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Jack Skelley has over 25 years of experience at publications ranging from Harper’s magazine to the Los Angeles Times. He specializes in issues surrounding urban design, including architecture, real estate and urban planning. A senior partner at Paolucci Communication Arts, Skelley edits the firm’s “marketeering and urbaneering” e-newsletter and blog, The Hot Sheet. He serves on the Executive Committee of Urban Land Institute, Los Angeles and writes frequently for FORM, Urban Land and Riviera magazine, where he is a Contributing Writer. Other publications include Los Angeles magazine, LAist.com, Angeleno, Riviera Interiors, L.A. Weekly, Wired, Salon, Buzz, PlanNetizen.com, California Homes and California magazine. He is an active blogger on Politico, Curbed L.A., and Huffington Post.

Skelley recently co-edited a book, Los Angeles, Building the Polycentric City, for Congress for the New Urbanism. At Los Angeles Downtown News he served in a series of top positions, including Executive Editor and Associate Publisher.

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Thursday
Sep302010

The L.A. River Banks on Smart Development

Concept rendering of Piggyback Yard development along L.A. RiverWhen poet Lewis MacAdams founded Friends of the Los Angeles River 25 years ago – imagining a lifelong art project to return the bedraggled waterway to greatness and greenness – to some he might have seemed out to lunch. Now we know he was ahead of his time. (I have the distinction of writing the first-ever article about FOLAR; it was for Los Angeles Downtown News.) Witness the new Piggyback Yard plan. MacAdams has enlisted three top architecture firms to create a plan that not only creates green space along the Los Angeles River, it also performs a crucial flood-control role. The idea, reported in the New York Times, “is that on a few days each year, the river would overflow into the yard. The rest of the year, the land would be a park.” This flood-detention aspect is brilliantly essential to comprehensive revitalization, because flood-control was the reason for encasing the river in ugly, community-dividing concrete more than 50 years ago.

The architecture firms are Michael Maltzan Architecture, Perkins + Will and Chee Salette Architecture Office, along with landscape architect, Mia Lehrer. Their plans include a park with soccer fields; miles of paths for walking, running and biking; nature trails; an orchard; a sculpture garden; playgrounds; picnic areas; and large, earth-formed gathering spaces. And the proposal makes room for significant live/work housing and commercial development. That’s both visionary and practical. Best of all, they created a beautiful website to explain it all.

Now, if only they can get Union Pacific Railroad to give up the land.

-- Jack Skelley

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