Asphalt to Waterway at Enviromental Charter HS

April 16, 2010 § 7 Comments

Former asphalt area at Environmental Charter High School - Photo: La Loma Development Company

This week I got a chance to briefly visit a small constructed-creek project at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale. The ~400-student school worked with some friends of mine at La Loma Development Comany to remove large swaths of asphalt and create natural landscapes and food orchards. The school has done a lot to use nature and natural/recycled materials to soften the somewhat institutional edges of a typical Southern California campus.

In the middle of the school there’s a recirculating creek/pond (yes – including my sometimes nemesis – a pump), with a small waterfall and wetland plants. When it rains, the pond collects runoff and overflows into a dry creekbed with sycamores and other native landscaping. The area was sun-baked asphalt before; this week it definitely felt calm, cool and soothing. 

Impressive urbanite terraced seating - Photo by La Loma Development Company

I have to confess that I actually visited mostly to check out the La Loma’s excellent broken-concrete (or “urbanite“) amphitheater seating areas. Anyone who has seen my garden knows that I really enjoy working with urbanite – and I expect that we’re going to have plenty of it as we remove excessive concrete from L.A.’s waterways.

The broken concrete work at ECHS is impressive. Five levels of curvaceous unmortared broken concrete seating terraces create an outdoor classroom -somewhat reminiscent of a small-scale Mayan or Aztec pyramid or temple. The main entrance to the school features very beautiful semi-circular urbanite steps.

Curved entrance stairway - photo: La Loma Development Company

It’s impressive what the school has done in a few small spaces. Worth checking out.  You can see some of the work and catch some of the positive energy watching the video below. Also check out more photos at La Loma’s website.

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§ 7 Responses to Asphalt to Waterway at Enviromental Charter HS

  • Erica says:

    I really love this! It’s a perfect blend of solid waste reduction and reuse and protecting water quality. Plus, I checked out your links on urbanite and I think it’s awesome. Thanks for the post.

  • Mike Letteriello says:

    Will definitely pay a visit to this school someday. Love that back to nature stuff on school campuses. That’s our thing. Let me know when you start your calendar of events. We too have a unique space on a school campus that we’d like to further share with the world.

  • David James says:

    Japan should learn from projects like this. Here ( Japan! ) there is plenty of rain, but too much concrete and asphalt in the cities.

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Hi David! Thanks for posting all the way from Japan! Everyone could stand to get out a jackhammer – for all our low-rise development we have a lot of paving here in California.

  • Charlie says:

    Looks amazing! My one comment is, is that water hyacinth in there? That plant can be highly invasive and while it probably won’t get out of control in that little stream, it still probably isn’t the best thing to have around. Some well meaning kids might take it out and toss it in a lake somewhere where it could become a pest…

    • Joe Linton says:

      Yes – it’s water hyacinth. The folks at Loma Development say that water hyacinth, which is definitely invasive and requires maintenance (ie: pull it out and throw it in the compost) is used in their natural ponds. Though it spreads, it also does a great job of cleaning the water.

  • [...] April, I visited a school in Lawndale. I made the multi-modal trip via bus, rail, and bike. I disembarked from the Metro Green Line at [...]

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