2012 Turnbull Design Competition winner Robert Lamb, AIA AICP LEED AP, offers an update on his award winning research project, “Silver Lake Reservoir.” One of the goals of this competition is to work toward turning visions into reality. This is one example.
The 2012 ALI Drylands Design Conference, March 23, 2012, was a great opportunity to showcase my work and build upon href=”http://cafsite.org/environment/turnbull-design-competition/turnbull-drylands-design-2011-2012/2012-turnbull-prize-winners/#Lamb”>my winning entry for the William Turnbull Jr. Design Competition: Drylands Design. I’m determined that my conference presentation be the beginning of the challenging but worthwhile task of making this project a reality. Over the past six months since the conference, I have reached out to grass roots constituencies, technical experts and local policymakers to build awareness and support for the project.
My first priority was to get the work that I had done in front of the community. Community activism has helped preserve and protect the Silver Lake Reservoir, and support from the community of Silver Lake will be instrumental in moving forward.
I created a website showcasing the presentation for the Drylands Conference and began talking with local blogger, Jesus Sanchez, whose blog The Eastsider is one of the most widely read blogs in Los Angeles. His thoughtful piece on the project received many favorable comments and sparked a wide-ranging discussion on the future of Silver Lake. Shortly afterward another piece was posted in Echo Park Patch, profiling the project.
Even among well-informed residents, there is no unanimity on the future use of the reservoir site. While most residents are excited by the potential for increased recreational spaces, others feel that preserving wildlife habitat and maintaining restricted access is paramount. Some see the wide-open expanses of water as the essence of what makes this area such a special space, while others think that a mixture of habitats would be more beneficial. No great site goes uncontested, and the debates over Silver Lake’s future are essential as we progress forward. My project is a response to the certainty that change is coming to the Reservoirs, and I think a healthy debate within the community is a vital part of the process.
In addition to reaching out to the community directly, I have also begun to engage the many activists who have been committed to the preservation of Silver Lake for decades. The Silver Lake Reservoir Conservancy (formerly The Committee to Save Silver Lake’s Reservoirs) has been critical in preserving the reservoirs as open bodies of water and adding public parkland and trails at its periphery. I invited the president of the organization, Craig Collins, to the Drylands Conference; and he graciously attended. Since the conference, I’ve met periodically with Craig and members of his board to explain my project and discuss future partnerships.Even among well-informed residents, there is no unanimity on the future use of the reservoir site. While most residents are excited by the potential for increased recreational spaces, others feel that preserving wildlife habitat and maintaining restricted access is paramount. Some see the wide-open expanses of water as the essence of what makes this area such a special space, while others think that a mixture of habitats would be more beneficial. No great site goes uncontested, and the debates over Silver Lake’s future are essential as we move forward. My project is a response to the certainty that change is coming to the Reservoirs, and I anticipate a lively discussion within the community.
Meanwhile I had the opportunity to show my research to the two City Council offices who preside over the Reservoir. Councilmen Tom La Bonge and Eric Garcetti have both been committed to the preservation and enhancement of the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe Reservoirs during their multiple terms on the City Council. I was delighted to receive a Certificate of Recognition, signed by both Councilmembers as well as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The certificate reads as follows:
On behalf of the City of Los Angeles, I wish to offer my sincere appreciation for your inventive design for the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe Reservoirs. While many have sounded the alarm over water scarcity in the American West, your work acknowledges the challenges ahead with a clear and positive vision for the future of these treasured bodies of water and open space in the heart of Los Angeles.
In addition to government officials, I have also presented the project to representatives of government agencies and non-profits including the Trust for Public Land, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, the Los Angeles Economic Development Council, and the Southern California Water Committee.The reaction to my Silver Lake Microshed project has been overwhelmingly positive, and I have been lucky to have the opportunity to meet with so many receptive audiences. Getting the project adequate attention is absolutely essential to the process, but now I am ready to enter a new phase of deepening the understanding of how the project will work and understanding the issues behind costs, benefits and phasing. In the coming year, I hope to better understand the existing resources within the local water system and begin a feasibility study for the project. Concurrently I am looking for ways to continue outreach to the community and build support both from the bottom up and the top down.
Robert Lamb can be reached by email at email@example.com