Architecture student’s project wins national award
Yingjun Hu MLA ’12 has received a 2013 Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for a project that proposes turning the present concrete-laden confluence of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco into a recreation destination.
The winning project was published in this month’s Landscape Architecture Magazine. Hu will be honored at an awards presentation during the national society’s annual meeting in mid-November.
Nearly 400 entries from 91 schools were submitted for this year’s awards, and 26 projects were lauded in seven categories. Hu was one of six students who received an award in the analysis and planning category.
Currently at the point where the Arroyo Seco and Los Angeles River meet, both are covered in concrete and cut off from the surrounding neighborhood and Elysian Park by freeways, railroads and warehouses. Hu’s plan removes much of the concrete, adds vegetation and creates a habitat for birds. The Arroyo Seco’s channel would be widened and deepened to carry more water during a flood, and terraces would be planted with native vegetation. New connections would be made with neighborhoods through a system of green streets developed to capture and clean storm water before it enters the river.
The ASLA jurors complimented “the way the plan engaged the existing neighborhood fabric and created a linked system of parks and greenways.” Wrote one juror: “The mapping reminded me of [Frederick Law] Olmsted’s plan for Los Angeles.”
Robert Harris, director of the landscape architecture discipline at the USC School of Architecture and one of the advisers on Hu’s project, said it is a good example of the Master of Landscape Architecture program’s focus on “urban nature.” Harris said the study “proposes realistic reconnections at one of the Los Angeles region’s most difficult river-city divisions.”
In cities worldwide, extensive rail and freeway infrastructure typically follows the topography of rivers, Harris noted, and such infrastructure usually severs the natural connectivity of rivers and their valleys.
Harris said that the project includes the potential for recovery of economic opportunity in river-adjacent districts.
Another adviser on the project was Charles Dwyer, chief of the navigation and coastal projects branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Arroyo Seco Foundation organized a presentation of the graduate student’s designs, with response from an expert panel and reports in various agency and nonprofit newsletters.
Other USC advisers included lecturer Ying-Yu Hung and adjunct professor Bob Perry from the School of Architecture, as well as Travis Longcore, associate professor of geography at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Hu was previously recognized with the 2012-13 Outstanding Design Research Award in Landscape Architecture from the School of Architecture for this work. He is currently practicing landscape architecture in Los Angeles.