Did someone mention a lake?

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that any large lot in LA must be in want of a marquee mega-project.

Yesterday, I read critical and uncritical stories about the NFL stadium going up in Inglewood.

Christopher Hawthorne rightfully points out in the LA Times:

How the Kroenke development relates to that boulevard scale may ultimately do more to shape the future of Inglewood than how the stadium turns out or how many Super Bowls it holds.

There seems little risk that Kroenke and the league, with so many eyes on its return-to-L.A. experiment, will allow the stadium itself be anything less than a well-appointed, over-the-top showpiece.

But the housing planned for the eastern end of the site, near Inglewood's existing Darby Park, or the retail buildings on the south side of the lake? It's easy to imagine those elements getting a whole lot less attention, investment and architectural care.

When I saw the accompanying photos in the LAT story, I went "hmmm." That lake looks suspiciously like a moat. Those parking lots? Asphalt moats. This plan looks like an alien spaceship landing to colonize Inglewood.

The uncritical AP story mentions "enormous storm drains" but doesn't dwell on anything but the drum beat of the "must hurry and build now!" narrative.

Open in 3-4 years? Host a Super Bowl in 5? This artificial timetable couldn't be more perfectly designed to preclude a thoughtful exploration of how this new development will relate to the neighborhood around it or the natural ecology of the area.

No one asked, but this scientist wants to put in her two cents.

The LAT showed some beautiful photography of the existing site. These pictures don't look like an empty lot to me. I see permeable surfaces, water and wildlife. The birds see a home.

Put it in context of the surrounding neighborhoods. This area has a surfeit of asphalt. It would be a textbook case of the urban heat island effect EXCEPT for the cooling effect of the greenery and the water of the former Hollywood Park race track.

stadium-site-satellite.jpg

We know that our future will be hotter and drier. What rain does fall will be concentrated into shorter bursts which lead to surface flooding and runoff into the ocean.

Why rush to build 300 acres of impermeable asphalt and roof? It will just create more localized warming, creating a need for more air conditioning, which will create a feedback cycle of more localized and global warming...

Imagine that small artificial lake as a larger naturalized percolation pond for the runoff from the stadium roof and the surrounding area. Criss-cross it with bridges and walkways. See a smaller version of this concept in Redondo Beach.

Imagine those asphalt parking lots as a multi-story water-catcher. Top the parking structures with a park planted with natives and fruit trees.

Stitch the stadium development to the neighborhood with mid-block elevated walkways.

Pump the locally-captured rainwater along with recycled water from Hyperion and West Basin's Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility to create a cascading riparian habitat (and to flush the toilets.)

(I wrote a field trip report about the Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility on my personal blog in 2010. I earned a BS in Chemistry from UC Berkeley and used to work in an analytical chemistry lab. I find water chemistry more fascinating than most other physicists.)

Get creative. That multi-story parking structure could be a water sculpture.

The entire complex could be an urban lung and swamp cooler.

I have no interest in watching the destruction of Centurions' bodies and minds from tax-deductible corporate VIP suites. But, a transit-accessible cool and quiet respite from the city where I can watch children play and eat a delicious meal? That would be my kind of attraction.


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