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Environmental Quality / 2013

RiverLAnding : An expedition to prototype a “landing” on the banks of the Los Angeles River

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by RiverLAnding Collective

This summer we propose to install River Landing, a temporary park that inhabits the concrete channel of the Los Angeles River, making its banks and dry-season waters accessible and universally enjoyable. This park and accessway in Elysian Valley will serve as a precedent for future parks on the 51 miles of river banks, a continuous blank space that is almost as large as New York’s Central Park. The project seeks to address immediate open space shortages and create a platform where the citizens of Los Angeles can develop a relationship with their river and deepen their involvement in the eventual large-scale modification of the river channel. A standard film permit will enable us to install River Landing for a weekend, and we will make a movie about the event to spur community and political support for future, public installations during all the summers until the river banks are permanently improved. River Landing will use a temporary scaffolding system and innovative designs to turn the bank into an accessible and multi-purpose space without threatening the integrity of the channel. Because this intervention is only currently possible as a film shoot, we will cast the local community, river stakeholders, and other interested citizens to be in our film about inhabiting the river in this new and visionary way. Inspired by Parking Day LA, which transforms parking spaces into semi-permanent Parklets, we believe that this project will lay the groundwork for the city and river adjacent neighborhoods to advocate and execute summer-long river-bank parklets all along the Los Angeles River. By building and filming our River Landing we will demonstrate the value and feasibility of these installations. Furthermore, the project introduces a format by which Angelenos will become instrumental in reinventing their river, while also beginning to enjoy it now.* We believe that the L.A. River has the potential to rival the beach and mountains as the premier accessible open-space in L.A. but it needs our voices, vision, and support to help it realize its full potential! What better way than to actually inhabit the river with community-generated designs! *This summer, due to a city pilot program, a portion of the River Channel will actually be legally accessible! However, under the current public trust doctrine agreement you can only enter the channel through limited access points and there will be no amenities.

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

Members of the River Landing Design Collective bring a wide range of experience and accomplishments:

Worked on the Los Angeles Revitalization Master Plan Developed and implemented extensive community outreach programs Designed and permitted the Spring Street Parklets Built and employed hydraulic models to help design the Los Angeles River Developed vacant lots into community gardens, farms and yards Directed and filmed groundbreaking theater and movies.

Alexander Robinson is a landscape architect and assistant adjunct professor of landscape architecture at the University of Southern California. He worked on the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan and is currently working with regional engineering agencies to develop new L.A. River designs with his students at USC.

Abigail Feldman is a landscape architect and the founder of, Heavy Meadow, based in New Orleans, Louisiana. She launched and directed the Growing Home program for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. She helped transform over a 1000 vacant lots into community gardens, farms, and yards with families from The Lower 9th Ward to Lakeview.

Margot Jacobs currently works as a project manager and designer at Mia Lehrer + Associates. Drawing on her background in art and design, Margot focuses on combining innovative ideas and sustainable practices while seeking out solutions that greatly enhance living environments, evoking connections between built, social and natural realms.

Jodie Bass’s work centers on the confluence of design and social engagement by conscientious construction through both critical and hands-on methods. She is an Exhibition Designer at Los Angeles County Museum of Arts her recent work includes Drawing Surrealism, Lost Line, and Shinique Smith.

Kelly Majewski’s design work has covered a wide range of scales and types; from street furnishings to large scale urban and landscape master planning projects. Kelly has worked for multiple award winning Landscape Architecture firms. She is a strong advocate for community involvement in the design process and has led multiple public outreach meetings and workshops.

Daveed Kapoor is an architect who contributes a diverse range of experience, united by his consistent passion for space that improves the quality of people’s lives. Daveed founded, a land development and architecture collective focused on redressing social justice issues. With the DLANC Complete Streets Working Group he helped design and was permit architect of the Spring Street Parklets.

Lars Jan is writer, film-maker and the artistic director of Early Morning Opera, a genre-bending performance + art lab. He has made artworks about TED talks, Laika the Soviet space dog, land art, and suicide bombing. Lars’ work has been supported by many significant artistic institutions. He is also a 2013 TED Senior Fellow and is currently developing a public spectacle about flooding and the future of empathy.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

University of Southern California: Landscape Architecture Department

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Elysian Valley Arts Collective


Mia Lehrer + Associates

RAC Design Build

oOR Scapes & Landscape Morphologies Lab &

Heavy Meadow

Furthermore, we have discussed this idea with members of the community, multiple open space and river managing entities, and other stakeholders and received universally positive feedback. We expect our team to keep growing!

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

The primary measure of success will be whether we can generate enough support and interest to enable a publicly accessible River Landing next summer and for years to come. We would also gauge the success of the project by the amount of interest and dialogue that it spurs in terms of thinking about how communities effectively engage with the redesign of the river channel now and in the future.

Furthermore, we would measure the success of the actual design interventions with user-occupancy surveys conducted by the same folks who are organizing them for the Spring Streek Parklets They will conduct surveys during the actual installation and do studies of users along the existing channel prior to our installation.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

By creating a prototype for temporary summer parks on the banks of the L.A. River, River Landing will become a precedent for the entire 51 miles of the river, thus potentially alleviating immediate open-space shortages throughout the city and county. Furthermore, by creating a format by which Angelenos can reinvent how they inhabit the river, future River Landings will both galvanize public support for permanent modifications and allow us to collectively build a new vision of the river through actual use. The river will be the landmark open space improvement in Los Angeles for this century – this project both helps this happen and ensures we know exactly the kind of space we all want and need.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

The Los Angeles River will be transformed into the most valued open-space of our city – rivaling our mountains and beaches and reflective of Los Angeles and the unique and creative spirit of its citizens.