Nototomne Park Awarded ASLA Sierra Chapter 2022 Merit Award
O’Dell Engineering is delighted to announce that Nototomne Park has been awarded the ASLA Sierra Chapter 2022 Merit Award under the Research/Analysis/Planning/ Communication/Unbuilt category. During the construction of the River Islands Development, artifacts from the Tomchom village of the Northern Valley Yokuts were uncovered. In light of this discovery, Nototomne Park was born. We loved the opportunity to collaborate directly with the local tribe (Nototomne Cultural Preservation), the designated Most Likely Descendant, the property owner, the City, and archaeologists familiar with the dig on this site.
The design intent is to transport park patrons back in time to a historical San Joaquin Valley landscape through modern recreational amenities. Instead of a museum-like approach, cultural aspects of the indigenous people’s daily lives were used as tactful and authentic guiding forces behind design decisions. These are realized through features such as shaping the lawn area into a “Stockton Curve,” the unique shape of carved obsidian found only in this part of the San Joaquin Valley. Another example
is evident in the picnic areas which protrude into the lawn, forming a pattern similar to the feather headdresses worn during important ritual ceremonies. Furthermore, instead of a conventional playground, play areas become a primary method of educating the public and providing socially inclusive and sensory-integrated opportunities for play.
The play areas, located along a riverine path that gradually elevates play to nearly six feet, are each focused on telling a story from one of five different elements of the Yokuts’ lifestyle, including: home life, belief/culture, games/leisure, the river, and the land. Two additional features of the park focus on facets of the Yokuts’ lifestyle, including a memorial and a symbolic shade structure. In contrast to many historical Native American memorials, this one focuses on social equality through the strength of women in the tribe and their contributions to it. The shade structure design is derived from one of the tribe’s origin stories.
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