Stretch of LA river famous from Terminator 2 to be revitalised by Perkins+Will

This is a real opportunity to take a huge open space resource – that right now is pretty much off-limits – and transform it into a canvas for the community to express the issues that are important to them
– Martin Leitner, design leader at Perkins+Will's LA office

Plans to revitalise a 19-mile strech of the Lower LA River have been revealed, with new renderings showing how desolate concrete stretches – famously providing the dystopian backdrop to Terminator 2 – could be transformed into vibrant community hubs.

Architecture firm Perkins+Will have worked with the County of Los Angeles, Tetra Tech Engineers and the LA River Working Group – formed of 13 stakeholder communities – to create the Lower Los Angeles River Revitalization Plan (LLARRP) – a “realistic” proposal for the stretch of river between Vernon to Long Beach.

Unlike several other proposals that have outlined High Line-like green-filled trail infrastructure, the LLARRP sets out how incremental alterations to the concrete channel and its banks can more feasibly and effectively reduce flood risk and transform the basin into a “healthy, equitable, and sustainable” community.

“The Lower LA River runs through the southeast county where, by and large, there has been a lot less investment into public spaces and infrastructure and where incomes are generally lower,” Martin Leitner, urban design leader at Perkins+Will's LA office, told CLADglobal. “It also suffers from a huge amount of pollution from the port and shipping.

“As such, this project is a real opportunity to take a huge open space resource – that right now is pretty much off-limits – and transform it into a canvas and a playing field for the community to express the issues that are important to them.

“It’s 19 miles long and, 600ft wide at points, so instead of designing every single piece we have created a toolbox to address certain issues.”

Leitner said that over 80 community and stakeholder meetings have been held; a process which led to the creation of three signature design templates for infrastructure improvements and three signature projects for open space sites.

“We have to work within the parameters of the engineering, what is possible and how to reduce flood risk,” he said. “We can widen and narrow the low-flow channel to accelerate the water flow and intentionally allow it to spill onto the concrete in places, creating types of habitat there, but predominantly our plan is about embracing the existing channel, adding amenities and shade and making incremental modifications that allow people to use the top of the levy, come down and cross to the other side.

“We’ve planned bridges that would bring people, cyclists and horse riders together, separating them from car and truck traffic and creating spaces for art, meetings and events. It’s about creating a cultural and active spine for these neighbourhoods and a continuous high-quality experience, which eventually leads to the stretch of river where it becomes much wider and you get a greater amount of flora and fauna and a more typically bucolic scene.”

The City County of Los Angeles is seeking to revitalise whole stretches of the 51 mile LA River, providing new recreation and open space while also maintaining flood protection and safety, with Frank Gehry and landscape architect Laurie Olin working on an updated county-wide masterplan, building upon the City of Los Angeles’ 2007 River Revitalization Master Plan and the LLARRP.

Last year, local architects Gruen Associates were commissioned by the City to design 12 miles of the LA River Greenway from Canoga Park to Elysian Valley with “a next-generation, LA-specific design aesthetic.”

The greenway design must also include shade elements, stormwater capture features and habitat areas for local wildlife, as well as fencing, gates, lighting, signage and additional educational and interpretive elements.

Lower LA River  Los Angeles  Perkins+Will  County of Los Angeles  Tetra Tech Engineers  LA River Working Group  LARRP  Martin leitner  Frank Gehry 
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Design trio appointed to revitalise LA River Greenway

Plans to revitalise a 19-mile strech of the Lower LA River have been revealed, with new renderings showing how desolate concrete stretches – famously providing the dystopian backdrop to Terminator 2 – could be transformed into vibrant community hubs. Architecture firm Perkins+Will have worked with the County of Los Angeles, Tetra Tech Engineers and the LA River Working Group – formed of 13 stakeholder communities – to create the Lower
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Perkins+Will have worked with the County of Los Angeles, Tetra Tech Engineers and the LA River Working Group to create the Lower Los Angeles River Revitalization Plan / Perkins+Will
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