While it has just secured one of the future Olympic games, Los Angeles has launched a huge plan to revitalise its riverside. Seven segments have just been assigned to seven firms. The objective? To awaken a water course and old brownfields buried under the concrete.
In the 1930s, following floods that left 115 dead and caused 40 million dollars’ damage, the Los Angeles river bed was concreted over on nearly all its 83 km course. At the time, the initiative was warmly received, but today it is perceived as heresy. Pro-sustainable development, Californians have decided to implement an incredibly ambitious plan to revive the river, over fifteen kilometres of its course.
This revival plan has two broad facets. The first is environmental: the river is on the migration route of a great number of bird species and should make a home for herons, wild geese and ducks. The plan also envisages replanting native Californian plant species, like the wild rose and the purple laurel. The second facet is purely economic and social: once resuscitated, the river should give life back to old brownfields. And above all, encourage developers to build new shops and residential buildings.
“We want to make the river a place for nature and activity, thereby creating more open space in our tightly packed city, Eric Garcetti, the Democrat mayor of the City of Angels explains. These efforts will restore not just the natural beauty, but the new life of the river will also provide new life to the neighbourhoods and companies around it.”
Kayaking and decking at the water’s edge
To implement this programme, the authorities have called on seven urban planning firms. Each has been assigned to reshape a segment. Common themes among the projects are a certain reconnection with nature, a return to vegetation and soft mobility. On land and on the river.
The engineering office Tetra Tech has thus conceived a glazed walkway with a restaurant and a new cycle path. To encourage walking, Chee Salette Architects have proposed a shortcut formed by long platforms running beside the river. For the areas between Spring St. and Cesar Chavez Ave, the firm WSP has thought of a walkway incorporating seats on decks. The project of Mia Lehrer + Associates designs a launch platform for kayaks. The last two projects, from CH2M and Gruen Associates, install cycle paths and suspended paths beside the existing railway tracks. Proposals that could inspire Brussels, busy regaining its canal.