Transforming San Vicente Boulevard: The Sky Sanctuaries

The Sky Sanctuaries is a concept design that envisions the possibilities for a shared streetscape plaza on San Vicente Boulevard between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. It is seen as a protected gathering space that embodies flexibility, innovation, and forward-thinking multi-purpose urban design whilst seamlessly integrating with the Stories: The AIDS Monument project.

Existing Conditions on San Vicente Boulevard

​The Sky Sanctuaries concept by !melk aims to transform this urban artery into a vibrant, multi-purpose public streetscape plaza that embodies sustainability, inclusivity, and innovative design. San Vicente Boulevard has served as a civic gathering space for civic pride events, celebratory gatherings, and protests over the past century. However, the current space lacks shade trees and rest areas along the street, and the City has sought to develop an initial design through community consultation to address public safety, health, wellness, and environmental issues.

At the center of the design are the “Sky Sanctuaries” shade structures with a distinctive form that create “basket scoops” with planted planes that serve a dual purpose as habitat and water cisterns to manage stormwater and promote replenishment of the city’s underground aquifer. The planted planes will be designed using “micro-forests” principles that support regenerative ecosystems, fostering native species and promoting biodiversity.

This project would also include an artist-inspired, education-based nature-watching installation for children at the level of the library terrace or in the library itself, as well as public information kiosks or interactive elements at the street level where the project meets West Hollywood Park.

The Sky Sanctuaries will sit on a “street shelf” that serves as a speed reduction device and enhances accessibility for people with special physical needs. The plaza will curbless” transition to the pedestrian sidewalk with protected bike lanes. The paving evokes the historic railyard with permeable and moveable planters that can be wheeled to function as crash barriers during public events.

The plaza will serve as a flexible gathering space for various cultural activities, events, and celebrations. It will also feature a proposed bicycle depot to enhance mobility options.

​​The Sky Sanctuaries project has the potential to generate substantial economic benefits for the community. It can boost travel and tourism, support small businesses during festivals and events. The preliminary cost estimate for the project ranges from $13.5 million to $18 million, depending on the final scope and funding sources. The project’s operations and maintenance costs are expected to be relatively low compared to other city facilities. To fund the project, the West Hollywood City Council has directed staff to pursue grants and other forms of project funding. The initial conversations with grant and government agencies have been positive, and various funding opportunities in the $15 to $18 million range may be possible.

The project timeline is projected to span several years, with construction completion estimated for 2030.

Landscape Architect: !melk

​Images: Courtesy of West Hollywood City Council

Reference: Sky Sanctuaries: San Vicente Streetscape Plaza Update (February 5, 2024) Prepared By: West Hollywood City Manager’s Department

About Damian Holmes 3267 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 https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/