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Orange County Great Park has Winning Landscape Architect






Landscape Architect Ken Smith (left), winner of the competition for the design of Orange County's Great Park (OCGP) on the site of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in Southern Calif., outlines his plans for Larry Agran, chairman of the OCGP Board, and Dr. Steven Choi (far right), also a member of the board. Team members Mary Miss (far left), sculptress, and Mia Lehrer, landscape designer, listen.


"When I was a student, I used to dream of doing a project like this one, but I never actually expected it to happen," said Ken Smith at the ceremony announcing his firm's design as the choice for creating the master plan for the Orange County Great Park. "This is a dream come true--the project of a lifetime."

Chosen from among 38 world-renowned design firms, Ken Smith can now begin work on the master plan with groundbreaking slated for spring 2006. The focus of the firm's winning design was sustainability and creating a space with many different activities that will connect with everyone. "I think of it as having a generosity of purpose," said Smith. "It will be a place where everyone can feel connected to the environment."

Sculptress Mary Miss, another team member, has been creating public art since the 1970s by combining and redefining the boundaries between art, design, archaeology, landscape architecture and urban planning. She created the Battery Park walk as well as New York City's Union Square installation. Mia Lehrer of the landscape design firm, Mia Lehrer + Associates of Los Angeles, works with the development of large urban parks and historic renovation projects. Both Ken Smith and Mary Miss live and work in Tribeca in New York City. They have been working on projects involving remaking lower Manhattan and the Wall Street area--neighborhoods heavily impacted by 9-11. Other team members include Enrique Norten, architect, of TEN Architectos in Mexico, Craig Mitchell Schwitter, engineering designer, of Buro Happold, Steven Handel, professor of ecology and evolution at Rutgers University.

The winning design will utilize the existing streams that have been piped under the base, and create a two-mile-long canyon, 30-feet deep. "We wanted to create a sustainable natural preserve that would be shaded and cool for biking, hiking and walking," said Smith. Among additional spaces will be an amphitheater, athletic fields, a lake, museums and an aircraft display.

Editor's note: Look for the March issue of LASN, which will feature "Finding the Next Olmsted: Charting the Orange County Great Park Process."


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December 10, 2019, 7:49 pm PDT

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