Pershing Square Renew has revealed the plans of four finalists for an overhaul to the oldest park in Los Angeles, Pershing Square. Opened in 1866, with subsequent name changes and redesigns – the most recent, by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta and landscape architect Laurie Olin, opened in 1994 – the park’s next identity could be crafted by wHY + Civitas, James Corner Field Operations with Frederick Fisher & Partners, Agence TER and Team, or SWA | Morphosis. The finalists were selected from a semi-finalist round of ten proposals last December, and now the Pershing Square Renew jury will deliberate before announcing a winner on May 12.
Pershing Square is a five-acre park bounded by 5th Street to the north, 6th Street to the south, Hill Street to the east, and Olive Street to the west, in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. The redevelopment has been led by Councilmember José Huizar, the Department of Recreation and Parks, MacFarlane Partners (provider of start-up funding for Pershing Square Renew), and other leaders, including Gensler and the law offices of Loeb and Loeb.
wHY + Civitas:
Culver City relative newcomers wHY partnered with Denver’s well-known Civitas Landscape Architecture group.
“Los Angeles thrives on the synergy, overlap and intersection of many cultures and identities,” said wHY’s Kulapat Yantrasast and Civitas’s Mark Johnson. “Pershing Green will host and heighten these ideas as the hub of food, arts, nature and culture. The Green will be that living heart enabling Angelenos' courage and free spirit.”
James Corner Field Operations with Frederick Fisher & Partners:
New York’s James Corner is responsible for Manhattan’s High Line as well as Santa Monica’s Tongva Park. Los Angeles’s Frederick Fisher is known for his connection to art and community institutions, such as Santa Monica’s restored Annenberg Community Beach House and exhibitions at LACMA.
“Our vision for Pershing Square aims to bring greenery, cafes, promenades, social life, flexible space and a meaningful center back into the heart of a burgeoning Downtown LA,” said James Corner, founder and director of James Corner Field Operations. “We envision a park that is both formal and informal, civic yet casual – a ‘garden theater’ providing a varied assortment of spaces for everyday use, special event programming, cultural exchange and innovation.”
Agence TER and Team:
Paris-based Agence TER’s landscapes dot Europe and have reached the Middle East and French Guyana.
“By flattening the lifted surface and removing all of the walls, Pershing Square will reach out to the neighborhood again, establishing a real dialogue with the city,” said Henri Bava, found and director of Agence TER. “Reintroducing flexible uses as well as nature will bring a strong identity for Downtown Los Angeles; the new park will aim to install an urban ecosystem, with a generous canopy providing shade, an inviting lawn and Californian gardens. It will become a green, sustainable and active destination for the metropolis and will be timeless and elegant through its welcoming simplicity.”
SWA | Morphosis:
Both of these firms are based in Downtown LA and well represented throughout Southern California, as well as nationally and internationally.
“Our proposal reasserts Pershing Square as a dynamic living platform that animates the urban center and advances the long- term vision of the city of Los Angeles as a vibrant cultural capital and global leader in sustainability,” said Gerdo Aquino, CEO of SWA and Thom Mayne, Design Director of Morphosis. “As a meeting ground, event venue, playground, and peaceful refuge, a downtown park is the ultimate stage upon which urban life unfolds. It is also the city’s platform for projecting the values and substantive actions that promote a vision for its direction and future.
Downtown LA’s renaissance as a premiere location for retail, offices, dining, entertainment, and residences calls for a central square that enhances the district’s emerging position within a greater social, political, environmental and economic context. Our proposal creates a park that is active throughout the day and evening, anchored by dining, concessions, and green-tech educational facilities. An aural garden and children’s playscape accompany a vast, lush lawn, which is maintained by a sustainable wetland water feature.
Distinct Southern California ecologies lie at the base of a solar-powered hydroponic urban farming tower. The park provides the vital park elements that everyone enjoys, while advancing a future of economic and ecological sustainability.”
The Pershing Square Renew Jury:
- Janet Marie Smith (Jury Chair), SVP, Planning and Development, Los Angeles Dodgers
- José Huizar, Councilmember, 14th District, City of Los Angeles
- Donna Bojarsky, Founder and President, Future of Cities: Leading in LA
- Simon Ha, Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council and Downtown LA Resident
- Mary McCue, Founder, MJM Management Group
- Rick Poulos, Principal, NBBJ
- Janet Rosenberg, Founding Principal, Janet Rosenberg & Studio
- Michael Shull, General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks,
- Michael Woo, Dean, Cal Poly Pomona, School of Environmental Design
Descriptions of the Projects are from Pershing Square Renew. For more about the proposals, visit the organization’s website here.
AD Classics: Pershing Square / Ricardo Legorreta + Laurie Olin