Port of Los Angeles Wilmington Waterfront Park
Landscape Performance Benefits
- Reduces potential annual landscape water use 40% by using drought tolerant plantings, artificial turf, and drip irrigation, representing approximately $25,000 in annual savings.
- Removes nitrogen oxides from 2.45 million gallons per day of air that passes across a test panel coated with titanium dioxide. Air pollutant removal will increase as more surfaces throughout the park are coated with TiO2.
- Sequesters 17,500 lbs of carbon and reduces stormwater runoff by 90,300 gallons annually through tree plantings alone.
- Reduces noise levels for C Street residents by approximately 10 decibels, which cuts the experienced sound level in half and improves outdoor environment conditions.
- Generates $27,000 in benefits from 653 newly planted trees — approximately $22,400 in additional property value and $4,600 in environmental benefits.
- Will represent an additional $7,600 in energy savings and CO2 reduction annually by using recycled water for landscape once consistent supply is available.
- Saved $97,500 in hauling costs by reusing approximately 11,700 cubic yards of crushed cement and asphalt waste as paving base throughout the park.
- Created 2,210 one-year full-time equivalent jobs in the Southern California region during construction, and least 5 full-time permanent maintenance positions at the park.
At a Glance
Sasaki Associates, Inc.
Former Land Use
N. Wilmington & C Street
Wilmington, California 90744
As an alternative to a proposed 20-foot high sound wall to protect neighborhoods from industrial noise and activities, Wilmington residents urged the Port of Los Angeles to instead build a community park that would serve as a multi-use landscape buffer. Designers worked closely with residents and the Port to create a park that mitgates noise pollution and offers numerous sustainable benefits, all while providing the community with much-needed open space in a park-poor neighborhood. The elevated landform with its El Paseo Promenade creates views of the port and harbor that had been unavailable to the community until now.
- The 16-ft high landform buffer reduces the impacts of port noise and air pollution on the surrounding residential neighborhood.
- Four pedestrian bridges, including Los Angeles’ first cable-stayed pedestrian bridge, link the park and community across former street right-of-ways.
- Bioswales and 5,000 linear feet of French drain maximize the site’s potential to filter stormwater and allow approximately 75% to infiltrate.
- Subsurface sand chambers in the parking lot remove oils and suspend sediment from the first 3/4” of every storm event.
- To reduce potable water demand, drought-tolerant plant material was used wherever possible, 1.6 acres of artificial turf was installed, and the irrigation system was designed to use reclaimed water.
- “Dark sky”-compliant lighting reduces light pollution for the surrounding neighborhood.
- 156 bike racks and 1.7 miles of paths add pedestrian and bicycle opportunities and connect the park to the California Coastal Trail, a large recreational network.
The design challenge was to transform a former 30-acre brownfield spanning 9 blocks into a cohesive public amenity that would buffer the neighborhood from industrial noise and activities. The design had to integrate the community’s recreational program and sustainable design practices.
With the exception of Hawaiian Avenue, which remains open to vehicular traffic, all of the former north-south streets crossing the park area were closed, reducing industrial traffic that cuts through the residential neighborhood. A gently rising 16-foot high earthen berm was created as a natural sound buffer. Atop the landform, the El Paseo Promenade provides a linear backbone for the park, creating views as well as an east-west bicycle and pedestrian connection. To conserve water, potable water is used sparingly but strategically where it is celebrated through direct contact with visitors. The park was otherwise equipped to use reclaimed water for landscape irrigation.
- By reusing approximately 11,700 cubic yards of crushed cement and asphalt for paving base throughout the park, the material did not need to be taken off-site for recycling or disposal, saving an estimated $97,500 in hauling costs.
- By providing some of the neighborhood’s only elevated, landscaped terrain, the sloped hillsides are more successful as a recreational feature than anticipated. This has increased maintenance demands, with occasional replanting required to sustain those areas of the Park.
- The use of titanium dioxide to remove air pollutants is being tested at the park because the design creates ideal conditions for the catalyst to work: south-facing walls, exposure to sunlight, and being in the direct path of harbor winds that naturally move polluted air across the panel. So far, using TiO2 in tandem with graffiti-proof paint is proving resilient to vandalism.
Design Team Management: Port of Los Angeles - Engineering Division
Project Lead/ Landscape Architect/ Architect/ Civil Engineer: Sasaki Associats, Inc.
Geotechnical Engineer: Earth Mechanics
Bridge Structural Engineering: ARUP
Civil/ Structural/ Site Electrical Engineering: Moffat and Nichol
Structural/ MEP Engineering: TMAD
Water Feature Engineering: STO Design Group
Irrigation: Brookwater Irrigation Design
Methane Design/ Engineering: Dudek
Art Consultant: Fine Art Services
Planting Consultant: AHBE Landscape Architects
Planning and Entitlements/ Permit Expeditor: PSOMAS
Survey & Zoning: Wagner Engineering and Survey, Inc.
Construction Administration: Port of Los Angeles - Construction Division
General Contractor: Griffith Construction
Construction Management: Berg Associates
Role of the Landscape Architect
Sasaki was engaged by the Port of Los Angeles to undertake master planning and design services for the Wilmington Waterfront Park, the first in a series of community open spaces within the Wilmington Waterfront Development Program. Public outreach was instrumental in guiding the project as it progressed over the 3-year period prior to the 2009 construction of the initial park.
Case Study Prepared By
Research Fellow: Alexander Robinson, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California
Research Assistant: H. Myvonwynn Hopton, MLA Candidate, University of Southern California
Robinson, Alexander, and Myvonwynn Hopton. “Port of Los Angeles Wilmington Waterfront Park.” Landscape Performance Series. Landscape Architecture Foundation, 2011. https://doi.org/10.31353/cs0160