By Kyle Peterson, Architect, LEED AP BD+C, Associate

Currently under construction and awaiting its official groundbreaking ceremony next week, Liberty Community Plaza creates a sense of place and unites Whittier with a new community center and park. The design of Liberty Community Plaza builds on the City’s distinctiveness with an identifiable entry for the community center off the main street, a Veteran’s plaza and picturesque open park space. WhittierRecreation_Camera2-sm

Centrally located near the plaza entry, the community center serves as the hub of Liberty Community Plaza and offers a view of the entire park, enabling staff to supervise activities both in the park and within the community center from the reception desk area. The building is bisected by the central lobby space, which divides the building into separate use zones. Half of the building is dedicated to Helpline Youth Counseling (HYC), whose mission is to serve youth and their families by promoting the development of strong individuals and families in their community through education, therapeutic approaches, advocacy and the utilization of community resources. The other half of the building serves the community through multi-purpose, activity and other meeting spaces.WhittierRecreation_Camera4-sm

Flexibility is important to accommodate all the functions that Los Angeles County’s Parks and Recreation Department offers. A large space with two operable wall partitions enables the County to hold large meetings in one space or up to three smaller gatherings in the same space. These spaces open out to an activity patio that extends the interior space, connecting the scenic landscape of the park with the interior gathering spaces.WhittierRecreation_Camera5-sm

The landscape design features demonstration gardens that educate the community about the native ecosystems of Southern California, while maximizing usable open green space. Native and adaptive landscaping throughout the park provides a low maintenance and low water-use palette that responds to the climate and creates an oasis for the community.WhittierRecreation_Camera3 - Landscape Final-sm

The park amenities cater to the surrounding community’s recreational needs and include a multi-purpose open field, decomposed granite exercise path with exercise equipment stations and play structures. It also includes a small amphitheater for performances and movie screenings.

Liberty Community Plaza is targeting LEED Gold certification, and the project includes a park area and plaza that contribute to two innovative LEED credits: Access to Recreational Facilities and Access to Civic and Public Space. Los Angeles Community Development Commission also elected to fund a new shuttle bus to service the community center and claim the Public Transportation Access credit. The project exceeds T24 energy by 20% and acquires 70% of electricity from renewable energy credits (REC) and green energy sources: wind power, solar PV, geothermal and non-gaseous biomass.

Project Team:

Mark Schoeman, Evan Troxel, Xiang Liu, Beryl Mensonides, Maria Mendoza, Tom Hunter, Jon Richardson, Scott Rogers, Alondra Lopez, Mike Mosakowski, Chris Taylor and myself.