11/13/18 Professors Vittoria Di Palma and Alexander Robinson Author Essay on History of LA River
Los Angeles River. Photo by Vittoria Di Palma
USC Architecture Professors Vittoria Di Palma and Alexander Robinson recently published “Willful Waters” in Places Journal. The article, which tracks the sometimes tumultuous relationship between the Los Angeles River and Angelenos, highlights a growing movement to rehabilitate and revitalize an integral part of the city’s history. Swinging alternately between a “full-flowing river with very good water” and a “concrete-encased trickle” over the course of three centuries, the river illustrates the idea of restoration drawn from Thomas Cole’s The Course of Empire, to which the authors allude. Can “a site, destroyed and degraded by human industry... be transformed into something evocative of its original condition through the power of ‘nature’ guided by enlightened design?” “Willful Waters” doesn’t quite answer the question, but presents a compelling argument in the affirmative.