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A first glimpse at Frank Gehry's vision for an L.A. River makeover

 A first glimpse at Frank Gehry's vision for an L.A. River makeover
The 6th Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River. Architect Frank Gehry has been commissioned to draft an overarching plan for the river's redevelopment. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Reporters are being offered a first look Friday at the work renowned architect Frank Gehry has done in preparation for what officials are calling a "comprehensive vision" for redeveloping the Los Angeles River.

Gehry, the L.A.-based architect behind such iconic structures as Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, has spent months on the groundwork for a makeover of all 51 miles of the river from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach. His involvement in plans for the river's future was a closely kept secret until The Times disclosed it this month.

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The exact nature of Gehry's project remains largely a mystery. In an interview with Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, Gehry said he was interested primarily in approaching the river redesign as a "water-reclamation project" and did not foresee removing the concrete lining that some environmental activists see as among the waterway's least attractive features.

Some longtime river activists have bristled at Gehry's role. Lewis MacAdams, co-founder and president of Friends of the Los Angeles River, has said Gehry's efforts are "the epitome of wrong-ended planning ... coming from the top down."

Officials at the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp., a city-affiliated nonprofit group that commissioned Gehry, say the architect's team is in the early stages of gathering data on the river in preparation for what will be "an expansive approach to improve water conservation and reclamation, as well as expand recreational and open-space opportunities along the river's entire reach."

That data is what Revitalization Corp. officials, along with members of Gehry's team, say they will present to the media for the first time Friday. More details will be posted at latimes.com as they become available.

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