French Firm Chosen to Redesign Pershing Square

DTLA — People who live and work in Downtown Los Angeles have long asked for a change at Pershing Square, which was originally a park filled with greenery, but for several decades has been better described as a parking garage with a faded concrete plaza.

Now, the path to a greener and more vibrant park is in play. This morning, the nonprofit Pershing Square Renew and 14th District City Councilman José Huizar announced that the Paris-based Agence Ter has won a bidding competition to redesign the park in the heart of Downtown.

Agence Ter beat out three other finalists. The team’s design features large expanses of grass in the center of the property, with hardscaped plazas and other gathering spaces dotting the perimeter.

Four Finalists for Pershing Square Redesign

“From the very launch of Pershing Square Renew, our goal was to create an open, warm and inviting design that was focused on serving people and not form,” Huizar said in a prepared statement, “one that would allow Pershing Square, the city’s oldest park, to reclaim its place as the true heart of Downtown Los Angeles.”

The most dramatic feature is the “smart canopy,” a lengthy shade structure that would run along Hill Street from Fifth to Sixth streets. The slats of the canopy would light up at night to create what the firm has described as a “digital fireplace.” Underneath would be several flexible spaces for cafes, pop-up restaurants, a visitor’s center and more.

Another plaza would sit on the Sixth Street side of the park, while the western edge would hold smaller gardens with edible plants, water features and more. The central “Great Lawn” would host concerts, film screenings and other community events.


Image Courtesy Agence Ter

The firm and its partners will work with Pershing Square Renew to finalize designs while the nonprofit searches for funding. While each team had to keep to a $50 million construction budget, only a small portion of the funds has been secured.

The selection of Agence Ter marks the culmination of a design competition that began last summer, when Pershing Square Renew asked architects and landscape designers from around the world to reimagine Pershing Square. Dozens of applicants were whittled down to four; those teams presented their final designs to the public at a splashy event at the Palace Theatre on April 28.

Two weeks later, after having asked for public feedback, the jury for Pershing Square Renew has made its final choice. Pershing Square Renew officials said choice was unanimous between the jury and the public.

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