USC architect works to restore Los Angeles river

first_imgA landscape architect and lecturer at the School of Architecture, Esther Margulies, is working on a plan to restore the Los Angeles River and build an artistic and cultural hub for the city.The L.A. River Public Art Project proposal is a plan to make the L.A. River a vehicle for improving the education and well-being of adjacent communities while bringing a linear arts and culture resource to the city.Margulies is working in collaboration with her former student Jean Yang, an alumna of the School of Architecture, as well as with two architects and a graphic designer. The Los Angeles Nomadic Division, a nonprofit dedicated to public art exhibitions, is also working with the team.Their project aims to develop the 11-mile portion of the river that connects Griffith Park with downtown Los Angeles.“People have been talking about the river for years and years and years, and I think there’s a reason why they are, because it’s a huge wasted opportunity,” Yang said.She said that Los Angeles could emulate other urban landscapes across the country.“When you think about great urban expanses, you think of running along the Charles River in Boston, and the Hudson River in New York, and biking along it and experiencing it,” Yang said. “I think [this plan] adds a new layer to what the L.A. urban experience could be that really wonderful cities like Chicago and [New York City] have already tapped into, something that we’re missing.”The L.A. River Public Art Project proposal is currently competing for a $100,000 grant from LA2050, a development initiative dedicated to improving the Los Angeles area. According to LA2050, Los Angeles has the highest concentration of working artists and arts professionals in the United States.The team is garnering support for the L.A. River Public Art Project from alumni and professional organizations, as well as continuing their social media campaigns. As of press time, the proposal is currently in 25th place for its category. Margulies hopes they will win when the competition for the grant ends on Sept. 16.“L.A. will eventually be passed by in terms of long-term recognition and vitality if it doesn’t consolidate its artistic production quality with lasting infrastructure,” Michael Govan, CEO and Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, told LA2050.Thie L.A. River Public Art Project proposal, launched in late May of this year, aims to provide a framework of opportunities for residents along the river and for arts institutes nearby.According to the project team’s research, a high school diploma is the highest form of education received by about 52 percent of citizens along the L.A. River. Margulies sees this proposal as an opportunity to improve student achievement in science and technology with their new access to nature and the arts.In 2006, Los Angeles and the federal government initiated a master plan for a 32-mile stretch of the L.A. River, but later narrowed their focus to the 11-mile section that connects Griffith Park and Downtown LA. Though this portion of the river has been studied by the U.S. Army Corps, the Army’s plans are geared towards flood control, habitat restoration and passive recreation.Margulies hopes to focus on other benefits the river has to offer, such as artistic development.“The funding that will fund the Army Corps projects cannot address issues of culture and art, that’s why we wanted to start this project,” she said. “It would be nice, as the river gets done, to build a curated arts and culture plan to go with it.”Besides creating opportunities for work force development, Margulies said that the L.A. River Project would emphasize the importance of the arts in educational neighborhood programs.“[The plan] provides a framework and will define opportunities for local organization, arts institutions and residents to develop programming, education programs and potentially visual art,” she said. “But everyone will have a common vision.”last_img