Construction on the former Ambassador College Campus has been going full steam ahead for a couple of years now. Those who have been students, workers, or visiting church members would not recognize a lot of the property now. However, there are still standouts from the past that are integrated into the new design plans. One is the Italian Gardens, the formal sunken gardens that were part of the Academic Center, that are now central to the new multi-million dollar condo complex built around it.
Ambassador Gardens is a 70-unit luxury condominium project built amid historic mansions and gardens in four increments on the grounds of the former Ambassador College Estate on Orange Grove Ave, once known as Millionaire’s Row. The City specifically recognized the rehabilitation of the Italian Gardens, originally built with the Merritt Mansion in 1908 and renovated by famed landscape architect Garrett Eckbo in the early 1960s. During the design of the new development, the Italian Garden was transformed into the central community recreation center. The shallow reflecting pool was reconstructed utilizing the historic tiles and transformed into a swimming pool, while otherwise retaining the historic features. New pool toilets, pool equipment, and disabled access facilities were carefully inserted so as not to detract from the historic fabric and other features of the gardens which were restored to their former glory. After more than a decade of abandonment, this beautiful asset has come back to life as the centerpiece of the estate. The landscape was designed by C2 Collaborative and was completed by Peter Duarte of Studio PAD.