(re)Sourcing the Los Angeles River: Integrated (Water) Resource Studio
USC Landscape Architecture Program, Fall 2014


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Los Angeles River as an Integrated Water Resource?
For this studio USC graduate landscape architecture students studied the Los Angeles Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and the potential impacts that a range of progressive water measures will have on the Los Angeles River. Increasingly the water that feeds the river (and fuels the revitalization) is being targeted by water managers for re-use or treatment and the river is increasingly being seen as a water user or “feature” that must be allocated water that could otherwise be supplying users. This studio examined how the future River, planned as an ecological open space, can be best integrated or adapted to these future measures.

Studio ReSource Integrations

ReSource Integration 1
Distributed Downstream Water Recycling via the LA River
Integrate LA River in Water Recycling to Maintain Maximum Habitat and Recreation by Allowing Tillman Outflow to Run Through the River before Diverting to Water Recycling Facilities (Qiong Peng)

ReSource Integration 2
River Kayaking Futures with Smart River Flow Management
Smart River Water Flow Management for Improved Recreation and Habitat Management (Yu Hui)

ReSource Integration 3
LA River Stormwater Outfall Treatment Integrated with Open Space
Dry Weather Treatment and Reclaimed Water Polishing Integrated with Habitat and River Recreation and Access Improvements (Jingwen Zhu)

ReSource Integration 4
River Confluences Water Quality Interventions
Engage Leftover Confluence Spaces as Water Quality Systems and Symbolic Open Space (Bingqing Gu)

ReSource Integration 5
LA River-Integrated Reclaimed Water Wetland Treatment Park
Dry Weather Water and Reclaimed Water Treatment with Enhanced Habitat, Smart Water Recreation, and Improved LA River Access and Program (Shiqi Huang)

ReSource Integration 4
Enhanced Sub-Watershed Hydraulic Urbanism
Retrofitted Sub-Watershed and Open Space with Multi-Functional Water Quality Systems (Wei Du)

Studio Structure

Background Research
Los Angeles River and IRP Water Resource Management
Students were divided into two groups based on two broad water resource categories: wastewater and dry and wet weather flows. Each group attempted to visualize geographic and quantity information for the “before” and “after” of the IRP measures and the potential impacts and opportunities that changes in water resource management might have on recreation and habitat.

System Designs
System Proposal and Detailed Design Component
Building on the research for the mid-review mappings, for the final-review the students made proposals for how they might make changes to the IRP proposals and related systems to better integrate or adapt the River.

Speculative Quality of Projects
While the studio invested heavily in learning about from the IRP and researching measures currently considered feasible, the students had a greater abundance of design vision than access to technical knowledge or analysis. Inevitably many of these proposals are largely untested in terms of feasibility and may have fundamental technical, policy, economic or political challenges, but by the same token hopefully offer some fresh and visionary approaches worth pursuing and exploring further.

Restoration or Revitalization or Retrofit?
The projects presented here generally take on a shorter term perspective in terms of their scope of intervention and aspiration for the modification of the Los Angeles River. Instead of having a larger (and worthy!) vision for a radical transformation of the current condition, they generally hue closer to existing trajectories and precedents and make proposals that while often radically ambitious could be executed within the common framework of centralized, larger-scale projects and interventions.