The Upper Los Angeles River and Tributaries Revitalization Plan (ULART), creating a comprehensive framework with 300-plus project site opportunities for the Upper Los Angeles River and its tributaries, earned a 2021 AZ Award from Azure Magazine.
The winning plan—commissioned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (an agency of the State of California) alongside a working group and joint-powers authority, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA)—was recognized for treating the tributaries as “valuable social, ecological, and hydrological players in the fight for equity.”
ULART won in Azure’s “Urban Design Visions” category, which had entries from Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, and elsewhere.
Studio-MLA led the ULART plan design as part of the multidisciplinary team primed by engineering consultant Tetra Tech. A 23-member working group chaired by Los Angeles Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez including seven nongovernmental organization (NGO) partners ensured a close partnership with the involved communities.
“The plan identifies over 300 opportunity sites for open-space amenities accessible to over 625,000 residents who live within a half mile of the river tributaries,” said ULART chair, Councilwoman Rodriguez.
“This integrated response to climate change via new green infrastructure, as well as the social infrastructure for renewed equity in cities, is urgently needed,” said AZ Award juror Marc Ryan of Toronto (Ontario, Canada)-based design firm Public Work.
Winning projects cited by Azure Magazine “exemplify excellence in innovation, aesthetics, creativity, and social and environmental responsibility.”
“Among the investments in the ULART plan is the ability to measure and track benefits for resiliency planning in the communities studied, which is critical,” said Mía Lehrer, FASLA, Studio-MLA president. “We have created a geodatabase and an evaluation strategy that makes project benefits both quantifiable and trackable, to achieve the region’s resiliency objectives.”
“Solving these challenges requires an organizing framework and collaboration between designers, geographic scientist, information technologists, community advocates, business owners, and the people of these places,” Lehrer said.