LA Times: Re-imagining the landmark Silver Lake Reservoir

Photo by Shawnda Thomas Faveau, March 2, 2008

Photo by Shawnda Thomas Faveau, March 2, 2008

This article is from the LA Times, by Marisa Gerber, published February 15, 2014:

People are pitching and debating ideas of how to get the area freed up and transformed into something more park-like.

In one of his earliest boyhood memories, Dion Neutra walked out the front door of his family's Silver Lake home and down to the water's edge. It was the early 1930s, and the wall around Silver Lake Reservoir was so low that he could fling a fishing line above it and into the water.

But over the next eight decades, the architect — who trained under his father, Richard Neutra, a master of Modernism who lived and worked out of Silver Lake — watched as the water he loved began to change. It was drained several times and its shoreline pushed back. At one point a barbed wire-topped fence went up, and it seemed more off-limits than ever.

This fortress-like treatment was a necessity. It protected the drinking water stored in Silver Lake — and in the smaller, adjacent Ivanhoe Reservoir — from contamination. But an upcoming Los Angeles Department of Water and Power project will disconnect the reservoirs from the city's drinking water system as part of a federal mandate to phase out open-air reservoirs. It opens up the possibility of transforming the space near the water into something more recreational.

And the prospect of re-imagining an L.A. landmark has sparked a rush of ideas and enthusiasm — from neighborhood newcomers to lifelong residents like Neutra.

Now, people are pitching and debating ideas of how to get the area freed up and transformed into something more park-like. There's the Silver Lake Plunge plan, which would transform the smaller reservoir into a swimming area. An early rendering of the beach-meets-pool mash-up shows a sandy shore dotted with sunbathers and umbrellas and a lake partly delineated with lanes for swimming laps.

Another plan conceived by the Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy would transform the dam between Ivanhoe and Silver Lake into an esplanade. The design for the project — which conservancy president Craig Collins described as visionary but very preliminary — shows kids playing on a bench and a man jogging along a walkway with views of the water to both sides. Charles Herman-Wurmfeld of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council wrote his own manifesto, in which he imagines an opened-up area where people can get into the water and asks people with other ideas to email him with "Dreaming about a new park" in the subject line.

Link to full article:,0,7579276.story#ixzz2tVqjIq5d