USC professor discusses plans for LA river project

first_imgRenowned landscape architect and assistant professor Alex Robinson spoke at the Roski School of Fine Arts Monday night on improving the infrastructures at the Los Angeles River and Owens Lake. Robinson, director of the USC Landscape Morphologies Lab, combines engineering and design to solve key issues.According to Robinson, both the L.A. River and Owens Lake have outdated designs that have caused ecological issues. Given the issue’s close proximity to home, Robinson was challenged to create a plan to renovate the L.A. River through hydraulic modeling.Robinson said the goal is to create a bridge between restoration and ecological restoration. The river was not visted by L.A. residents regularly. Robinson mentioned that the river is currently known for car racing and photoshoots.The plan for the L.A. River is to build effective infrastructure by using aesthetics and water to create a more inviting landscape.Robinson and his team used hydraulic modeling to show possibilities for the design and the flow of the river, which include a grass sports fields, river trail walks and kayaking.Brendan Shea, an adjunct professor at the School of Architecture, said Robinson’s project seems sound.“It is an interesting plan that seems well-researched,” Shea said. “I am most interested in how the technology starts to incorporate a larger discussion on the cultural value of the designs.”Zeek Magallanes, a third-year student in the Landscape Architecture Master of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism program, said that the restoration project shows the impact landscape architecture can have on unkept areas of the city.“[The restoration project] shows the creativity and the breadth of focus that landscape architecture can take in addressing social, ecological, economic issues and problems,” Magallanes said.The attraction that Magallanes would like to see at the renovated river would be a “splash zone” in order to create a family atmosphere.Robinson has said he wants to have citizens play a role in the design of these restoration projects.“My idea for the lake is marginal in regards to what the people want,” Robinson said. “You have to design in such a way that you don’t break the bank, but also make something beautiful.”Robinson was also challenged to take on another project in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.Owens Lake is the flat site of a large-scale dust pollution issue due to salt crust that was left after the lake dried up. Similar to the L.A. River, Owens Lake is currently not a family attraction, but rather a wasteland with little vegetation.Robinson’s goal is to use engineering technology to create infrastructure to mitigate the dust pollution issue. His plans for restoration and building high performance landscaping infrastructure are made possible through new programs and technology.Robinson uses a program that creates a model of the terrain, and with the copy, he is able to insert it into a machine that resembles an arcade game — a process he calls “play.”“Play” entails customizing the terrain with green landscape and attractions and then printing a postcard of the creation.This technology makes it easier to visualize the possible outcomes of the area.The public is then able to see these postcards and vote on their favorite landscape.Jin Chen, a second-year master’s student in the landscape and architecture program and a student of Robinson, said she admires how Robinson plans his projects.“It is very cool that he’s combining technologies these days and challenging the borders of what landscape architects can do,” Chen said.Robinson is soon leaving USC in order to work on landscaping in Rome, Italy. However, he will still be working on his L.A. River and Owens Lake projects.Robinson said his goal in all of his projects is to make urban spaces more inviting.last_img read more