Landscape Architecture Students Participate in 60 Freeway Project

Landscape Architecture Students Participate in 60 Freeway Project
Courtney Embrey and Jennifer Rueda present their design for the 60 Freeway Fairway Drive interchange.
Bahareh Mahgerefteh and Sergiu Capalna share their plan during the meeting.

A few dozen Cal Poly Pomona landscape architecture students and two professors have participated in a consortium of community stakeholders to beautify the 60 Freeway and arterial streets in the cities of Walnut, City of Industry and the unincorporated area Rowland Heights.

A groundbreaking took place May 2 at the Puente Hills Mall to publically inaugurate the project, which has come to be known as “A Project Everyone Can Love.”

Though, the project publically kicked off May 2, Cal Poly Pomona students have been working on their portion of the project since the fall.

The project, which is being spearheaded by the offices of State Assemblyman Bob Huff, State Senator Bob Margett and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, has pulled together several agencies and community groups to pool resources in order to improve the “curb appeal” of the 60 Freeway.

Professors Joan Woodward and Andy Wilcox, who teach junior-level planting design and construction, mentored their students as they were tasked to design landscape for the freeway on- and off-ramps at Fairway Drive in Walnut. Students worked in sets of about a dozen teams. Two groups were granted the opportunity to present their landscape plans to a stakeholders' meeting on March 27 at City Hall in the City of Industry.

The students were challenged to create an aesthetically pleasing design with a minimal budget for upkeep.

Students Courtney Embrey and Jennifer Rueda presented a plan that involved hydroseeding a mix of wildflowers, among other features. They designed their project to emulate the Southern California natural chaparral landscape.

“We would like the project to last for generations to come,” Rueda said during the March meeting.

Students Bahareh Mahgerefteh and Sergiu Capalna spoke for their team, which also included Jared Godett, Lawrence Ziese and Shaun Johnson.

Their plan featured native and adapted plants and configuring the slope of the site to act as a natural way of cleaning water runoff from the freeway. Their plan also called for a beehive, which could create a revenue stream by selling honey as well as a way of keeping the area pollinated.

Only one plan will be approved for the site and a decision has yet to be made. The students are not licensed landscape architects so they can only provide conceptual ideas. Once the consortium of stakeholders chooses a concept, a licensed landscape architect will draft the plan.

The students were well received at the meeting, which was hosted by City of Industry Mayor Dave Perez.

“It was a very productive meeting,” says Gary Neely, Huff's field representative who facilitated the March 27 meeting. “I'd have to say that all of the efforts to date on this project, unselfishly and willingly provided by all of the stakeholders, can only be described as producing a gratifyingly successful project.”

The stakeholders are:

  • CalTrans    
  • Cal Poly Pomona University, Department of Landscape Architecture                
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Works                
  • City of Industry                
  • Rowland Unified School District                
  • Rowland Municipal Water District                
  • Walnut Valley Municipal Water District                
  • Three Valleys Municipal Water District                
  • Rowland Heights Community Coordinating Council                
  • San Gabriel Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce                
  • Industry Manufacturers' Council