Landscape Architecture

50th Street Gathering Space, City Heights

The 50th Street Gathering Space is a model for equitable, inclusive community planning. This project’s success is linked to the trust established by City Heights Community Development Corp. over multiple years. City Heights CDC facilitated a community planning process that resulted in solutions and design ideas generated by the community members themselves. These solutions from those closest to the problem are some of the most relevant, sustainable, and empowering.

This community-designed project met a real need: more public gathering space.  By converting a blighted, vacant strip of city-owned right-of-way into a place for community, the 50th Street Gathering Space offers seating for 16 at four tables, three with the tabletop game of Laadhu, a Somali favorite.  Plus, across the street, local artist Haadi Mohamed and mural mentor Siks installed a 250’ wall mural highlighting images of Somali culture. These artists grew up and live in this community. When the mural, infrequently, gets tagged, Haadi immediately paints it out himself. Our planning process designed community ownership into the process to achieve ambitious and far-reaching goals that advance safety, equity, and community cohesion:

  • Legitimize the public gathering of Somali elders, previously perceived as loitering;  
  • Resist anti-Muslim national sentiment by celebrating local culture and creating a welcoming space;
  • Enhance community safety by providing more “eyes on the street”;
  • Calm traffic, along a dangerous road, by incentivizing attentive driving, rather than relying on disincentives such as increased policing; and
  • Demonstrate effectiveness of new city-wide placemaking permit.

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  • Orchid Nominee

  • Project Address:

    5007 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92105

    Project Owner/Developer:

    City Heights Community Development Corporation

    Owner Contact Name/Email:

    Anastasia Brewster / abrewster@cityheightscdc.org

    Project Architect/Designer:

    Somali Action Team; artists: Haadi Mohamed & Rudy Galvan (siks); Rooted in Place Landscape Architecture

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