Mayor Garcia to Request Major Update to Long Beach Plan for LA River, Including Frank Gehry's Involvement

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File photo of the Los Angeles River.

Mayor Garcia announced Monday that he has requested a formal update to the Long Beach “River Link” plan, which was created to outline the city’s efforts to restore and revitalize the Los Angeles River in Long Beach, as well as its entire length in a collaborative effort with the LA River Revitalization Corporation.

gehryGarcia’s proposal will appear on the City Council’s agenda August 18 and requests that “the City Manager update the Los Angeles River Link Plan for the City of Long Beach and present a new updated plan to the City Council,” and “work with the LA River Revitalization Corporation and other regional partners to coordinate efforts to improve and enhance the entirety of the Los Angeles River and surrounding areas.”

The current iteration of River Link, created in 2007, has not been updated to include more recent developments, such as the efforts of the LA River Revitalization Corporation, which has partnered with Frank Gehry and his associates to explore a comprehensive vision for the entire 51 miles of the river.

Gehry's work often stimulates the imagination, as his designs, once built, seem to culminate in structures that look sketched against the sky, freely and confidently and with such ease that a museum or concert hall visitor might think they could possess the power of the genius pen-holder himself. His finished forms seem organically grown and have the clear potential to be more-than-fitting for a project involving such environmental concerns. He also appears to be a unique match for the redevelopment of the lengthy stretch of land in question, a project that involves so many different cities and landscapes up and down the LA River.

However, according to this most recent Los Angeles Times article, Gehry and team may not, in fact, simply decorate the river with the stand-alone monuments well attached to the name, such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall or the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, but will focus solely on the water-reclamation and hydrology potential for the project.

According to this less recent August 7 Los Angeles Times article, the secrecy of his work with Los Angeles city officials is bothersome to the activists who drew attention to the cause in the first place, who claim that such a “top-down” planning method could disrupt funding or result in the construction of unwanted infrastructure. However, Los Angeles city officials say there will be “an extensive outreach process to solicit Los Angeles County residents’ thoughts as Gehry’s work moves forward.”

According to the release, Garcia met with Gehry earlier this year to discuss plans for the river and is fully on board with the collaboration between the renowned architect and the LA River Revitalization Corporation.

“The Los Angeles River is one of our City’s most important economic and environmental assets, and it’s important that we continue to work closely with our northern neighbors to revitalize and enhance it for the benefit of Long Beach and of the entire region,” said Garcia in a statement. “We’re honored and excited to have Frank Gehry, a true genius, bringing his creativity and expertise into this vital project, and the River Link plan should reflect this profoundly positive development, as well as all the other great work that’s been done over the last [eight] years.”

For more than 50 years, the primary purpose of the LA river has been flood control. Garcia is acknowledging the “emerging consensus around efforts to reassess the current state of the LA River and to identify enhancements that would benefit our region environmentally and economically through water reclamation, beautification and increasing recreation opportunities.”

Recent stories in the Los Angeles Times, including the aforementioned articles, revealed prematurely the planned pro bono participation of Gehry and his team in these efforts.

Garcia wants the city to “undertake a formal, comprehensive update to the plan, reflecting all the work done over the past 8 years, and expanded to include the efforts of the LA River Revitalization Corporation and other regional partners to improve and enhance the entirety of the Los Angeles River and its surrounding areas.”

File photo of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, designed by Gehry.

 



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