LA River Rising: 8 New Things We Learned Today About Frank Gehry’s Big Plans For Making Over the LA River

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— Gehry’s months-long pro bono period on the project “appears to be coming to an end.” Gehry Partners partner Tensho Takemori said that going forward the work would be “intense” and that a “dedicated staff” would be needed to complete it.

— Gehry’s aim is to create one “continuous experience” along the LA River, possibly something like a “linear Central Park,” reps told the LA Times.

— Even if it’s not a stretched-out version of NYC’s park, there will be a unifying element on the river, something that links it to the rest of the waterway. “There has to be something that you identify with … whether it’s a type of structure, whatever — there probably is some element that gives you some cohesion,” said Takemori.

— This first stage of the project, which has been largely research-focused, has been centered around creating a three-dimensional map of the river. (No one has ever made one before.) Takemori said that once it’s finished, it is anticipated to be shared with the public.

— The research thus far incorporates information from all the master plans (those from the Army Corps of Engineers, from LA County, the Department of Water and Power, and several other organizations). Since there were so many sources of information, the info was grouped together in related data sets to create “a series of evaluation criteria” that could then be used to “coordinate information” between different, existing master plans, according to the presentation made today.

— Gehry’s team is eventually going to make an online media platform (the LA River Media Platform) that will serve as a database on river research, with all the existing information on the river available in one central place. Having all the information on the internet will also help with community outreach on the project and, it’s hoped, eventually help streamline an approvals process for projects along the river.

— Gehry’s team has identified a “hypothesis” concerning the river’s hydrology requirements. They note that the river is always studied (for public safety and for flood control) in one of two states: when it’s not raining (“dry flow”) and when it’s full with the maximum amount of water that it was designed to hold (“design flow”). Between these two extremes (design flow conditions are present less than one percent of the time), Gehry’s team wants to explore a “middle ground” of an 85 percent storm, the level the water is at or below 85 percent of the time after it rains. A storm like that would put about two feet of water in the river, but leave the “remaining 29 feet of channel depth … unaffected.” That could mean that people could use a lot of that extra space in the river, water could still be collected, and it could all be done without compromising public safety or the river’s flood control capacity.

— The next phase of the project will be finding a balanced solution that will allow greater river access without endangering Angelenos in the rainy season (say, during a big El Niño like the one that’s expected this winter). It will also include a deeper dive into “the hydrology of the river and how ecosystem services, recreation and other factors could fit into possible plans.” The study should take about three to six months and start before the year’s end, the Los Angeles River Revitalization Project’s executive director told KPCC.

Here’s the full presentation:

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