Riverside Roundabout: Faces of Elysian - CODAworx

Riverside Roundabout: Faces of Elysian

Client: Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, Department of Transportation

Location: Los Angeles, CA, United States

Completion date: 2017

Artwork budget: $1,200,000

Project Team

Industry Resource

Craig Gerber

Coldspring | Building Materials


Ignacio Villa

BOE Bridge Improvement Division | Civil Engineering Associate

Industry Resource

Brent Bucknum

Hyphae Design Laboratory

Lead Artist

Freyja Bardell and Brian Howe



Site: Riverside Bridge and Roundabout
Artist team: Greenmeme Freyja Bardell and Brian Howe
Commissioning agent: Department of Transportation, LABOE, HNTB Engineering
Stone fabricator: Coldspring Granite
General contractor: Flatiron West, Inc
Landscape consultants: Hyphae Design Lab, ML A
Medium: Granite, Landscape, LED’s, Permeable Pavers
Dimensions: 100′ by 100′ diameter. Sculptures 8’ – 12’ high
Nine sculptures are the faces of local residents captured in 3-D scans and then water-jet-cut out of granite sourced from a Yosemite-area quarry. The sculptures are sited in a remediative landscape that uses plants sourced from the adjacent River.


Desiring a holistic project, the coordination of multiple disciplines was critical to the roundabout’s realization. The primary goal was for an integrated public artwork that would serve as a gateway to the five communities which surround it, simultaneously providing optimal visual clearances for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Other goals were for the artwork to be dynamic, low maintenance, durable, environmentally focused and representational of the LA River. In meeting these goals, we chose to use a locally sourced California granite and used a Russian doll nesting technique to create three sculptures out of one block of stone. Every piece of stone was used, with the off-cuts creating the outer granite ring, which serves as a barricade to traffic. To define the optimal shape, the height and density of the sculptures were designed to the ideal “visual sight-lines” for objects within a roundabout, defined by Oursten Roundabout Engineering.
We designed a stormwater detention landscape, including an outer ring of vegetated pavers that serves as the required truck apron. Curb cuts and a sculpted topography, capture and detain stormwater from the bridge. The landscape uses local, water wise plants, typical of the riparian LA river corridor and irrigated with wastewater.


This was a highly collaborative project that included contractors, engineers and multiple public agencies within city government and the community.
Greenmeme Studio, worked with these organizations to set up 3D scanning workshops and captures local residence faces. Over 200 people contributed to the pieces.
The initial design for the stormwater detention landscape was in collaboration with Hyphae Design Lab. Revisions and updates were done by the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering and managed by HNTB and CH2MHill. Irrigation plans were provided by ML A. Oursten Roundabout Engineering, communicated whether the artwork could and could not impeed on drivers views. This defined the height and density of the nine sculptures.
The partnership with our fabricator, Cold Spring Granite, required complete project understanding from design through installation. With a vast inventory of individually cut stone, the cataloging and storage of the pieces were critical to project success.
The General Contractor for the Project, Flatiron West, Inc, subcontracted installer. Cleveland Marble, who we worked closely with during installation of the sculptures and outer ring.
Finally, midnight field tests with our lighting consultant, helped us find the best lighting solutions for the pieces.