LOS ANGELES RIVER
DENISE TANG CORPORATE IDENTITY SPRING 2014
TABLE OF CONTENTS 5
DESIGN DEVELOPMENT Mind Mapping
Concept & Strategy
APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT Concept & Strategy
INTRODUC TION MISSION STATEMENT: The Los Angeles River is a concrete waterway flowing from the San Fernando valley to Long Beach. It is in essence a man-made storm drain. Friends of the LA River want to rebrand and make use of the stark structure to reclaim the former glory of the natural habitat. Their main goals are: to restore the natural habitat; create hiking, biking, and horse trails along the riverbanks; invite the public to kayak in the actual river; reforest the river’s watershed to control flooding; educate students about the importance of the river; improve water quality; coordinate trash and graffiti clean-ups; create an “LA River Conservancy” to control development along the riparian corridor; place the LA bridges on the National Historic Registry; and encourage proper use of reclaimed water for irrigation and recharging aquifers. s o urce: w w w. f o lar.o rg
ASSESSMENT When I first heard of the Los Angeles River, I was surprised. A river is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Los Angeles. I visited parts of the river with my class and saw a concrete, man-made waterway that didn’t deserve the name “river”. The grimy pillars, slimy garbage, and general stink repulsed me. It made me feel disappointed that a river previously full of life and natural beauty was reduced to a sewer chute for humans. The Los Angeles River began as a source of life for the Tongva people around 7,000 years ago. The Native Americans congregated in at least 45 villages by the river. In 1771, Mission San Gabriel was established by Spanish explorers. They named the Tongva as the Gabrieliño. The Portolà expedition named the river “El Río de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Los Ángeles de Porciúncula”, meaning “The River of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula”. The name was eventually shortened to “Los Angeles”. Huge floods occurred in 1825, 1914, and 1934 before Congress allowed the construction of concrete channels. The largest flood on record occured in 1938 before the Army Corps finished the solid new Los Angeles River. The river is currently 51 miles long, starting in the city of Calabasas and ending in the city of Long Beach. As I saw more parts of the river, I realized there were pockets of beauty; miniature oases emerging from the center of the stream. I could see even in these small parts that the river used to be a paradise. The former species that inhabited the river included the California golden bear, grey wolf, coyote, mule deer, and North American beaver. Although these animals could never return to the current habitat because of human competition, I had hope that the river could return to some semblance of its former glory. Humans changed the river to suit their industrial needs over 80 years ago; today, humans can change the river to suit their emotional needs and the needs of their fellow inhabitants.
BENEFIT ANALYSIS Besides glimpses of wildlife, the river currently offers year-round bike paths and kayaking during the summer. The wildlife is enjoyed best by strolling along the length of the river, although I had to scramble down a sloped rockface to get close enough to the edge. The view up close is important; seeing the river flow and live is crucial to the experience. Up close I could see the moss floating with the current and occassionally, darting fish. I could see the curious, suspicious eyes of the American coots glaring at me from their numerous groups. The bike paths are the same as the pedestrian paths, which could cause an accident, although there are yield signs. Kayaking is adventurous and fun, and easy for anyone to do, because of the flatness of the river. However, the limiting factor of the season hinders the number of activities available. The majority of the year, observing nature while walking would be the main focus.
E XISTING CONDITIONS
BR AND ANALYSIS The Los Angeles river is a muddy gem. It has great potential to become an easily accessible park that offers a wildlife experience inside an urban city. Visitors can travel up and down the river on a self-guided expedition via thorough directional and informational signage. While the existing signage is thorough, standard, and helpful, its design is disjointed, outdated, and dirty. It seems like the signs were put up in waves by different designers. They are also not well-maintained. The existing signage could desperately benefit from a coherent, simple theme that is durable, cheap, and beautiful. I think people respect good design; a beautiful place increases the value of an overall area.
DESIGN DE VELOPMENT
E XIS TING
CONCEPT & STR ATEGY My vision for the rebranding of the Los Angeles River is a theme of adventure. I feel that people in urban and suburban areas are out of touch with nature. The modern world feels so small with technology and our own little bubbles; we need to go outside and appreciate the fantastic earth weâ€™ve been born in. I want people to develop their own natural human curiosity. I want people to want to observe the beauty in their own city. I want an adventure in the wild to be as easy as driving half an hour to a park where I can genuinely explore and learn about the natural world. The aesthetics of my redesign will be based on the advertisements of the 1950s-1960s. The ads channeled an ideal that everyone wanted: a simple, clean, and happy world. While those values may or may not have reflected on true society, the whimsy and cheerfulness of those ads would work well for a wayfinding system that is interesting yet unobtrusive.
LOGO DE VELOPMENT The first few rounds of sketches, I let myself freely draw everything that came to my mind. It was a good experience not to limit myself and get to the true essence of the river. In the last round of my logo sketches, I played with crests and patterns. I took my influence from the animals of the Los Angeles river and from the imagery of the Tongva people. By this time, I wasnâ€™t happy with the images I produced and was leaning toward a wordmark. I would incorporate the circular look into my signage.
T YPE DE VELOPMENT Hearkening back to my concept of mid-century simplicity, I decided to use a wordmark. Instead of memorizing a logo, visitors to the river would just have to read the words. “The Los Angeles River” started to seem like an eyeful, and I wanted to find a way to shorten the length. “L.A. River” read as “La River”. Stacking the words looked bad, resulting in an awkward overall shape.
In my second round of typographic logos I experimented with sans-serif brush type, but it felt unfriendly. I still preferred a flowing script to reflect the nature of the river. However, uppercase letters in script don’t look cohesive next to each other. I was having a lot of trouble deciding what direction to go with at this point.
T he LA River The LA River The LA River
The L A River The LA River
The La River
The La River
The La River
WORDMARK REFINEMENT I chose to use a script; it felt friendly, organic, and classic. I went through many variations of a script font, looking for the perfect feel. Most felt too flashy and had too much contrast. My instructor pointed out that it’s difficult to read high-contrast typefaces from far away. Going through a bunch of scripts made me realize that many companies have an identity associated with certain looks. For example, although Disney owns a certain typeface for their identity, their image extends to all brush scripts with a straight, even-width look. It was difficult to get away from being associated with that because I wanted the same friendly and open feeling.
Th e Los Angeles River Eventually, I found the perfect typeface: Olivier. It was clean and simple. It felt right when I typed it out. I had to adjust the kerning and baseline shift obsessively, but I think the end product was worth it. When I asked my peers for feedback, they mostly commented on the excessive length of the wordmark. It would be more difficult to apply this logo onto products. One remark stood out: “Los” in Spanish means “the”, so “The Los Angeles River” was redundant. This comment allowed me solve both problems at once. I cut off the “the” and shortened the wordmark into a digestible line of flowing text. “Los Angeles River” felt perfect.
T YPEFACE C: 0 M: 0
LOS ANGELES RIVER
E: OLIVIER Y: 0 K : 9 0
APPLIC ATION DE VELOPMENT
CONCEPT & STR ATEGY My adventure theme for the Los Angeles River focuses on an all-inclusive wayfinding system. Having entrances around every 10 miles would allow all of the people of Los Angeles county to have access to a wildlife oasis. A rivers is a source of life, and everyone should be able to use it to appreciate nature. I want signage to be as unobtrusive as possible to compliment the views of the flora and fauna. The look should blend in as much as possible with the overall palette of the river. The gates would be made of welded steel cut into organic images reflecting the identity of each city the gate is in. Directional signage is critical and I want it to be as functional as possible. They would serve as both pointers and sources of light. Informational signage would tell visitors of the history of the river, people, and wildlife. I want to encourage families to interact with the environment with a standard techonological component: a community data collection mobile app.
PRIMARY SIGNAGE SIDE
The primary signage is a main gate made of welded steel cutouts on a mesh backing, sup the steel curves. The theme reflects the wildlife and plantlife found along and in the river. Angeles River. The main entrance gate is duplicated on both sides of the river for easier a
WELDED STEEL GATE FRONT
pported by concrete pillars. There is an arch with â€œLos Angeles Riverâ€? embedded between This entrance is located at Elysian Park, which is located in the middle of the length of Los access. The handles are accessible for the disabled.
WELDED STEEL GATES Secondary signage consists of 6 welded steel gates for each of the entrances with cut-out accents and concrete pillars, following the theme of the primary signage. Each gate has the same measurements and structure, but vary in aesthetics due to the style of the individual artists that will be commissioned to create them. The entrances are at: Calabasas, Sepulveda Dam, Griffith Park, Huntington Park, Compton, and Long Beach. The arch of text over each gate marks the area. The gates are duplicated on each side of the river, for access from either side. The gates have handles that are accessible to the disabled, and can be locked and open from both sides. The mesh backing would both support the artistic cut-outs and prevent hands from being stuck between the parts. The art on each gate corresponds to the history, character, and overall aesthetic of each location: Calabasas came from calabaza, the Spanish word for pumpkin; Sepulveda Dam boasts a wildlife reserve that is home to the rare red-legged frog and Bell’s vireo; Griffith Park’s ostrich farm roots and famous observatory; Huntington Park’s Pacific Boulevard; Compton’s Eagle Tree and Angeles Abbey Cemetery; and Long Beach’s iconic scenery in The Pike. These gates were inspired by the artist Michael Amescua, who was commissioned to create welded steel cutout gates for the Los Angeles River.
SECONDARY SIGNAGE SIDE
WELDED STEEL GATES
DIREC TIONAL SIGNAGE FRONT
LIGHT POSTS TOP
Directional signage consists of a simple concrete light post (LED) with multiple circular steel bands and cut outs in the shape of text. The bands have a translucent white plastic backing to make the cutouts more readable. The text indicates where a walking trailhead begins, a bike path, and a kayak entrance point. Each direction has a vine-line trail that tapers to a leaf shape that is cut out of the metal. The leaf points to the direction of the activity. The viewer must walk in the direction of the activity they want to participate in. The directional signs will be located at every entrance and quarter mile.
DIREC TIONAL /INFORMATIONAL SIGNAGE Tongva People The Tongva people have lived in the Los Angeles area for 3,500 years. They are also known as the Gabriele単o, Fernande単o, and Nicole単o. These names were given to them by Spanish missionaries. After the invasion of the Spanish missionaries, the Tongva people dwindled and diluted into other Native American communities. Today, there are more than 1,700 people that are part of the Tongva tribe.
This directional/informational sign consists of a map, historical information, and wildlife i illuminated with an LED light in a vine pattern, which indicates to the viewer that there ar display consists of paper inserts behind plastic covers and is backlit by LEDs. The top of th outside is a concrete facade and the inside has a skeleton of steel mesh. These triangular
TRIANGUL AR PRISM KIOSK Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias The Great Blue Heron is the largest of the North American herons. It sports a ďŹ‚irty plume at the back of its neck at the beginning of the mating season. Listen for croaking; it vocalizes when it is disturbed or in a ďŹ ght. It snaps its bill sharply when attracting female mates. The Great Blue Heron is an opportunistic eater; it will devour any animal small enough to swallow.
nformation. The historical and wildlife information vary on each prism. Each side is re more sides. The leaves lead the eye to the information on the top half of the prism. The he prism has a removable panel for changes in information and light maintenance. The prisms are located at each entrance and at every mile.
INFORMATIONAL SIGNAGE TOP
ENAMEL Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias The Great Blue Heron is the largest of the North American herons. It sports a ﬂirty plume at the back of its neck at the beginning of the mating season.
Listen for croaking; it vocalizes when it is disturbed or in a ﬁght. It snaps its bill sharply when attracting female mates. The Great Blue Heron is an opportunistic eater; it will devour any animal small enough to swallow.
SIDE G re a t B l u e H e ro n Ardea herodias
T he Great Blue Heron is the larges t of the Nor th Americ an herons. It spor t s a ﬂir t y plume at the back of it s neck at the beginning of the mating season. L is ten for croaking; it voc alizes when it is dis turbed or in a ﬁght. It snaps it s bill sharply when attr ac ting female mates. T he Great Blue Heron is an oppor tunis tic eater; it will devour any animal small enough to swallow.
CONCRE TE C YLINDERS Informational signage consists of cylindrical concrete pillars with interchangeable steel plaques and enamel image discs. Each pillar describes either an animal or a plant, with an enamel image disc that corresponds to the subject. These discs work in conjunction with smaller, separate pillars that indicate a spot where the species is typically spotted. The pillars are at hip height, enabling standing adults, the wheelchair-bound, and children to easily read. The pillars are heavily interspersed on Los Angeles River; they appear near spots on the river that are densely packed with life.
INFORMATIONAL SIGNAGE ENAMEL IMAGE DISCS
GRE AT BLUE HERON
CALIFORNIA RED-LEGGED FROG
S TEELHE AD TROUT
These cylindrical indicational pillars are tied to the informational pillars; the enamel discs match to lead people to these stations. These pillars serve both as an indicator for endemic wildlife spots and as a rubbing station where kids (or adults) can create crayon rubbings on top of the steel reliefs. The steel reliefs depict the skeleton for the animal. They can be taken off to be replaced or switched in case the animal changes common locations. These indicators are located within viewing distance of each informational cylinder. The idea of this system is to encourage visitors to feel a sense of discovery.
MOBILE APPLIC ATION
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
COLL ABOR ATIVE DATA COLLEC TION
Menu Home About Gallery Sounds History Donate Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
People will never let go of their phones, not even while enjoying nature. Instead of fighting technology, the Los Angeles River application uses it. To further enhance the natural experience, this application invites users to take photos and collect sounds of animals to share with others. They can also view information about each species and view professional galleries. This collaborative effort to document the wildlife of Los Angeles River brings awareness, inspires passion, and fosters community by bridging the gap between the modern city of Los Angeles and its hidden river. As well as allowing users to collect and share visual and audio data, this application has a large database of stunning photos and clear audio files of bird song. On many days, wild animals remain hidden or stay silent. With this application, a user can enjoy the experience of nature at anytime.
CONCLUSION The Los Angeles River is a concrete drainage system that has immense potential. Revitalization could create a paradise within the city of angels. With beautiful trails for hiking, biking, and riding horses, nature could push back urban sprawl. The waterway could still serve its purpose; flooding could flow through naturally and cause less destruction to humans. With less development, there would be less financial loss due to natural disaster. A clean river could bring back the magnificent steelhead trout and various other water life. Kayaking could be a peaceful adventure with glimpses of the mysterious creatures lurking in the water and in the trees. Educational tours could pull youth away from their screens and into magical wilderness. Increased interest and care in the river could increase conservation and land place the Los Angeles river on the National Historic Registry. An adventure is not a forgotten past time; you can travel to a new land in your own backyard. The Los Angeles river can unite a city with its wild side.
LOS ANGELES RIVER