Test Plot at Baldwin Hills

Studio Group Work (all MLA '22): Andrea Binz, Gabrielle Castriotta, Yue Chen, Kunyang Guo, Asher Guzik, Yuxin Jia, Lara Lebeiko, Jin Ma, Dani Velazco, Yifan Yin

  • FA.21
  • Level: graduate
  • Discipline: Landscape Architecture
  • Instructor: Jennifer Toy

With sweeping views, recreational areas, and large swaths of native plants and wildlife, the Baldwin Hills are a much loved open space and landmark in southwest Los Angeles. Over the course of the region’s development, the role of the Baldwin Hills has shifted dramatically, from foraging ground for the native Tongva people, to sheep and cattle grazing area, to oil field, residential neighborhood, and island of wildlife habitat. Today the area consists of a patchwork of intact native coastal scrub, pioneer and disturbance adapted species, as well as introduced non natives that are being managed to different degrees.

The Test Plot studio addresses the question, what kind of physical intervention and land-based practices can help shape the future of this region? The studio is organized as a group project with shared research, design and labor responsibilities between all students. For this site, students researched the history and cultural uses of plants found in the area - both native and invasive - and developed a test using a matrix of three plant communities representing past (oak woodland) present (coastal sage scrub) and future (grassland). In partnership with LA Audubon and Nature Nexus Institute, students undertook a grow/kill cycle, site preparation, and installation. Students taking a subsequent Directed Research course monitor and test land-based practice in the ongoing tending of the plot. This studio is part of a larger network of Test Plots across Los Angeles.