Photos by Brian Addison.
With great design comes great accolades—and the Long Beach Airport (LGB) has been named one of the best small airports in the nation after it scored being named one of the best in the nation period for the third year running by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler last year.
The report read:
“Popular perception might have it that Long Beach is more of a medium-sized airport, as JetBlue arguably made its bones at LGB, but some fairly restrictive noise rules have kept the airport to a maximum of 41 daily commercial flights, and that number doesn’t seem likely to rise dramatically any time soon. The fact that the airport serves one of the world’s biggest cities, is only 18 miles from LAX and hosts airlines that offer flights to a truly solid collection of major airports nationwide put it at the top of many savvy fliers’ favorite lists. Add to these that the airport lies right along I-405 for easy access, and is about four miles from the beach, and Long Beach wins a lot of fans.”
This is not only after the previous two years (and jumping to number 7 this year) but also after receiving the California Transportation Foundation’s Aviation Project of the Year in 2013, being noted as one of the most beautiful airports in the world by the BBC in 2014, honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 2014, as well as a plethora of other recognitions…
Make no mistake, Long Beach: we have one of the coolest flight operations in our back yard.
The airport’s open-air concourse evokes everything about the Long Beach lifestyle. Brilliantly thought out, the space is more like an escape than home to an in-and-out for busy travelers and aircrafts—and that is partly thanks to its landscape design from Meléndrez (y’know, the crew leading that tiny project known as the MyFigueroa project in LA and led the the Bixby Park re-design a few years back).
Take, for example, its use of native plants: the giant beds of Agaves are, according to the landscape architect’s proposal, reflective of the sea while the California Fan Palms recall the iconic skyline of coastal esplanades. Even its spots of lush greenery is meant to evoke the wetlands. Or take the furniture, wooden benches resemble palettes of stacked lumber, designed to remind travelers of the cargo transported at the City’s coastal dockyards. And the wooden walkway that connects the two concourses? It is a nostalgic nod toward the days when wooden piers and boardwalks dominated the Long Beach social scene (and also reminds locals of what The Pike used to be).
Here’s how LGB put it when they won their ASLA award:
“Accommodating functional requirements such as safety, security and circulation, while maintaining an inviting sense of human-scale, was the general design approach for the landscape upgrades. The new outdoor areas were articulated to relax weary travelers, and to make a positive impact on users. Space required for efficient pedestrian circulation was buffered from space required for sedentary purposes to minimize conflict of use, large expanses of required paving were patterned to relieve monotony, and an engaging relationship between landscape and hardscape was created to unify the space and enhance interest. Plant selection, together with appropriate plant layout and efficient irrigation-delivery systems, addressed water conservation considerations, while strengthening the experiential narrative.”
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