Whole Life Magazine

December / January 2015

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/610464

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Page 9 of 43

T he L.A. River is a 51-mile cement conduit that winds from the Simi Hills and Santa Susana Mountains through Los Angeles to the ocean in Long Beach. The river's deso- late appearance has provided a dramatic backdrop for scenes in many Hollywood movies, but it's unlikely to be described as a work of art; the river was lined with cement for fl ood control, not beauty. If you tried to picture the exact opposite of the L.A. River, you might imagine something that winds and fl ows, with lots of refl ected light—something like the artwork of Frank Gehry, who designed the Disney concert hall, the Bilbao Gug- genheim and other magnifi cent buildings. The disparate visions of the cement-lined river and Gehry's curvilinear facades have come together in what may be a defi ning moment for the L.A. River's future. It was a surprise to many when the L.A. Times revealed in August that for almost a year, Gehry had quietly been working on a plan to restore the river. The architect was re- cruited by the L.A. River Revitalization Corporation, a nonprofi t group founded by the city to coordinate the river's restoration. In addition to identifying ways the river can be made available for public use with- out affecting its fl ood control functionality, Gehry is investigating how the city can reclaim some of the stormwater it carries. Millions of gallons of runoff fl ow through the L.A. River and into the ocean each year, and recapturing it would help the city battle its current drought. Many people, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, are excited about the possibilities Gehry brings to the river revitalization project, but local activists have raised concerns. The most prominent critic is Lewis MacAdams, founder of Friends of the Los Angeles River, who questions the project's initial secrecy and the necessity for a top-down plan that affects the whole river. No details have been released about Gehry's plans, but Gehry Partners has begun a data-driven analysis of the en- tire L.A. River. Although the project got off to a secretive start, the L.A. River Revitalization Corps is taking steps to involve the public in the process going forward, such as developing an on- line platform where people can get involved and share their thoughts. Visit larivercorp.com for more information. By Lisa Beebe Architect Frank Gehry Takes on the L.A. River city of angels CHANGING THE CHANNEL 10 wholelifetimes.com

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