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Nature and Concrete Blend to Beautify Street Medians


Published Apr 4, 2016 8:00 AM

UCLA Extension students create prizewinning design for a drought-tolerant landscape.

The winning median design, submitted by a team of UCLA Extension students.

Soon, gridlocked commuters on San Vicente Boulevard will have something to look at besides the closest pair of brake lights: medians planted with a colorful array of drought-tolerant California native flora, courtesy of a team of UCLA Extension students.

The plan created by the team from the Landscape Architecture Program was recently selected as the university-level winner in the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works’ Median Design Competition. The contest, which carries a $2,500 prize, challenged student teams from universities and community colleges to submit design concepts to improve median conditions and increase drought awareness.

The winning concept, which took the team 300 hours to create, uses concrete blocks along the median's length to provide visual interest, as well as slow the flow of storm water. The water then percolates into a below-grade retention system for future irrigation.

The plan employs easily reproducible materials and processes, along with California native plants, including desert willow, California gray rush and Pacific stonecrop. The students envisioned the blending of concrete and organic forms as a visual metaphor for a harmonious blending of the city’s built and natural environments.

Now the Board of Public Works has invited the 10-person UCLA team to prepare the initial concepts for the first two demonstration projects, to be located near Pico Boulevard. A construction schedule is pending.

The Landscape Architecture Program at UCLA Extension is a rigorous three-year evening and weekend program tailored for working professionals.

On March 30, the board recognized the students at a ceremony at City Hall. The prize money will benefit the Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects at UCLA Extension.

This story is based on an article in the UCLA Newsroom. To view the original full-length article visit



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