Modern Parkitecture

With much public discussion these days relating to infrastructure, economic stimulus, and job creation, the Los Angeles Times recently featured this engaging article concerning the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in our national parks during the 1930’s. In fact, the CCC was also responsible for considerable work in our state parks, exemplified by visitor centers, campgrounds, and restrooms designed in the “park rustic” style of architecture, or “parkitecture” as it has come to be known.

Humbolt Redwoods State Park

While highlighting the CCC’s significance in providing park infrastructure, the story too focused on the Corp’s dual role of creating an infrastructure for the lives and futures of the young men who joined.

“The CCC was a great deal more than a work program,” former National Park Service Director Roger Kennedy said. “It was an education and nutrition program. Most of the people who worked there got the first decent meals in their lives. You could see the people growing, literally, eating good food and working hard outside.”

The spirits of formerly hungry and downtrodden Corp members were lifted through difficult but satisfying work as they labored in the most beautiful natural settings in the nation.

“Environmentalism took its largest forward leap in this country when those people learned it with their hands and with their feet,” Kennedy said.

This newfound connection workers felt for the land appears echoed in designs by National Park Service architects. Park rustic design emphasized the use of native materials such as stone and timber, along with minimal detailing and fine craftsmanship in an effort to connect buildings to local settings and emphasize the natural beauty of the landscape.

State Park architect Amy Schuessler from our Southern Service Center, notes the significance of historical context when considering park architecture and emphasized the continued importance of “speaking to the current moment” in architectural design for our State Parks. That is exactly what she did in her design of the LASHP administrative building which is located at the northern end of the park. “Modular buildings are very popular right now due to the reduction of waste, efficiency, and cost savings associated with off-site construction,” says Amy. In designing the LASHP modular she focused on creating a “green” building through the use of natural lighting and recycled materials such as railroad ties and cemintious fiber board.

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Amy notes that in the mid-1950’s the National Park Service began a program of improvements to National Park facilities entitled Mission 66. Mission 66 sought to address the need for new and improved park facilities during the post World War II years when the population boomed and hit the road to visit state and national parks. Buildings were designed in a contemporary, Modernist style as new and eager visitors poured into parks.

In terms of State Park architectural design, Amy says, “Now is our Mission 66.” Amy’s modern design of the LASHP modular is one that speaks to new directions for California State Parks as we extend our reach to park patrons in urban areas such as downtown Los Angeles where State Parks presence has traditionally been less prominent. Amy notes however, that her design choices, like those made during the CCC era, sought stylistically to tie the building to the historical landscape. Stone gabbions provide solidity to a building that would otherwise appear raised from the surface and the reddish-orange color is reminiscent of box cars and the a nod to the railroad history of the site.

LASHP modular
LASHP modular

For those of us finding the modular a second home, we’d like to thank Amy Schuessler for a stylish design that allows us to enjoy a nice cross-breeze and days spent free of fluorescent lighting. The modular is not only a good-looking addition to our new downtown park but very much in keeping with California State Parks’ overcall focus on creating energy efficient “Cool Parks.” Well done Amy!

So this goat walks into a park…

Goats arrive at LASHP
Goats arrive at LASHP

Compliments of our friends at Farmlab.

Dog of the Week #3

Tigger the dog.
Tigger the dog.

For our third dog of the week, we present Tigger: part pit, part lab, and part chow. She is 15 years old and enjoys her walks around LASHP just as much as her owner does. Remeber that if you want your dog to be dog of the week, keep their leash on while inside the park.

March for Water 2009

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Come to Los Angeles State Historic Park on Sunday, March 22 at 9:00am to march for water conservation and water awareness. From MarchforAwareness.com

This march seeks to help bring attention to the present water crisis taking place all over the world, our nation, the state and the City of Los Angeles. We believe that the current “crisis status” stems from the poor management of this resource at all levels.

We chose March 22nd so our march would coincide with World Water Day. Through this march we take on the commitment to bring people together on this most important topic and resource. While bringing awareness to local issues relating to water, we also have an opportunity to bring attention to world water issues impacting fellow humans around the world.

Only about 2.5 percent of the Earth’s water is fresh and suitable for drinking. Climate change, pollution, and the unsustainable use of water are depleting this limited supply. In Peru, nearly all drinking water comes from glaciers that are melting fast and may be completely gone by 2015. Across Africa, all 667 major lakes are drying up. Lake Chad, once the third-largest lake in Africa, has shrunk by 90 percent.

The march is from LASHP to Rio de Los Angeles State Park (roughly 3 miles), so wear good walking shoes, bring money for food and your own reusable water bottle. Click here for more infomation

Wildflower Update 2/26/09

Here at Los Angeles State Historic Park, the months leading up to spring is a time of color and life. We are just starting to see the rainbow of colors from our state flower the California Poppy, to the delicate white petals of the Desert Tidy Tip. Make sure you stop by soon to see all that the park has to offer.

First bloom of Red Bud
First bloom of Red Bud

Our state flower, the California Poppy with Arryo Lupine
Our state flower, the California Poppy with Arryo Lupine

The delicate Desert Tidy Tip
The delicate Desert Tidy Tip

Sunsets

Sunset
Sunset

Campfire Tomorrow

Campfire on Feb.20th at 5:30pm
Campfire on Feb.20th at 5:30pm

Come on down to Los Angeles State Historic Park for our third Sunset Campfire, tomorrow at 5:30pm. We will be sitting around a campfire, singing songs, learning about the variety of state parks in and around the Los Angeles area, and roasting marshmallows. It is free of charge and fun for the whole family. Meet in the center of the park at the historic round table at 5:30pm, Friday February 20th. Any questions call (323) 441-8819 or email tcarroll@parks.ca.gov

Seasonal Wetland

If you look here and here for a peek at the proposed design for Los Angeles State Historic Park you’ll find that a riparian wetland habitat is envisioned at the Northern end of the park. We hope to create this wetland with water from the Los Angeles River and someday make a physical connection to the river itself. This is no small job and the LASHP team is currently working in partnership with City Council District 1, Planning Department and Bureau of Engineering along with the Army Corps of Engineers, the MTA, and Los Angeles DWP to orchestrate this complex task.

In the meantime, enjoy our seasonal wetland compliments of mother nature…

Seasonal pond and skyline
Seasonal pond and skyline

View from the top of the Watts Towers

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/3271084]

Take a look around atop the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia, California’s smallest state park, and like LASHP part of the Los Angeles Sector. Interested in visiting the park click here for more info

Dog of the Week #2

Precious the dog
Precious the dog

Here is Precious, Los Angeles State Historic Park’s second dog of the week. She is a half lab half pit bull mix. And like any dog of the week, you can’t find her in the park without her leash on.

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