Santa Monica Palisades Garden Walk + Town Square

Palisades Walk + Town Square
The design for Palisades Garden Walk + Town Square has been shaped by an intense and collaborative community process and inspired by the California Arroyo Landscape.   The resultant design scheme, the “Arroyo Wash,” presents a park that will be the new heart of the city.  Fluid braided pathways appear to organically emerge from the entrance of City Hall extending outward and connecting neighborhoods with the Pier, the beach, and civic campus.  Linear rolling topography reinforces the softness of the circulatory system and creates a series of “bluffs” that host overlooks and framed views of the city.   Carved into the rolling topography are a series of “bays” that organize the site’s program and include space for small events and performances, an outdoor café, gardens, play spaces, and bike kiosks.

Palisades Walk + Town Square
Water elements within the park also originate in Town Square and, through a series of runnels, extend into the serpentine, flowing topography of Palisades Garden Walk with increasing turbulence that ultimately softens the sound of traffic along the Ocean Avenue, on the site’s westernmost edge.  An overhead lighting trellis also creates strong linkage between Town Square and Palisades Garden Walk and will be a feature element at the Corner of Ocean and Colorado Avenues.

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Three forest types are grouped over the site:  sycamores, oaks and pines – along with the relocated Ficus trees and other existing trees – creating different canopies for a variety of shade experiences. “Morty” (the large Moreton Bay Fig Tree) is preserved in place within an adjacent picnic grove. The original goal of this project was that the site should become a beautiful garden for the public to enjoy.  To this end, planting on the ground plane will consist of a variety of native grasses, perennials, bulbs and small shrubs that are easily maintained and drought-tolerant, but a colorful and unique complement the site’s softness.

Palisades Walk + Town Square

Palisades Walk + Town Square

Palisades Walk + Town Square


The City of Santa Monica

Design Lead:

James Corner Field Operations; Landscape Architect

Design Team:

Frederick Fisher & Partners Architects; Architect

Buro Happold Consulting Engineers, Inc; Engineer

Fluidity Design Consultants; Water Features

Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, Inc; Lighting

Perry & Associates Collaborative; Horticulture

Greenlee and Associates; Horticulture

Merry Norris Contemporary Art; Public Art Consulting

Wallace Laboratories, LLC; Soils

d.d. Pagano, Inc; Irrigation

Environmental Tree & Design, Inc; Trees

Gardiner & Theobald, Inc; Cost Estimators


Bid Award: Spring 2012

Completion: 2013

IMAGE CREDIT: James Corner Field Operations

Palisades Walk + Town Square
Palisades Walk + Town Square

Palisades Walk + Town Square

About Damian Holmes 3292 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at