AHBE Landscape Architects, an esteemed Los Angeles-based firm known for its expertise in designing thoughtful, evocative landscapes that allow for contemplation and reflection, has created a healing environment at Cedars Sinai Medical Center for patients, hospital staff, and visiting families and friends.
The existing site consisted of a concrete plaza atop a multi-level garage. Using the metaphor of human skin, AHBE developed a multi-layered landscape solution that protects the existing building’s structural and mechanical integrity and accounts for an existing drainage system, emergency access, lighting and way finding, as well as extreme weather conditions. The solution – a unique, green roof-inspired system built onto the plaza’s existing structure – maximizes the impact of the landscape while minimizing construction and alterations to the existing building.
“ The Cedars Sinai Healing Garden Plaza project presented several constraints that encouraged innovative thinking,” explains Calvin Abe, FASLA, RLA, who led the project team on behalf of AHBE Landscape Architects from concept design through construction administration. “The terraces had previously been unused for many years. We aimed to heal the epidermis of the complex by grafting a piece of living, breathing landscape above the existing parking decks.”
AHBE further redefined the space architecturally by creating four distinct gardens – the Garden of Whimsy, Blue Garden, Plaza Garden and Education Garden.
Garden of Whimsy is intended to lift and energize the human spirit. The garden features a sculptural pavilion by Ball Nogues Studio and undulating planters that when illuminated at night creates a scenic view from the patients’ rooms above. The pavilion knits together the landscape environment and creates a defining visual moment for visitors.
Blue Garden is a counterpoint to the Garden of Whimsy. Given its shady orientation throughout the year, this garden is about quiet, coolness and calm. Intended as a meditative place, AHBE located smaller, closely positioned seating areas in the garden for private conversations or solitude. Small circular reflecting pools with custom “firefly” light fixtures are placed throughout the landscape. The garden’s lights will change colors and enhance an experience that replicates serenity in nature.
Plaza Garden is a flexible event space with moveable and convertible furniture that functions as an outdoor cafe for a restaurant and a large courtyard space for tented receptions and larger events. Planters in the Plaza Garden feature textural foliage and large-scaled plants, such as agaves, supplemented with succulents and other shade loving plants.
Education Garden is intended to illustrate to the general public how plants from Mediterranean climates, known as “adaptive natives” with similar rainfall from around the world can be adaptable to Southern California. The garden incorporates spaces for outdoor lectures, health fairs and informal meetings.