Office of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Department of Public Works LA Bureau of Engineering
STATUS completed in 2017
Urban Rivers. With only concentrated durations of rainfall during limited times in the year in cities such as Los Angeles, how may we reconceive of and reutilize our now concrete and channelized urban rivers with multiplicity as we reconsider issues of lack of open green space and connectivity within post industrial cities while still providing essential services and responding to environmental and ecological systems? This is the challenge that we must respond to.
This project examines the relationship between landscape and infrastructure, and the potential to transform single purposed infrastructure into part recreational parkscape, part infrastructural urbanism, part ecological machine, and part water management and flood mitigation engineering. This design proposal seeks to express the state of landscape as a multi-purposed and multi-faceted experiential and infrastructural network; a landscape that creates urban connectivity, that is spatially experiential, that restores our connection to nature in the city, and that creates a multitude of habitat types while serving functional requirements for essential services such as flood mitigation, temporal water detention, and the treatment of urban run off.
The Los Angeles River is re-envisioned as an urban estuary- the confluence of people and natural systems into a cohesive network that unites neighborhoods and ultimately the entire city. Our connection to nature is re-established by making access to this hidden resource as permeable as feasible, and by creating a network of meandering experiential pathways within the middle of the river itself. Neighborhood pocket parks reclaim adjacent vacant parcels along the existing bike path which further integrate the river with its existing fabric. The existing concrete banks are replaced with tiered upper and lower park zones which create intimate opportunities to inhabit and engage the river edge as well as public spaces to gather in the river bank with protected troughs for vegetation.
A variety of natural habitats are created for land and aquatic life through a cluster of islands and pools of varying elevations and depths that treat water as the living organism above, beneath, and within its surface matter. The islands are part concrete, part porous concrete, part custom concrete block revetement system and serve multiple functions - they direct water into separate channels to create habitat, create opportunities for active and passive recreation as well as assist in the mitigation of flood waters. The upper portions are made of open celled concrete blocks of various sized apertures which allow vegetation to nest in as well as receive rising flood water that temporarily detain the additional water volume until the flood water level subsides. These surfaces act like sponges which absorb the additional water volume during storm events. The bottom portions are made of porous concrete, and through gravity, the detained water is slowly released to support the surrounding aquatic habitat as well as serve as additional water supply for the various planted ecotones.
Through the development of a three channel system, rapid, meandering, and placid water velocities further encourage various habitat environments. The three channel system also allows for a variable flood plain which increases the effective channel width as needed. The configuration and treatment of urban edges are conceived of as curvilinear and convoluted compressed zones which foster habitat diversity in plant and wildlife.
Ecological processes are incorporated to treat urban storm water run off through a series of phytoremediation filtration terraces, basins, and runnels. Natural phenomena such as erosion, scouring, and sand deposition are explored as dynamic processes which inform the morphology of a new channel configuration. The islands, pools, and barrier reefs serve as sculptural armatures which engage these powerful processes and provide the framework that allows nature to re-establish, take hold, and self evolve while assisting in the redirection and mediation of flood waters during storms. Sand and sediment deposition are encouraged as means of natural succession to this man made intervention. The design self evolves beyond its initial frame work through the forces of nature.
The proposed restoration of the Los Angeles River, creation of the largest public park in Downtown LA and development of a diverse new neighborhood,while providing flood protection for the communities downstream
The project is a masterplan commissioned by FoLAR for the transformation of a large rail yard located on the Los Angeles River, across from Union Station. The vision created by CHEE SALETTE, as part of the PBY Collaborative, proposes the widening and naturalization of the LA river to restore a diverse natural habitat in the heart of the City. It creates a large public park with direct access to the restored river, which doubles as a flood water detention area. It imagines the development of a vibrant, vertically layered neighborhood along Mission Road, with mixed-use buildings fronting the park and light industrial facilities across the street. The masterplan envisions an arts campus on the other side of the park, adjacent to the Brewery artist colony, and housing on the river bank, overlooking a bridge crossing the railroad tracks and the water and connecting to the Corn Field Park to the north.
TYPE: mixed-use masterplan with a restored riparian habitat and a large public park with flood water detention capacity
SIZE: 150 acres
STATUS: Masterplan completed in 2009
AWARDS: 2011 Westside Urban Forum Honor Award
2011 AIA California Council Urban Design Merit Award
2010 ASLA, Southern California Merit Award
The birthplace of Tucson becomes an everyday, civic, cultural & historic park, home of the January 8th Memorial at the heart of the city
Rebuilt in the early 70’s during the urban renewal of the downtown core, El Presidio Park today is not the vibrant civic space it once was. Its current design is cluttered and largely driven by the parking garage below. CHEE SALETTE’s masterplan restores the urban role of El Presidio Park and reconnects it to the city by creating at its center a true town square, with open view corridors which radiate clear circulation paths with activated edges of continuous shaded seating. This plaza is scaled to be intimate enough to be an urban “living room” and generous enough to host large public gatherings. It is surrounded and animated by the Amphitheater, where people assemble for various civic and cultural events, the Café, the Monument Garden, an outdoor museum where the monuments of El Presidio are assembled, the Hill, where people can relax and picnic on the grass, and the January 8th Memorial at the foot of the historic Old Courthouse. At the heart of the plaza is the restored Clement Fountain, expanded to create a water play area using recycled water collected on site.
TYPE: masterplan concept for the revitalization and renovation of the historic civic plaza over a parking structure to include a restored fountain, an amphitheater, a café, a green overlook, an outdoor museum and the January 8th Memorial
SIZE: 4 acres
STATUS: completed in 2016, Schematic Design in progress
Honoring the victims and survivors of the 2011 shooting at then Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ “Congress on your Corner”
The Memorial is an embrace. In a single gesture, its landforms become healing arms protecting the inner memorial, where the story of January 8 is told. Carved into the landscape of El Presidio Park, the Memorial is a place of contemplation and reflection where visitors can honor the victims and survivors of this tragic event, who were there to engage in democracy, and the first responders who stopped the violence and saved lives. Symbols telling this story are cut and etched into this collective wall of memories, forming constellations that speak of the people who died, survived and responded on that day, and recall Tucson’s history of resilience. In the surrounding gardens, the earthforms of the Living Wall protect the Memorial. It evolves over time and changes with the seasons, yet it is timeless and spans generations, an organic landscape of stone and plants woven in a pattern that evokes ancient basket weaving. People plant seeds in its crevices, where life takes root, a celebration of Tucson’s togetherness in the face of tragedy, and a manifestation of the healing of its community.
TYPE: memorial and surrounding gardens commemorating the victims, survivors, and first responders of the January 8, 2011 shooting
SIZE: 1 acre
STATUS: Construction Documents
AWARDS: International competition awarded in 2015
National Memorial and National Park Service Affiliation Bill introduced in Congress
The transformation of an aging Bay Area housing campus into a vibrant, green and affordable community within walking distance of the BART
The transformation of this vast apartment building campus was part of the largest conversion of market-rate to affordable housing in the history of California. The approach was to not only renovate the facilities but also regenerate the landscape to fundamentally transform the campus as a whole.
CHEE SALETTE designed new exteriors for all 50 buildings as well as an entirely new native landscape including a rain garden, children’s playgrounds and a community garden. The building improvements included the reinvention of the Leasing Office to give the campus a new, welcoming front door. The project also included the complete remodel of the Clubhouse, which was the heart of the community in the 70’s but had since become under used. CHEE SALETTE reimagined the facility to create a new day care center and classrooms for residents, as well as expand and re-energize the Fitness Center.
TYPE: renovation of a market-rate 840-unit housing complex and conversion into affordable housing, including new building exteriors, new landscape, pathways, rain garden and pond, clubhouse and pool areas, playgrounds, dog run and an expanded, remodeled leasing office
SIZE: 32 acres, 50 buildings, 840 residential units
STATUS: completed in May 2014
An existing apartment building for retired persons is given a new identity with a reimagined building exterior and a new drought-tolerant and low water landscape
Due to budget constraints, the geometry of the building exterior had to be maintained. Its transformation was achieved through new facade colors and materials, leaving room to emphasize two features of the property. The first is the garden that fronts the building, which consisted mostly of concrete and a small lawn. It was entirely redone by introducing olive trees and other drought-tolerant and low water vegetation. The second is the central courtyard which opens to the garden and functions as an entry court. The portico marking its entrance was re-cast as a cedar-clad box. Along with the cedar batten screen that covers the blank south wall of the courtyard, these layers emphasize the depth of field from the sidewalk to the to building entry.
TYPE: renovation of an apartment building for the elderly, including a new exterior architecture and landscape
SIZE: Building: 39,000sf, 50 units | Landscape: 4,000sf
STATUS: completed in January 2017