MacArthur Park Lost and Found: A Park of Postcards and a Nod to John Woods

Leslie Dinkin, MLA+U/MHC '23

  • SP.21
  • Level: graduate
  • Discipline: Landscape Architecture
  • Instructor: Takako Tajima

For this project, I drew inspiration from hundreds of historic postcards of MacArthur Park and John Woods’ intricate sculptures made up of trash and treasure gathered from the bottom of the lake in the 1970s. In an attempt to find an intersection between these two sources, I started thinking of MacArthur Park more and more as a memory basin for our city, which eventually evolved into a historical botanical garden, which serves as a celebration for both present day and past Los Angeles. These gardens are connected through ramping walkways, the formal topographical strategy I was assigned earlier this semester, that take the park’s visitors almost effortlessly from one era to the next. Like John Woods did in his digs for treasure, I excavated the park, but this time through postcards, articles, reviews and photographs to see what I could uncover. And as John Woods interpreted and translated his findings into sculptures, I interpreted and translated mine into gardens— a garden for almost every decade. Accordingly, my design focuses on the individual experience for the visitor, like a postcard, rather than following any strict geometric pattern.