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Rancho Cienega Recreation Center
Baldwin Hills, CA


Julie Smith-ClementI
Bob Hale
Greg Kochanowski
Clayton Taylor
Bob Frederick
Ben Tamuno-Koko
Mike Tramutola
Kwonsoo Kim
Clancy Pearson
Ryan Vasquez


This recreation complex between Exposition Blvd. and Rodeo Road is one of the few public green spaces in this part of Los Angeles, so its athletic fields and courts attract a diverse collection of residents from a wide swath of the city. It's a true center of the community, where people of all ages, races, and economic backgrounds interact. As one community member aptly described it, “here we are not in the business of making athletes, but making citizens.”

Our proposal for renovating this aging complex expands on that notion by reimagining the entire site as a village for the entire community, not just a place of athletic endeavor. Central to that concept are a series of walking/jogging paths that create opportunities for passive recreation. At 100m intervals along these paths are eight “micro-parks,” each with its own unique identity and activity associated with it.
These areas enable intimate, unstructured moments, in contrast with the programmed ball fields that constitute the majority of the site. The site is also characterized by a variety of uniquely identifiable tree groves. A ficus grove shades the park's northern border, while magnolias provide seasonal color along the western front. Tall conifers rise above the soccer field on the eastern edge, creating a visual landmark between the park and adjacent Dorsey High School.

We envision the building that houses the indoor gymnasium and swimming pool as yet another grove of trees. Set atop thin steel columns, an open perforated metal skin wraps the entire roof, creating a diaphanous, light-filled interior and an iconic identity that is visible from either end of the park. Natural grass berms on either side of the building serve as informal bleachers, anchoring and activating the surrounding playfields.