A California neighborhood is revitalized as a vacant lot becomes a restorative garden celebrating Latin American culture & ecology

In Long Beach, California, the architecture, urbanism and landscape-design firm Studio One Eleven has unveiled its design for the recently-opened Corner Garden at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA).

In a collaborative effort between MOLAA and Studio One Eleven, a vacant lot at the intersection of Alamitos Ave and 7th Street presented an opportunity to celebrate the rich culture of Latin America by featuring flora from the region.

The urban site was left desolate for many years, and the Studio One Eleven team partnered with the MOLAA to transform it into a vibrant, restorative, and evolving space that would serve as an educational garden for museum visitors to learn about the wide variety of plant communities from Latin America.

The Corner Garden also supports revitalization of its Long Beach neighborhood. The project site is a former vacant lot of approximately 3000 square feet, at the intersection of two busy streets in Long Beach and nestled between a small surface parking lot and an existing apartment complex.

It’s a welcome addition to a burgeoning arts district which includes MOLAA, the Pacific Island Ethnic Museum and proposed Armory Arts Collective (also designed by Studio One Eleven), all located adjacent to one another.

As part of the interpretive program that supports this space, plant identification tags are installed throughout the garden, with Quick Response (QR) codes for additional information about the history, use and important characteristics of the featured plants. There will also be monthly Plein Air Drawing workshops where participants will apply different mediums to their drawings: graphite, charcoal, pastels and watercolors, among others.

MOLAA inaugurated the Corner Garden during Latinx Heritage Month.

We are so excited to have designed a garden that is about showcasing and celebrating the vibrant, diverse, and underrepresented culture of Latin America,” said Studio One Eleven Director, Design, Clarissa Lee. “The plants coalesce in a way that embodies unity through diversity that is indicative to Latin America. The garden is a place for visitors to learn about plants, art, and ultimately enjoy a day in nature.

The garden is also a venue for monthly outdoor art workshops, bringing students, museum visitors and the neighborhood together. The transformation has brightened the neighborhood for the adjacent apartment residents who enjoy the garden as if it was their own backyard. In addition to its abundant plant life, the garden has restored poor soil conditions and become a wildlife habitat for numerous species of local insects and birds.

MOLAA is excited to expand its outdoor experience with this Corner Garden. It allows for the visitor to experience nature and art in a very special and profound way,” said Lourdes I. Ramos-Rivas, Ph.D., CEO and President of MOLAA.

Studio One Eleven seized the opportunity for the garden to celebrate the rich culture of Latin America. Inspired by the kinetic and colorful artwork of Argentina-born artist Julio Le Parc, the garden evokes a continuously shifting journey of discovery and seasonal change.

The planting was designed as a dual-climate concept — combining plants from dry and subtropical climates to create scale, texture and colorful blooms throughout the year. Reflecting the artwork contained within the museum, the plants selected originate from throughout Latin America reflecting a varied and unique garden environment.

This project was a collaborative effort. The landscape architects teamed with horticulturalists, Jonathan Froines and Sarita Jaccard, who have a unique knowledge of Latin America flora to create a thoughtful and diverse plant palette. A specialized landscape contractor, Barranca Landscapes, amended the site soil and installed the stabilized D.G. path, plants, lighting, and gravel much.

A local contractor, Salvage Division, installed the artistic pink fence, and a lettering graphic artist, Corey Wolford, painted the signature MOLAA logo on the fence. Working with consultants that live and work in the Long Beach area was important to ensure that the project was completed on schedule and material sources and labor were locally sourced.

The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) was founded in 1996 in Long Beach, California and serves the Greater Los Angeles area. MOLAA is the only museum in the United States dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American and Latin art.

MOLAA expands the knowledge and appreciation of modern and contemporary Latin American and Latin art through its collection, innovative exhibitions, stimulating educational programs and engaging cultural events. MOLAA is located at 628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach, CA.

All images courtesy of Studio One Eleven.

See Studio One Eleven website.

See MOLAA website.

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