Proposed SoLA EcoLAb Stormwater Park | 3792 Second Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90018
The SoLA EcoLAb Stormwater Park is an environmentally responsible project designed for the community. It offers public park space for the local neighborhood including a children’s play area, outdoor seating, exercise equipment, and natural areas with native plants and shade trees. In addition to providing much needed green space, the park will also serve as an educational model for sustainable urban environments. All plants are drought tolerant, all site materials are water permeable, and all stormwater is retained on site, either to be re-used in the building or to replenish groundwater. Signage will be used to identify specific site features and plant species.
As an educational center focusing on urban ecology, the 12,575 sf SoLA EcoLAb is designed to promote and demonstrate a connection between the building and the natural systems of our environment. Upon entering the building, the reception atrium continues as a passageway connecting the primary public use spaces. This sunlit space is defined along its full length by a vertical garden wall and translucent photovoltaic glass roof panels. The building roofs slope to drain all rainwater onto this passageway roof, which visibly channels the water off the northern end into a catch basin for storage and re-use. The exhibit/lab space features an expansive glass wall to the courtyard and a large skylight. This light, open space is set in contrast with the dramatically dark space of the theater.
The use of clean energy and strategies for reducing the energy needs of the building are both significant components of the design. The roofs incorporate 5,000 sf of solar panels. Exterior window shading, thermal properties of the photovoltaic glass, and operable windows to allow natural ventilation when possible, all contribute to a significant reduction in total building energy use.
The exhibit, theater, courtyard, and adjacent classroom are available as event spaces for community use. These functions are supported by a catering kitchen, service counter, and ample storage. Also housed in the building are separate offices for the non-profit, California Greenworks, Inc. to oversee programs within the facility, and public service agencies.
Rooted in urban ecology, the public education programming takes inspiration from the topics of sustainable energy and water strategies, air quality control, and resource valuing, management, and protection. The EcoLAb provides a variety of spaces for different learning opportunities. The exhibit/lab offers space for hands-on exhibits and projects, such as interactive energy simulations and tables for stormwater experiments, as well as informational displays. Research, demonstrations, and group discussions that may begin in the exhibit can be explored in depth in both the classroom and the courtyard. NOAA’s Science-on-a-Sphere takes center stage in the theater. Taking advantage of flexible space, the building also supports uses ranging from event hosting to temporary art installations that bring a new perspective and experience to a specific topic or related current affairs.