SWA Selected to Lead the Los Angeles-San Pedro Waterfront Connectivity Plan


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The internationally renowned, Los Angeles-based landscape architecture firm will provide a conceptual framework plan to guide future public realm improvements and private development sites, forming a network of well-connected, pedestrian-oriented multi-use spaces.

LOS ANGELES (December 15, 2022) — The busiest container port in North America – the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) – is experiencing growth in an area that cargo ports aren’t typically known for: its public access realm. With a handful of recently built projects and more on the way, POLA’s public facing real estate, the Los Angeles Waterfront, is rapidly transforming into a world class destination, including significant investment in new commercial developments, innovation centers, retail and tourism. Los Angeles-based firm SWA has been hired by POLA to generate a plan that addresses current and future developments by connecting the new assets by way of a vibrant public realm fabric. The aim is to create a cohesive, accessible, and safe waterfront for every visitor, whether accessed on foot, by bicycle, or by motorized transit. The waterfront’s transformation will be centered around the challenge of creating an easily navigable and dynamic experience between these new developments.

With a highly skilled team of engineers and mobility, harbor, economic and outreach consultants, SWA will analyze the site and make recommendations informed by POLA input as well as a series of community outreach efforts, including public workshops and presentations. The design brief aims to improve existing and establish new pedestrian and vehicular thoroughfares, public transit, transportation networks, motorized and non-motorized transportation methods, crosswalks, water access, wayfinding signage, public art, open space utilization, and active programming opportunities that increase flexibility.

“The San Pedro Waterfront is on its way to becoming a truly world-class destination, and we believe that much of it depends on connectivity. It will be transformative to enhance accessibility for locals and visitors alike, to create an easily navigable multi-modal waterfront,” said Gerdo Aquino, SWA’s Co-CEO. “The plan is an exciting next step for the Port of Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles, and the community of San Pedro in strengthening the identity and accessibility of the LA Waterfront and aiding its evolution over the next 50 years.”

The total project area will include eight miles of potentially accessible waterfront edges and over 460 acres of land comprised of existing open space, roads, and developed and undeveloped parcels, as well as an assessment of the highest and best land uses to foster pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular connectivity throughout the area. The scope encompasses land adjacent to the San Pedro community and also includes the Inner Harbor World Cruise Terminal and proposed Outer Harbor Cruise Terminal, the historic Ferry Building, Inner Harbor Beach and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, all of which are part of a the larger LA Waterfront where the Port of Los Angeles has planned investments in excess of $1 billion from 2000 to 2025 that will enliven the area with new retail, restaurants, an amphitheater, entertainment, and open space parks. SWA’s work will include extensive stakeholder outreach in tandem with the connectivity plan’s design.

“Connecting the soon-to-be-built West Harbor dining and entertainment center with the larger Los Angeles region, downtown San Pedro and other LA Waterfront attractions is critical to the synergy we are seeking to create,” said Mike Galvin, Director of Waterfront and Commercial Real Estate for the Port of Los Angeles. “SWA has the expertise and experience in urban waterfront planning to help us develop a comprehensive plan to fully activate the LA Waterfront.”

SWA was selected for its extensive experience in the planning and design of urban waterfronts across the U.S. and its unique ability to elevate the human experience through community- based design and ecological system integration. The firm’s recent waterfront projects include the King Harbor Public Amenities Plan in Redondo Beach, improvements to the Santa Monica North Beach Trail on “The Strand”, the Buffalo Bayou Promenade in Houston and Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park in Queens, New York. The firm’s approach to designing these spaces integrates ecology, mobility, and infrastructure, as well as programming and activation strategies to enrich users’ lives and provide lasting value for generations to come.

“The past decade has witnessed a major transformation of the LA Waterfront from an industrial and trading behemoth to a place full of vibrant destinations, public plazas, memorials, a trolley car, and open space parks. Yet the ‘in-between spaces – the places where people want to walk and ride bicycles – remain undefined and disconnected,” added Aquino. “This effort aims to change that in dramatic and exciting ways.  We look forward to working with the Port of Los Angeles and the community of San Pedro in creating a waterfront fabric that meets everyone’s expectations for a world-class waterfront: engaging, accessible, fun, safe, active, and connected.”

Please find images here.

Image courtesy of SWA group


Founded in 1960, SWA is a world-renowned, 100% employee-owned landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm with a mission to designing for a more livable world. We believe that public realm is an essential part of the infrastructure of great cities, and design parks, streets, plazas, and open space in ways that foster vitality, equity, and resilience. The firm’s work varies in scale and character in keeping with each project’s particular setting and client aspirations. SWA has studios in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Laguna Beach, New York, San Francisco, Sausalito, and Shanghai. For more information, please visit www.swagroup.com.

Image courtesy of SWA group