Magical Water Play
The largest open space area in South Los Angeles, Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park, was once a deteriorated and polluted, yet still heavily used turf and tree park. It’s now a natural oasis of lakes, wetlands and native uplands—a high-performance model of 21st century sustainable design and a restored vital recreation resource for the underserved community of Willowbrook.
The park shows how drought-stricken Southern California might capture and reuse precious stormwater runoff, and demonstrates how aging parks can be renovated for inclusive and equitable use.
The 126-acre site now features a new community event center and offers a variety of experiential settings including nature-infused scenic viewpoints, walking/jogging paths, outdoor classrooms and community social spaces for play (a splash pad!), picnics and weddings.
Two 7-acre renovated lakes recirculate water and protect nearby Compton Creek (and its direct link to the Pacific Ocean) from bacteria and heavy metal pollutants from stormwater runoff. The lakes use both mechanical and natural systems to clean water and create habitat for flora and fauna—and provide recycled water, rather than potable, for irrigation. Landscape highlights include California native coastal sage scrub and freshwater marsh wetland. Other selected materials reduced environmental impact by adhering to LEED v3 standards, including the concrete and decomposed granite walkways, play equipment, site furnishings and all building materials.
The park has received numerous awards and garnered much media coverage, including a video from the Los Angeles Times:
American Council of Engineering Companies: Honor Award
American Society of Civil Engineers - LA: Sustainable Engineering Project of the Year
American Society of Landscape Architects - Southern CA Chapter: Quality of Life Award of Excellence, Honor Award for Parks and Recreation
LA Business Council: Architectural Award for Civic
US Green Building Council Los Angeles, Sustainable Innovation Awards:
Project of the Year
Honor Award Equity + Environmental Justice
Honor Award Water