© Lane Barden
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The Los Angeles River is a peculiar and unique space with tremendous urban and architectural potential for Los Angeles. While nothing more than a trickle in its original and natural form, the river currently provides an industrial and infrastructural conduit that cuts through the city from downtown LA to Long Beach. In 1939 the river was channelized by the Corps of Engineers to prevent disastrous flooding, and therefore allow stable residential development. Neither entirely natural nor manmade, the river has a liminal and sublime existence that is intimately tied to the neighborhoods that adjoin it yet is largely excluded from the urban experience of the city.
Recent efforts to reimagine the river have revolved around the idea of creating a “green zone” or linear park space within the channel, and treating the river essentially as a new “High Line”. This proposal suggests an alternate solution, one that considers the river as entirely indigenous to Los Angeles and seeks to harmonize it as it is with the surrounding city fabric in a site-specific way. Most importantly, the proposal does not seek to create an artificially “natural” environment within the channel nor to create a tourist destination or development opportunity.