October 24, 2014

Last night two Meléndrez projects and one project by a Meléndrez Principal were awarded at the ASLA Southern California Chapter 2014 Quality of Life Awards: “Landscape Architecture, A Story of Generations”. Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway Concept Plan, Long Beach Airport Terminal Improvements and Principal Charles Anderson’s Anchorage Museum Common at Rasmuson Center all received an award of Merit!

Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway (MANGo) Concept Plan envisions a system of livable streets with enhanced facilities for pedestrian and bicyclists. The project is intended to create an inviting streetscape to provide a safe and comfortable place for neighbors of all ages to walk, bike, relax and interact with one another. It will serve to connect residents and visitors on foot and by bicycle with schools, job centers, and future Metro Expo Line stations and will improve the quality of the environment and enhance the livability of the Pico Neighborhood. As a community oriented plan, numerous stakeholder meetings and a large public workshop and walk audit were conducted, along with a pilot, pop-up and tactical urbanism festival/workshop/installation called PopUp MANGo. The event was the first of its kind in the region, bringing the public planning process to the streets, generating feedback from the surrounding neighborhood, and using direct public comment to craft the final plan. PopUp MANGo gave citizens an opportunity to see and evaluate public realm improvements during the planning process, hands-on.

Long Beach Airport Terminal Improvements integrate open-air spaces that offer respite from the hectic, and often stressful, experience of modern air travel. The landscape design celebrates Long Beach’s unique geography, climate and cultural heritage. The landscape is composed of two intersecting open-air concourses designed to evoke the character of coastal and riparian waterfront in Long Beach. An allee of California Fan Palms recalls the iconic skyline of coastal esplanades that run along the strand. Beneath the palms, undulant beds of Agaves abstract the color and movement of the sea. Wooden benches resemble palettes of stacked lumber, designed to remind travelers of the cargo transported at the City’s coastal dockyards. A view garden offers travelers an opportunity to enjoy the mild and temperate climate amid lush greenery designed to evoke the verdant wetlands that once grew along the City’s rivers and estuaries. Accommodating functional requirements such as safety, security and circulation, while maintaining an inviting sense of human-scale, was the general design approach for the landscape upgrades.

The Anchorage Museum Common, completed by Principal Charles Anderson prior to him joining Meléndrez, serves as the new front door to one of the City’s most important institutions. It also is a new place for people to gather and appreciate the urban space that features art, sculpture and an urbanized nature. The unified goal of the design team was to heighten awareness of, and appreciation for, the museum's extraordinary natural surroundings. Three key parameters defined the design trajectory: a bold presence to provoke interest from the busy surrounding streets, a flexible civic open space, and a “civilized wild” by using native and culturally significant plants. Inspired by the unique coastal lowland landscape, the design concept that emerged became a modernist deconstruction of the deciduous birch forests that surround Anchorage. The dense planting of birches creates habitat in the city and, at a subconscious level, helps visitors create a strong mental connection with the surrounding landscape.  Much like a botanic garden exhibit, an unusual configuration or display of native plants offers a new perspective and way of learning about the function of a given species.