Soil & Earth Park
The Pacific Rim Park project began on the rugged coast of Russia in May of 1994. Home of the Pacific Fleet, Vladivostok was closed to foreigners from 1930 until the end of 1991. San Diego and Vladivostok officially became sister cities on September 10, 1991. At the invitation of Vladivostok’s Far Eastern State Technical University, James Hubbell and Milenko Matanovic led students from the United States, Mexico, and Russia in a collaborative workshop culminating with the creation of a monument and garden overlooking the city.
The students spent 21 intense days working together to understand each others’ cultural identity so that they could design a park symbolizing their friendship and shared Pacific culture. Since materials and equipment were in short supply, students carried rocks up from the beach. These stones were hand-placed to build a free-flowing amphitheatre with a large mosaic-tiled pearl as the focal point of the design.
The Friendship Gate provides a dramatic view of the Port of Vladivostok and now is regularly touched by students to obtain good luck on their scholastic exams. The park has also become a favorite place for weddings. The park was a joint project of the Ilan-Lael Foundation, Far-Eastern State Technical University, and the City of Vladivostok.