Frank Gehry and the Los Angeles River: It’s a combination that makes zero sense (if you’re looking strictly at Gehry’s resume) and follows a natural logic (if you think about the interest the architect’s work has long shown in L.A.’s linear infrastructure and its overlooked, harder-to-love corners).
And it might give Mayor Eric Garcetti a way to confront the growing conventional wisdom that he is sometimes paralyzed by caution, gun-shy about big-ticket or controversial efforts to remake the city.
The 86-year-old Gehry has been working for about a year on a wide-ranging new plan for the river. His client is the L.A. River Revitalization Corp., a nonprofit group founded by the city in 2009 to coordinate river policy.
Though Gehry’s firm has taken on a few master plans, including an ill-fated attempt to redesign Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn for the developer Bruce Ratner, the office is best known for virtuoso stand-alone buildings including Walt Disney Concert Hall and the new Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris.
Yet Gehry insists that he isn’t interested in the river as the site for new landmarks. He says he told the Revitalization Corp. board members who first visited his office last year that he would take on the job only if he could look at the river primarily in terms of hydrology.