A reimagined river promises to tie together a long disconnected city. How guerrilla planning and city initiatives are slowly turning the tide.
Speculative urbanism: That’s the phrase that Los Angeles architect Michael Maltzan, FAIA, uses to describe the decades-long effort that has recast and revived the L.A. River. A concrete-lined drainage ditch for much of its 51-mile length, the river has nonetheless been celebrated by its boosters as the organizing device that will reinvent this ultimate decentralized city for the 21st century. A radically updated Los Angeles, long connected (and torn asunder) by freeways, will instead be tied together by verdant riverside promenades, bike paths, and an extended string of waterfront parks. The concept has the transformative potential of New York’s High Line, except that the L.A. River, stretching from Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley to the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach, is 35 times longer.
Maltzan, for the moment, is the architect whose impact on the river is most conspicuous. His recently completed One Santa Fe on the fringe of downtown L.A. is a skinny apartment complex with two extremely long side-by-side buildings, elevated above levels of parking and open-air plazas, that extend for over a quarter mile on a site parallel to the river. Completed last year, the project houses 438 market-rate rental units directly across the street from SCI-Arc, in a neighborhood—the Arts District—that, despite its close proximity to Skid Row, is gentrifying at a breakneck pace. You can get a glimpse of the river from many of the complex’s east-facing apartments, but the view is mostly dominated by the railroad tracks—a half dozen at least—that run along the water.
Read the Full Story HERE >>>> via Letter from Los Angeles: Reviving the River – Architect Magazine.