Northeast Los Angeles Placemaking Competition: Riverwalk Spillway Art Project


Project submitted by Robert Rossoff

Project designed for Atwater Village


Project Summary and Scale

Two years ago I won a commission to design and build a large-scale sculpture for a new public park being built along the LA River. The art piece is called, The Glendale Narrows Riverwalk Spillway Art Project. The park project was managed by North East Trees, and the funding for the art project was funded by California DOT's EEMP grant program. The sculpture and the space it created were a huge success. I used 15 existing bulkheads that were originally built in the 1930's as the center piece of the public sculpture. On the bulkheads, I created a stop motion effect of an egret in flight. Due to limited resources, the other side of the bulkheads were never completed. It has been my intention to cover them with images of a horse in motion. The rest of my art project including the grounds around the bulkheads, was completed under the commission. The reverse side of the bulkheads are the only part of the project I wish to design and complete.


Why are you committed to this project?

I feel compelled to finish this piece of art for the benefit of the community, and the vitality of the art work that serves the community.


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

The project site began as a scarred, barren strip of land, 160 feet long by 30 feet wide. It was built after the 1930 flood to abate the river using 15 bulkheads that are stationed on the spillway. This area has since been used as a helicopter landing pad, but mostly left to blight. The biggest eye sore had been the 15 bulkheads that one sees from the street passing by the park.


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

It is my intention that the work reflect the natural beauty of the revitalized Los Angeles River. I combined my love of nature with a keen interest in the ability of moving images to create a heightened sense of awareness. One can move around the sculpture and be taken on a flight above the river by one of its most visible inhabitants, the egret. This area also supports a very prominent equestrian community. Hopefully one day the viewer can also be taken on a horse ride by viewing the sculpture from the other direction.




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

In order to etch a series of linear drawings into very old sections of concrete, there is a need to make large-scale engraving permanent. To achieve this goal I invented a new technique that replaces and ultimately does a better job than sand blasting images into a surface. With the aid of a 3D program and a high tech etching device, I incise my artwork onto aluminum panels and build channels up from these incisions. After affixed to the walls and plaster applied, the images are revealed in the negative spaces. It is ultimately graffiti resistant.


What is a rough estimate of your project budget?



How does this project leverage existing resources and efforts?

The opposite sides of the bulkheads are currently ready to accept aluminum plates and plaster for the sculpture. All that is needed is my art work, the plates, and the plastering. The grounds around the sculpture have already been designed, constructed, and put in place or planted.


What community need is your project serving?

I am particularly interested in how a landmark or an iconic image can be seen as a map to the psyche. It is a link between the past the present and the future. In the case of the LA River, the egret and the horse have become symbols of the river's revitalization. That is what guided me to produce these images on the bulkheads. I want all members of the community to connect with the art, as it is a reflection of their time and their place living alongside the LA River.


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

My public art sculpture tells a story about our beloved LA River, the culture that has grown beside it over the centuries, and the flora and fauna that inhabit it today I have invested a lot of passion and thought into this art piece, so seeing both sides of the bulkheads covered in animated images: of birds on one side, and horses on the other would be a huge success. The project would at last be finished.

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