Architect Frank Gehry is helping L.A. with its Los Angeles River master plan, but secrecy troubles some

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Architect Frank Gehry is working with city officials to draft a new master plan for the redevelopment of the Los Angeles River, bringing the avant-garde sensibilities of one of the world's best-known artistic celebrities to the struggle to remake 51 miles of the Los Angeles Basin's largely desolate central waterway. Gehry's designs for the flaring steel walls of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles have become icons of contemporary architecture. Since last year, he has been quietly at work on what officials describe as the beginnings of an overarching plan for the bridges, bike paths, walkways and other improvements intended to revive public use of the river as it winds from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach.

Many details of the Los Angeles-based architect's vision remain under wraps. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the L.A. River Revitalization Corp., a nonprofit group created to coordinate the renewal effort, had not planned to announce Gehry's role until later this month. After The Times disclosed Gehry's involvement Friday, Garcetti said the architect is working on the project pro bono and producing “a master plan, in the truest sense of the word.” The mayor compared it to the work of famed urban designer Frederick Law Olmsted, who created New York City's Central Park.

“To have the Olmsted of our time focusing on this, I think, is extraordinary,” Garcetti said at an unrelated City Hall news conference.

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