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Design Components

The LA River Master Plan design approach is based on a series of interventions that can be deployed within and adjacent to the river corridor.

Kit of Parts

The LA River Master Plan utilizes a kit of parts that includes possible design typologies for sites along the LA River. Each typology is associated with certain Master Plan goals. Kit of parts components are meant to be used in various combinations and can support a variety of biodiverse plant and wildlife habitats along the river.

The Master Plan also includes a list of common elements, such as restrooms, environmental graphics, and lighting, that can work in tandem with the kit of parts to ensure an equitable distribution of amenities among project sites and along the entire LA River Trail.

Infrastructure and Urban River Typologies

Within the LA River Master Plan, the kit of parts is a recommended collection of multiuse design components organized within six major infrastructure and urban river typologies.

These include: trails and access gateways, channel modifications, crossings and platforms, diversions, floodplain reclamation, and off-channel land assets. The components from the kit of parts are intended to be used in various combinations. Some sites may use several components that support each other.

A kit of parts matrix connects design components to the Master Plan goals and their associated spatial needs, identifying the design components that are most appropriate for a given site’s needs. For example, for a 15-acre site with a very high need for flood risk reduction (i.e. the site itself is subject to flooding), water quality, and ecosystems, a natural treatment wetland system may be the most appropriate component at this location to address this specific combination of needs and opportunity.

Each typology in the kit of parts can support different habitat conditions, thereby supporting different species. These biodiversity profiles are essential to understand in the application of the kit of parts.

Biodiversity Profiles

Opportunities for biodiversity and the creation of functioning ecosystems should be considered across all of the design components in the kit of parts.

A biodiversity profile is a useful tool for project implementers to assess whether a proposed project supports a diverse ecological community because it illustrates the plant communities, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects that can be sustained through the range of built conditions along the LA River. These profiles can be used to describe both existing and proposed future conditions, from algae mats in the concrete channel to a riparian soft-bottom basin, and are examples of how biodiversity must be present throughout all proposed projects.  Each project should create its own biodiversity profile of existing and goal key indicator wildlife species. This should be created in partnership with qualified professionals such as botanists or ecologists. These profiles are not a substitute for good ecological design led by ecologists, landscape architects, and engineers.

Click on the existing or proposed profile sections below to see examples of potential biodiversity profiles. They include section profile conditions of current existing conditions and proposed potential projects as outlined in the kit of parts. The wildlife species listed in these examples are potential key indicator species and are not meant to be a comprehensive list, since wildlife is found in a variety of contexts given specific site conditions. It is important to include a range of wildlife types in the biodiversity profiles, from native mammals and birds to benthic macroinvertebrate insects such as mayflies, stoneflies, and damselflies that often indicate water quality and riparian habitat health. Individual plant species have specific habitat considerations and ecological interactions that are crucial for the establishment of habitat for the diversity of wildlife as shown in the biodiversity profiles. Specific plant species for the plant communities shown in the biodiversity profiles are listed in detail in Appendix Volume I: Design Guidelines Chapter 5. The biodiversity profiles also assume smart design and appropriate adaptive management and maintenance for the ecosystems to function as drawn. Responding to the geophysical context, creating vertical vegetation structure, and shade connectivity are all important considerations in ensuring biodiversity along the LA River. The use of biodiversity profiles while further engaging qualified ecologists and scientists in projects can help to add additional ecological data on a project-by-project basis.

Using the Kit of Parts and Biodiversity Profiles

The kit of parts and biodiversity profiles are two tools for design. Together, they provide a vast array of design ideas that can address the varied human, ecological, and infrastructural needs of the LA River and its corridor.

The six kit of parts typologies organize design components around significant opportunities for transformation along the river but are not intended to be exclusive or restrictive. In fact, kit of parts components are meant to be combined in creative ways, and this can include combining components within and across typologies. The goal of the kit of parts is to facilitate the creation of projects that are multi-benefit in nature.

Biodiversity profiles should be seen as an additional layer of information to be coordinated with the kit of parts. These place due emphasis on the role of the LA River and adjacent land as habitat for plants and animals, helping to support a robust ecosystem along the river’s route through LA County by correctly matching the biodiversity of improvements with native conditions.

Common Elements

In addition to the project-scaled design components in the kit of parts, smaller common design elements include pavilions, access stairs and ramps, and site furnishings such as lights, hygiene facilities, seating, trash and recycling, water fountains, guardrails, gates, bike racks, environmental graphics, emergency call boxes, and art. While recommended kit of part design components are mostly determined by a site’s need, common elements are more driven by cadence, either required at all project sites, or at set intervals along the LA River Trail to provide safety, comfort, and wayfinding. Common elements are addressed in greater detail in the LA River Master Plan Design Guidelines.

Common elements section with elements keyed in
  1. Pavilion
    0.5-3 miles
  2. Cafe
    2-3 miles
  3. Hygiene Facilities
    2-3 miles
  4. Restroom
    1 mile
  5. Benches
    0.5 miles
  6. Emergency Call Box
    0.5 miles
  7. Water Fountain
    0.5 miles
  8. Trash & Recycling
    0.5 miles
  9. Bike Rack
    0.5 miles
  10. Environmental Graphics
  11. Lighting
  12. Planting
  13. Stairs / Ramps
    as needed
  14. Guardrails
    as needed
  15. Fences and Gates
    as needed
  16. Stormwater BMPs
    as needed
  17. Art / Performance Space
    whenever possible
  18. Recreation
    whenever possible
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