The 15-year-old park has become a cornerstone of the neighborhood
By Lisa Hardaway
The Landmark Award is bestowed upon a distinguished landscape architecture project completed between 15 and 50 years ago that retains its original design integrity and contributes many benefits to the surrounding community.
Completed in 2008, Vista Hermosa was the first public park built in downtown Los Angeles in over 100 years. Previously an oil field located in an urban area without much green space, the park provides residents of a dense, primarily working-class Latine neighborhood with “a window to the Mountains,” opportunities for recreation, access to nature, and quiet reprieve. The project was a partnership between Studio-MLA and their clients Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“Mia Lehrer and Studio-MLA have always been on the leading edge of landscape architecture,” said ASLA President Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA. “Fifteen years ago, Vista Hermosa Natural Park was ahead of its time in both community social benefits and environmental benefits. Those contributions continue today.”
“Vista Hermosa Natural Park is a perfect example of the impact landscape architects can have for a community—transforming a toxic brownfield to a beautiful community asset.” said ASLA CEO Torey Carter-Conneen. “This park is indeed a landmark of significance.”
“From an environmental perspective, the park is far ahead of its time and full of firsts for Los Angeles. We have a water collection system under the meadow, a cistern beneath a permeable pavement parking lot, green roofs on the restrooms and offices, a synthetic turf soccer field, and drought-tolerant native species throughout the site, organized into three specific habitat areas,” said Mia Lehrer, FASLA, founder of Studio-MLA. “There is a sense of place here, ‘a window to the mountains’ for community and families, quinceañeras, yoga classes, weddings, and a vista of downtown that’s really beloved and featured in films and photos. It was a forgotten oil field in a park-deficient neighborhood, and it has been reimagined into a thriving 10-acre wonderland. In every way, Vista Hermosa is a landmark that has changed the city and the experiences of people who live here.”
The Landmark Award was announced as part of the ASLA 2023 Professional Awards. Thirty-four winners in multiple categories showcase innovation and represent the highest level of achievement in the landscape architecture profession.
Award recipients and their clients will be honored in person at the awards presentation ceremony during the ASLA 2023 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Minneapolis, MN., October 27-30.
The 2023 Professional Awards Jury includes:
Jury 1- General Design, Residential Design, & Urban Design
Chair: Kimberly Garza, ASLA, ATLAS Lab Inc.
Michel Borg, AIA, Page Think
Shuyi Chang, ASLA, SWA
Chingwen Cheng, PhD, ASLA, Arizona State University
Jamie Maslyn Larson, FASLA, Tohono Chul
Garry Meus, National Capital Commission
Jennifer Nitzky, FASLA, Studio HIP
Jury 2 – Analysis & Planning ASLA / IFLA Global Impact Award, Research & Communications
Chair: Maura Rockcastle, ASLA, Ten x Ten
Camille Applewhite, ASLA, Site Design Group
Stephanie Grigsby, ASLA, Design Workshop, Inc
Mitchell Silver, Hon. ASLA, McAdams
Michael Stanley, FASLA, Dream Design International, Inc.
Michael Todoran, The Landscape Architecture Podcast
Yujia Wang, ASLA, University of Nebraska
Joining the professional awards jury for the selection of the Analysis & Planning – ASLA / IFLA Global Impact Award category will be a representative on behalf of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA).
Monica Pallares, IFLA Americas
Also, joining the professional jury for the selection of the Research Category will be representatives on behalf of the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) and the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA).
Sohyun Park, ASLA, University of Connecticut, CELA Representative
Jenn Engelke, ASLA, University of Washington, LAF Representative