Friday, August 30, 2013

Students Dream Big Plans for LA River

World-famous SWA Group is a renowned leader in the field of landscape architecture and urban planning.  So when they decided to hold this year's summer student program in Los Angeles for the first time, and turn the students loose on coming up with ideas to improve the waterway and banks of the Los Angeles River, something extraordinary was on the way. The seven students accepted into the prestigious program came from around the world, and applied their imaginations and knowledge to some ideas that were both fanciful and practical.  And in the end their proposals may be more than just abstract ideas, since their river solutions were passed on to a council made up of representatives of the city of LA, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, and the Los Angeles River Revitalization program, where they may be incorporated into existing plans or form the seed of new river revitalization projects.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:

Link to article:

Excerpt: "When it comes to complex problems, fresh eyes sometimes bring valuable new perspectives. This year, the Los Angeles chapter of landscape and urban design firm SWA Group hosted seven students from around the country and asked them to reconsider the landscape around the Los Angeles River.

"It was very much a challenge for the students given that we only had four weeks," explained Ying-Yu Hung, principal at SWA, "but the Los Angeles River was very much in our backyard and we couldn't resist the opportunity to study it."

Each summer, SWA Landscape holds its annual summer student program in one of the firm's seven locations around the world. This year is SWA Los Angeles's first turn at hosting the summer program. For four weeks, participants were immersed in river issues and asked to come up with landscape proposals centered on a particular neighborhood of Los Angeles along the river. Students kayaked along the river, spoke with professionals working on the river, and toured the upper watershed as preparation.

What came out of the month-long immersion were a wide variety of solutions, some closer to ambitious projects Angelenos could easily imagine playing out in the city, others pushing the envelope of what's possible in the city. 
In the former camp is Ian Mackay, an Ohio State University student double majoring in landscape architecture and city planning. He focused on the Elysian Valley and Cypress Park. (His research also included combing through KCET's StoryShare sessions on the riverfront.) 'What if we could build a bridge that could do more than just encourage people to cross between neighborhoods?' asked Mackay. 'Can a bridge be a site of a lovefest between people, birds and the river?'

He imagined building what he called a 'habitat bridge' that would be able to house birds. Green landscape wedges positioned on the east bank would have perforated spaces that could host bird nests. Behind the wedge's scrim, pedestrians and cyclists would able to view the wildlife beyond while going about their recreational activities."

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