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Video: Frank Gehry Describes His Vision For The L.A. River

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Frank Gehry reveals his vision for redesigning the L.A. River in a video released today.

In the video, the internationally renowned architect discusses how the 52-mile stretch of waterway can better benefit Los Angeles both ecologically and socially. Along with Tensho Takemori of his architecture firm, Gehry explains in broad strokes his plan for the river, a plan that was vaguely hinted at earlier this month. The two address ways that the largely concrete-encased waterway can be improved to better collect water and benefit the city, while also helping to unify the communities along the river. "It's a great opportunity for knitting the city together," Gehry says of the project.

Early designs, also released today, suggest that the plans could include parkland, real estate development and bicycle and pedestrian paths, according to the L.A. Times.

The video was created by the L.A. River Revitalization Corp.—the city-affiliated nonprofit group responsible for commissioning Gehry’s firm. And while the video is a bit gauzy and wistful—not to mention the trippy edit—it does offer one of our first vivid glimpses into the grand plans for the river, which so far have been somewhat mysterious.

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The release of the video also coincides with a press briefing that Gehry's team hosted this morning, in which they shared a very early phase of the project's design. So far, the team has only surveyed the river and developed most of a 3-dimensional landscape model, according to the L.A. Times. Though Gehry was not at the meeting—as he's recovering from back surgery—architect Anand Devarajan did explain that they aim to develop “a continuous experience along the river.” He also suggested that the river and surrounding area “could be reimagined as a linear Central Park.”

Since the announcement of his involvement, Gehry has insisted that his design would focus on water reclamation and not landscaping. However, preliminary maps revealed today seemed to indicate areas of parkland and other development, though the team says all of that is still in the abstract phase.

For this first phase of the river redesign, Gehry's team has been working for free for most of the year. Most of that time, the plans were kept secret, much to the dismay of some detractors who want more public input. For the next phase—which could last from 3 to 6 months and cost “a couple million” dollars—the L.A. River Revitalization Corp. is working to coordinate public and private funding. That step will focus on how to increase public access to the river while also protecting against flooding, which was why the river was encased in concrete during the 1930's.

“The opportunity to work on a complicated piece of infrastructure like the L.A. River is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Gehry said in a statement. “Los Angeles is my home and I’ve never seen a greater need than now to explore how our existing infrastructure may be used in more ways than intended.”