Northeast Los Angeles Placemaking Competition: Elysian Valley Gateway Park


Project submitted by: Allen Anderson

Project designed for Elysian Valley

Project Summary and Scale

This "site level" project proposes to enhance the existing "Los Angeles River Elysian Valley Gateway Park" located at the end of Knox Avenue in Elysian Valley with two critical improvements:

a. Remove the existing chain-link fence separating the park from the river and replace it with a new metal fence with decorative gates along the sidewalk (in order to comply with the MOU between the MRCA and the Army Corps of Engineers). The park currently is separated from the river path by the aforementioned fence and hedge. Removal of the fence creates "breathing room" along the tight path (allowing pedestrians room to move off the paved surface and out of the bike route). The current visual and physical separation also makes the park dark and dangerous at night as the separation limits visibility from the path into the park. Visitors entering the park from the river enter somewhat blindly, and the experience is not a welcoming one.

b. Add a series of durable benches to the park to replace the wood ones destroyed several years ago by local youth. The new benches will be created as a community art project and based on the design of the serpentine benches at Park Guell in Barcelona by Antonio Gaudi. The benches will be built of cob and covered with a porcelain/ceramic tile mosaic composed of broken pottery, dishware, tiles, etc contributed by the local residents. This park has historically served as an important asset to the local residents and is often host to birthday parties and other informal family gatherings. The proposed benches will add functionality and delight to the existing park.


a. Ornamental fence to be constructed of vertical pickets with a baked enamel finish. Gates to be designed by an artist with appropriate river theme (similar to others along the river)
b. Benches to be constructed of cob. Per Wikipedia - "Cob is a natural building material made from sand, clay, water, some kind of fibrous or organic material (straw) and earth. Cob is fireproof, resistant to seismic activity,[1] and inexpensive. It can be used to create artistic, sculptural forms and has been revived in recent years by the natural building and sustainability movements." When combined with the tile mosaic finish, it will be impervious to the elements, to vandalism, and will provide a maintenance-free amenity for years to come.

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Why are you committed to this project?

I am a resident and business owner in this community, and I use this park on a daily basis. I see my neighbors using the park for various activities, and I consider this park one of the major assets of this area.

What are the most relevant characteristics of project site and scale?

The project site sits right along the river path, and is an important entry point to the Los Angeles River from the neighborhood, as well as an entry to the neighborhood from the river path. It also provides a large, open recreation space for the adjacent residents in a community of very small residential lots.

Describe how this project will reinforce a sense of place or enhance the built environment.

I have spoken with the MRCA on many occasions about my concerns related to the separation of the park from the public path and my concerns about the effect of this separation on public safety. The MRCA apparently does not have the budget for the new fence. The proposed project will increase the usefulness of the park by adding comfortable (and beautiful) seating, it will encourage use of the park by welcoming visitors and encouraging them to stay, and it will increase the safety of this important amenity by opening the park up to the adjacent river path.


Provide a description of the project's necessary planning activities.

a. Secure approval of project by MRCA
b. Identify the appropriate artist to guide the community art project
c. Conduct outreach to solicit community involvement and tile materials
d. Conduct workshops to construct the benches
e. Obtain permit for fence construction along Knox Ave.

What is a rough estimate of your project budget?

$20,000 for the new fence
$20,000 for the new gates
$5000 artist fee for the benches and workshops
$1000 for base materials for cob benches
Total: $46,000.

How does this project leverage existing resources and efforts?

The project works to enhance an existing amenity, and to better connect it to the on-going improvements along the Los Angeles River.

What community need is your project serving?

This project will improve public safety along the river and in the existing park. It will increase functionality and use of the park.

If your project is realized, what does success look like?

A reduction in illicit activities in the park, increased use of the park for family events, more people using the park for leisure activities, and an increased local "investment" in the park, and a concurrent reduction in vandalism.

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