Rio Vista Project: Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront

The NELA River Collaborative project builds upon the growing momentum of efforts already underway to transform the Los Angeles River into a "riverfront district" and to create a focal point of community revitalization. For more information visit

KCET Departures is the media partner of the Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative.

Since the beginning of February, as part of the Northeast Los Angeles River Collaborative, students from the L.A. River School have been engaged in a learning activity focused on street-end (cul de sac) design and ways in which they can convert entry points of the L.A. River into community assets -- spaces we call Rio Vistas.

Students are exposed to different types of disciplines via guest lecturers who are experts in different fields. Each expert touches on topics like landscape architecture, art, civil engineering, community planning, and community organizing.

Students learn from community activist, Cecilia Dominguez about the importance of reaching out to the community.
Students share their draft concept design with MRCA Urban Planner, Barbara Romero.
Guest lecturers offer students ideas and tips for their designs.

So far, the students have visited 27 street ends in the Elysian Valley neighborhood, the scope of their project area, to determine which streets would be the best candidates to conduct additional in-depth analysis. Three street ends have been identified for the student project. The 16 students currently enrolled in the course have been split up into three groups, each assigned one street end.

The methods we are using for this training are: community-driven, youth lead, technically supported, and expert reviewed. We are taking a human-centered design approach to ensure that we incorporate what community members desire while balancing the feasibility of the project in order to takes steps towards actual construction.

City of LA- LA River Office Civil Engineer, Michael Affeldt provides insight on the student's work.
Two students collect data on a possible site for their Rio Vista project.
LA River School students visit and collect information on a possible location for their project.

During the next eight weeks, students will be reaching out to their community to engage them in design exercises to solicit input that will assist them as they design their street ends. Most of the students live in the neighborhood, some of them on the same street as their project site, making this project very personal to them.

The students will lead three community design workshops with residents. At the end of May, the three student teams will present their concepts at a final design competition -- the winning team will be awarded a $500.00 prize.

A student surveys a street end in Elysian Valley.
Students share their designs with their peers.
Students work together to develop the designs for their group's Rio Vista Project.

Please continue to visit the NELA River Collaborative to get updates on the Rio Vista Project.


Walking It Out Along the NELA River


Elysian Valley Community Comes Out for L.A. River Bike and Walk Event