The urbanist with a plan for the LA River


DECEMBER 11, 2019

The urbanist with a plan for the LA River

Illustration by George Wylesol

To landscape designer Mia Lehrer, making LA more livable is all about peeling back the concrete.

Franklin Ivar Park, in the shadow of the Hollywood Freeway in Los Angeles, is a reminder of what the landscape of the city looked like before it was a city. Planted with tall tufty grasses and low shrubs—all of which are drought tolerant and native to California—the design riffs on a creek that once flowed through the area. Now, you’ll find children climbing on boulders, families picnicking on new tables, and birds flocking to leafy trees. At just three-quarters of an acre, the park occupies a formerly vacant space between a busy road and the highway.

“I built parks that are opportunistic,” says Mia Lehrer, the landscape urbanist who masterminded the new public space.

At Studio-MLA, Lehrer has built a thriving practice on finding creative and often overlooked ways to remake Los Angeles into a healthier, more resilient, and more sustainable city. For the past three decades, she has been peeling back concrete and layering in vegetation throughout the city, helping Angelenos achieve a balanced urban ecosystem. …

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