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Rio Vista Project: Students Design Cul de Sacs that Welcome Neighbors to the L.A. River

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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 www.mylariver.orgKCET Departures is the media partner of the Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative.

As part of the Northeast Los Angeles River Collaborative's exploration of a River front district, students from the L.A. River School are engaged in a learning activity focused on street-end design and ways they can work with the community to convert these entry points to the L.A. River into community assets, spaces called Rio Vistas. The students are separated into three groups, each designing a cul de sac. One group's design will be selected by a panel of experts to move to implementation. The winning group will receive $500.

It was our second day out, and this time, we visited the RAC Design Build studio before going out to the river. One of the first things I noticed there was a fixture on the ceiling that gave out light through the outline of an apple. This design studio turned an old Mac system into a ceiling light! How cool is that?

Makeshift light fixture at RAC Design Build

With a little creativity, they turned something old into something useful, and in my opinion, this is what the Rio Vista Project is all about. We are taking these old and uncared for street ends and turning them into places where community members can not only enter the river through, but also sit down and relax, maybe even have a cup of coffee with a friend and enjoy the beautiful scenery the river has to offer. With a little creativity and guidance from Miguel Luna and his partners at the Northeast L.A. River Collaborative, we are designing these street ends to become beautiful river entrances that everyone can use and enjoy.

Rio Vista group developing the design for their cul de sac
Initial design for cul de sac

The Rio Vista Project has explored 27 cul de sacs along the L.A. River in Elysian Valley as possible sites that students can design a new entry point to the River.