Gardens by the Bay

Meet PSRenew summer intern Anna Holm. She recently traveled to Singapore. Below she shares with us her thoughts on Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay as both a park and a public space.


Beautiful and popular parks are found all over the world. Many of these public spaces share ideals of community-building, safety, and amusement that people seek out and notice in a good park.

While traveling through the small Asian island nation of Singapore, my host brought me to the country’s largest green space, Gardens by the Bay. This park is a top attraction in Singapore, drawing more than 30 million visitors to date. Located near the seashore, the park consists of art sculptures, gardens, playgrounds, lakes, plant domes, and “Supertrees,” — 50-meter tower-like structures that branch out at their tops, resembling a tree. A visitor has the opportunity to take a walking tour and travel between these trees at an astounding 22 meters in the air.

When I visited this park, I was instantly captivated by the vastness and beauty of the gardens. From the gasps and chatter I heard around me, I could tell that the other spectators felt the same way. But paying a visit to the Gardens by the Bay goes beyond just seeing its beauty. In particular, walking the skywalk between the “Supertrees” as well as through the gardens, I could feel a sense of serenity. Time seemed to slow down as I made my way between the trees. This walk among the supertrees was entirely different from looking out over a balcony in a skyscraper because I could feel the sun’s never-ending heat and breathe in the slight breeze from the sea 360 degrees around me.

There was a lull in the conversations visitors had with one another as they too took in the sights. What is so brilliant and awe-inspiring about Gardens by the Bay is that it is so unique, yet still gives you the same feelings of solace and tranquility as strolling through a neighborhood park. In my opinion, this park is so popular not only because of the breathtaking views and plants, but also because of the connection visitors make when exploring the grounds and sights. I will always remember my experience at Gardens by the Bay because it was unlike anything I have encountered before. Gardens by the Bay is not just a must-see destination in Singapore, but a must-experience destination.

Seeing so many tourists at the park, I became interested in what role the local community plays in its existence. While talking with various residents, I learned that Gardens by the Bay is a typical tourist spot rather than a public space for many of the citizens of Singapore. In contrast to New York City’s Central Park and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Gardens by the Bay is not as integral to Singaporeans’ every-day lives. Possibly having to do with its location, Gardens by the Bay is decentralized from the city and is a metro or car ride away for most people. Unlike many central urban parks, you don’t see workers enjoying a meal on their lunch break or people jogging and dog-walking.

Another factor that differs from public spaces is that many of the park’s attractions have a fee. While the park does have some free exhibits and hold events for all ages, such as  a Supertree light show, Gardens by the Bay seemed to be more of weekend trip rather than a community space for all to enjoy any time or day of the week.

The park’s landscape architect director, Andrew Grant, stated, “We wanted to capture people’s relationship with nature and use innovative technology to create rich lifestyle, educational and recreational experiences for both local residents of Singapore and visitors from around the world.” From my experience at Gardens by the Bay, Grant is correct that the park develops and strengthens a connection between people and nature in an ingenious and daring way. But as a public space to include all communities, the park falls a bit short. With all this being said, Gardens by the Bay is not a typical public space, but is definitely one worth experiencing.

The Marketplace

Floating markets that offer brightly colored produce and goods crowd the waterways in Bangkok, while aromatic and multi-hued bazaars line streets in cities throughout India, and Barcelona boasts over 43 public markets packed with delicacies and local crafts. Throughout the world, geography and culture have combined to create thousands of distinct iterations of public markets. The commonalities between them, however, are what should make all of us in DTLA hungry for more public markets.  

Public Markets: Bangkok Floating Market


They are all based in commerce: supply and demand, the exchange of goods for currency, buyer and seller. Marketplaces allow entrepreneurship to flourish, providing opportunities for small vendors to showcase and (hopefully) sell their products. Whether you’re buying cheese from a cheesemaker in southern France or olives from a farmer in Davis, marketplaces allow small business owners to compete in the financial marketplace.


Another commonality of public markets around the world – and a favorite of many – is sustenance. The colors, textures, sounds, smells, and tastes of each public market are uniquely built by the food carefully curated therewithin. Food denotes environment, heritage, and place. There is nothing quite like walking through the Silverlake Junction Farmers Market and being hit with a wave of citrus-smelling deliciousness, and having that first sip of bright red blood orange juice; with that, you truly know that you’re in California.

Public Space

A third recurring element in public markets worldwide is just that; they are public markets. They are open, accessible, and inclusive to the population at large. Public markets bring together people across socioeconomic strata, ethnicities, political affiliations, genders, sexualities, religions, etc. This part of the puzzle elevates public markets from mere places of commerce to true places to experience the vitality and vibrance of a city.

“Public markets certainly foster sociability and exchanges not only for locals, but for visitors and guests, as well. They are places where cultures mix, and, almost as if on a stage, they are where our public lives unfold. Indianapolis City Market is situated in the heart of its downtown, just across the street from the City-County Building and Marion County Jail. Judges and lawyers can be seen interacting with local government clerks and some of the city’s homeless population. Locals rub elbows with conventioneers, professional athletes, corporate executives, farmers and small-business owners. All feel comfortable, welcome and at ease as public markets encourage this social dynamic.”

–Stevi Stoesz, Executive Director, Indianapolis City Market

On the Home Front

Here in Downtown, we all go to public markets for different purposes. Some go to buy fresh, local produce from farms they can trust. Others go to get their favorite sourdough loaf this side of the 405. Many go to grab a quick and delicious lunch and some fresh air with their coworker before returning to the office. Others still go as a last-minute solution for their friend’s birthday, and leave with a succulent from the plant guru and a soy candle smelling of lavender from the natural oils woman. I, myself, have gone for all of these reasons, and many others.  

My primary driver for frequenting public markets, surprisingly enough, has nothing to do with purchasing the beautiful and/or delicious offerings. Rather I go for a far more basic reason. I go for people. I go for the hub of energy and activity that the market brings to a space. I go, simply, for the experience.

And experience? That doesn’t cost a dime.

For obvious reasons, I’ll recommend the Farmers Market at Pershing Square, which occurs every Wednesday from 10 am until 2pm. It offers an array of produce, fresh foods, artisanal goods, and culinary masterpieces, everything from pupusas – a must-try – to sushirritos. Attracting a diverse crowd of Downtown residents, tourists, and office workers each week, it’s the perfect place to people watch and spend part of your Wednesday.

Public Markets: Pershing Square Farmers Market

If you’re ready for more, check out these other public markets happening in DTLA:

  • Farmers Markets:

    • Pershing Square, every Wednesday at lunchtime

    • Historic District (5th St between Broadway and Spring), every Sunday morning

    • Bunker Hill (Bank of America plaza), every Friday at lunchtime

    • Fig @ 7th, every Thursday at lunchtime

    • Arts District (3rd and Traction), every Saturday afternoon

  • Other Markets:

    • Smorgasburg Los Angeles (8th and Alameda), every Sunday at lunchtime  

We try to be hip, but sometime we miss things… did we forget any markets? Let us know! Email

Major Progress for Pershing Square



Councilmember Huizar: Rick Coca (213) 200-9974
Pershing Square Renew: Marie Condron (213) 925-9605
Recreation & Parks Dept.: Rose Watson

$1.5 Million Awarded to Advance Review Process for Pershing Square
Councilmember Huizar, Pershing Square Renew & Department of Recreation and Parks applaud major step in moving forward with implementing Agence Ter’s ‘Radical Flatness’ design

LOS ANGELES (May 22, 2017) — The City of Los Angeles’ Board of Public Works voted Monday to approve $1.5 million to fund critical feasibility analysis for Agence Ter’s winning Pershing Square Renew design to revitalize the City’s oldest open space in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles.

The $1.5 million contract for this initial phase will allow Paris-based Agence Ter and their Los Angeles contractor, Gruen Associates, to conduct a feasibility analysis for the implementation of the team’s concept for the square. Councilmember José Huizar, who spearheaded the effort to reinvent Pershing Square, the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks, and Pershing Square Renew – the public-private coalition of community stakeholders leading Pershing Square’s transformation – all applaud today’s news.

“Today’s vote represents a critical step forward in our effort to remake Pershing Square into a dynamic and accessible Downtown Los Angeles centerpiece for all Angelenos and visitors to enjoy,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “In the days and months ahead, this analysis will give us the details we need to meet our Pershing Square Renew goals.”

“We believe Agence Ter’s design is an elegantly simple solution to host the community’s expressed programs and activities of interest,” said Eduardo Santana, executive director of Pershing Square Renew. “We are excited by the city’s commitment to advance the project, which is sure to result in Pershing Square reclaiming its place as a prominent destination, and we’re grateful to Councilmember Huizar for his leadership.”

The City of Los Angeles is committed to fully funding all Pershing Square design costs, which will be determined by Agence Ter’s analysis. As part of his commitment to this project, Councilmember Huizar has worked with the Department of Recreation and Parks to commit $2.5 million in Quimby development interest fees to fund the initial design planning phase, including the $1.5 million approved Monday. Additionally, Huizar has worked to ensure $1 million in design funds have been committed by developers through their TFAR community benefit payments to the City. With the robust development in Downtown Los Angeles, additional TFAR and Quimby funds are expected to be available in the future.

“The Department of Recreation and Parks is eager to begin moving forward with this revitalization project that will breathe new life into Pershing Square, one of our oldest green spaces in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles,” said Michael Shull, General Manager, Department of Recreation and Parks. “The funding secured through Quimby development interest fees is a critical step that was necessary to start the process of reimagining this beautiful green oasis for the community and visitors to enjoy once the project is completed.”

Specific scope to be studied in this initial phase of analysis includes identifying the deficiencies in the current Pershing Square and garage (i.e. seismic conditions, fire-life safety components, etc.), determining the challenges faced in executing the design scheme, developing a strategy to address these challenges, a project design and construction budget, and a phasing plan to allow for implementation of the project.

Pershing Square Renew is the non-profit created to work with the City and Councilmember Huizar to drive the re-design of Pershing Square, the five-acre urban park in the heart of Los Angeles. Pershing Square Renew organized and ran the global design competition to reimagine the park, and is working to secure a mix of public and private funding for the park construction. The community-led project has been working with the City of Los Angeles to advance the redesign process, has launched fundraising efforts with the private sector, and is partnering with the City to support and enhance placemaking and programming activities at the current Pershing Square.

Agence Ter’s winning design seeks to bring all four sides of the park level to the street and allow for a pedestrian friendly experience in and around the square. The park currently sits on top of a parking garage. The new design will require removing the top of the parking garage and lowering the roof so that the park can be level with the street.

A Los Angeles-based team of architects, landscape designers and planners recruited Paris-based Agence Ter as their lead in the design competition. The full team includes:

  • SALT Landscape Architects
  • Deborah Murphy Urban Design + Planning
  • Kelly Shannon – RUA, Landscape Urbanism
  • Community Arts Resources LA, Urban Programming
  • Rachel Allen Architecture
  • Pentagram, Branding
  • Still Room, Wayfinding and Graphic Design
  • Leo Villareal, Light Artist
  • Fehr & Peers, Transportation Consultants
  • KPFF, Structural / Civil Engineers
  • M-E Engineering, Mechanical / Electrical / Plumbing Engineers
  • Lighting Design Alliance, Architectural Lighting Design
  • Gruen Associates

In the coming months, the Agence Ter team will prepare a report for the City that will highlight the various challenges and outline next steps. At that time, the City will execute the full design contract and begin the environmental process. Once the feasibility analysis has been completed, Councilmember Huizar and the City will host community meetings with Pershing Square Renew to solicit feedback and refine the design with the public’s input.

Located in the heart of L.A., Pershing Square is the City of Los Angeles’ oldest park, dedicated in 1866 by Mayor Cristobal Aguilar as “La Plaza Abaja” (“the Lower Plaza”). Pershing Square has been redesigned and renamed multiple times since its inception, including design overhauls in the 1950s and early 1990s. The square covers an entire city block adjacent to LA’s Historic Core, Jewelry District, Bunker Hill and Civic Center, as well as a major transit station.

In September 2015, the Los Angeles City Council adopted Councilmember Huizar’s legislation to create a public-private partnership to reimagine Pershing Square and work with Pershing Square Renew, a non-profit partner, which came out of a task force created by Huizar in 2013.

Once the international design competition was announced, Pershing Square Renew received more than 80 letters of interests from design firms throughout the world and more than 50 submittals of qualifications. From that pool, 10 semifinalists were selected in October 2015, four finalists in December 2015, and one winner selected in May 2016.

The proposal from Paris-based Agence Ter drew the highest scores from the 1,355 members of the public who weighed in on the four finalists and was the unanimous first choice of the Pershing Square Renew jury.


In the news: Announcement of Pershing Square Design Competition Winner

Front page of the L.A. Times

“Radical or not, flat, green, open and shaded places for people to gather are precisely what we need more of in Los Angeles… Let me go on record, then, as supporting it: In a city as lacking in attractive and accessible park space as Los Angeles the last place we should be banning lawns is in the civic realm.” — Christopher Hawthorne of Los Angeles Times

“The winning scheme, if built and ultimately successful, would cement Downtown L.A.’s status as one of the city’s distinct and vital neighborhoods.” —The Architect’s Newspaper

“There is something that is wonderfully kind of clear about it, and it is elegant.”  –Frances Anderton, host of DnA: Design & Architecture on KCRW

“This plan comes closest to realizing the holy grail of good public squares, which is providing people a place to stage their own programs, spontaneously and unpredictably, without micromanagement by designers.” –Wade Graham in Los Angeles Times

“If we can support rich guys who want to show off their art collections, we can certainly get this cash together to make L.A.’s original park vibrant for the people again.” –Dennis Romero of LA Weekly

– Airtalk on 89.3 KPCC
City Councilmember weighs in on design choice for Pershing Square, and how homelessness will factor into its remodel,”
featuring José Huizar, May 13

– Arch Daily
Agence Ter Selected to Redesign LA’s Pershing Square with Proposal for “Radical Flatness”,”
by Vladimir Gintoff, May 13

– Attractions Management
Agence Ter win international design competition for revamped public park in LA’s Pershing Square,”
by Kim Megson, May 13

– Los Angeles Times
Op-Ed: “Pershing Square’s new design is flat and simple – and that’s a good thing,”
by Wade Graham, May 13

– Next City
Why Winning Park Design Is a Win for Los Angeles,”
by Josh Stephens, May 13

– Press Play with Madeline Brand on 89.9 KCRW
The New Vision for Downtown’s Pershing Square,”
featuring Frances Anderton, May 13

– Archinect
Agence Ter and Team wins Pershing Square Renew with “radically flat“ proposal,”
by Justine Testado, May 12

– Curbed
Here is the New Design For Hated Pershing Square,”
by Bianca Barragan, May 12

French Architecture Firm Wins Pershing Square Design Competition,”
by John Gregory, May 12

Agence TER and SALT Win Competition to Redesign Pershing Square,”
by Frances Anderton, May 12

– LA Downtown NewsFrench Firm Chosen to Redesign Pershing Square,”
by Eddie Kim, May 12

– LA Weekly
Radical” Design Envisions DTLA’s Pershing Square as an Actual Park,”
by Dennis Romero, May 12

– LAist
The Winning Bid For Downtown’s Pershing Square Has Been Chosen,”
by Julia Wick, May 12

– Los Angeles Times
French landscape firm wins Pershing Square competition with call for ‘radical flatness’,”
by Christopher Hawthorne, May 12

– Los Angeles Times
Pershing Square through the years,”
May 12

– Los Angeles Times Photo-Slider:
Pershing Square, Then and Now,”
May 12

– Los Angeles Times
From the Archives: “Pershing Square’s 1994 redesign concept was aiming for ‘humane’ and ‘romantic’,”
by Larry Gordon, May 12 (originally published Jan. 29, 1994)

Pershing Square’s new look? ‘Radical flatness’,”
by Hillary Jackson, May 12

– Patch
Panel Chooses French Designer’s ‘Radical Flatness’ for Pershing Square,”
by Paige Austin, May 12

– Take Two on 89.3 KPCC
Agence Ter picked to redesign Pershing Square,”
featuring Christopher Hawthorne, May 12

– The Architect’s Newspaper
Agence Ter selected to redesign L.A.’s Pershing Square,”
by Antonio Pacheco, May 12

– The Real Deal
French firm Agence Ter chosen to redesign Pershing Square,”
by Cathaleen Chen & Katherine Clarke, May 12

– Time Out Los Angeles
Take a look at the winning redesign for Pershing Square,”
by Michael Juliano, May 12

Agence Ter and Team win the Pershing Square design competition,”
by Damian Holmes, May 16

Agence Ter and Team wins Pershing Square Renew to redesign DTLA’s oldest public park,”
by Justine Testado, May 12

Winner of LA’s Pershing Square competition announced,”
by Nick Myall, May 13

Pershing Square Renew is in the news:

– The Architects Newspaper
Here’s a First Look at the Finalists Vying to Redesign Downtown LA’s Pershing Square
by Antonio Pacheco, Apr. 28

– The Atlantic CityLab
What Should L.A.’s Central Park Look Like?
by Kriston Capps, Apr. 28

– Curbed LA
Here Are the 4 Proposals For Redesigning Much-Hated Pershing Square
by Bianca Barragan, Apr. 28

– designboom
design teams including morphosis and wHY re-envision downtown LA’s pershing square
by Philip Stevens, Apr. 28

– Dezeen
 “Four competing designs unveiled for Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles
by Eddie Kim, Apr. 28

Interview on All Things Considered with Frances Anderton
Apr. 28

– KCRW Design & Architecture Blog
How Should Pershing Square Be Renewed?
by Frances Anderton, Apr. 28

– KCRW DnA: Design & Architecture
Pershing Square Renewed?
by Frances Anderson, Apr. 27

Vote on the 4 finalists for the Pershing Square redesign (Poll)”
by Christian Brown, Apr. 28

– LA Downtown News
Four Final Designs for Pershing Square
by Eddie Kim, Apr. 28

– LAist
Photos: These Design Finalists Show The Pershing Square Of The Future
by Danny Jensen, Apr. 28

– Los Angeles Times
Pershing Square redesign: New renderings of the four finalists
by Jessica Gelt, Apr. 28

– Los Angeles Times
Pershing Square is an urban planning nightmare. Let’s redesign and get it right this time
Op-Ed by Fred Kent, Apr. 28

– Next City
4 Finalist Designs Revealed for Big Overhaul of L.A. Square
by Jen Kinney, Apr. 29

– The Real Deal
Pershing Square in DTLA is getting one of these four looks
Apr. 28



Pershing Square Renew: Josh Kamensky, (323)
Councilmember Jose Huizar: Rick Coca, (213)


Downtown event will feature first-time unveiling of the finalists’ proposals for a new Pershing Square

WHERE: The Downtown Palace Theater, 630 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014

WHEN: MEDIA PREVIEW – 10:30 am, Thursday, April 28, 2016
Media welcome at evening presentation at 6:30 pm, same location. RSVP requested.

WHOCouncilmember Jose Huizar (invited)

Eduardo Santana, Pershing Square Renew
Four finalists of the Pershing Square Renew global design competition:
SWA | Morphosis
James Corner Field Operations with Frederick Fisher & Partners
Agence TER and Team
wHY + Civitas
RSVP: Josh Kamensky, joshkamensky@gmail.com323 326 7438

EMBARGO: All reporting from this media preview under embargo until 6:30 pm April 28th
WHAT:   The international competition to re-imagine a 150-year-old public park in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles will build to an exciting crescendo on Thursday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. Members of the media are invited to an exclusive preview event at Downtown’s historic Palace Theater at 10:30 am, where the four finalists will showcase their designs and answer questions.

“Pershing Square’s revitalization is the missing puzzle piece for the revitalization of Downtown,” said Eduardo Santana, Executive Director of Pershing Square Renew, “and one of these four world-class teams has found that missing piece.”

“If we’re going to have an active and dynamic public space at Pershing Square, we need robust public engagement on how we get there,” said Councilmember José Huizar, who championed the creation of Pershing Square Renew.

The four finalists are:

The “Local Force”: SWA | Morphosis Both of these firms are based in Downtown LA and well represented throughout Southern California, as well as nationally and internationally. See their previously submitted proposal.
The “Landscape Starchitect”: James Corner Field Operations with Frederick Fisher & Partners. New York’s James Corner is responsible for Manhattan’s High Line, arguably the greatest new public park of the millennium, as well as Santa Monica’s Tongva Park. See their previously submitted proposal.
The “Globetrotters”: Agence TER and Team. Paris-based Agence TER’s landscapes dot Europe and have reached the Middle East and French Guyana. See their previously submitted proposal.
The “Wild Card”: wHY with Civitas. Located in Culver City, relative newcomers wHY, partnered with Denver’s well-known Civitas Landscape Architecture group, offered a creative approach that intrigued the jury at every level of the competition. See their previously submitted proposal.
Pershing Square, the public park that covers an entire city block adjacent to LA’s Historic Core, Jewelry District, Bunker Hill and Civic Center, as well as a major transit station, has seen multiple incarnations, the most recent an overhaul dating back to the early 1990s. In September 2015, Councilmember Huizar spurred the creation of Pershing Square Renew, a public-private partnership to overhaul and re-envision the five-acre park that emerged from the Councilmember’s broad vision for a revitalized Downtown LA.

The four finalists have been developing their proposals since they were selected from a semi-finalist round of ten in December 2015. Following the April 28 events, the Pershing Square Renew jury will deliberate, leading to the final selection of a design team in May 2016.

The Pershing Square Renew jury consists of:

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

About Pershing Square Renew

Pershing Square Renew, Inc. is a non-profit public benefit corporation created to drive the re-design of Pershing Square, a five-acre urban park in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. Bounded by 5th Street to the north, 6th Street to the south, Hill Street to the east, and Olive Street to the west, Pershing Square has been a popular gathering place since 1866. The effort to re-envision historic Pershing Square is led by Councilmember José Huizar, the Department of Recreation and Parks, MacFarlane Partners, and other Downtown leaders.  In Sept. 2015, an international design competition was launched. For more information, visit:

About Councilmember José Huizar

Councilmember Huizar is a staunch advocate for the DTLA community, ushering in billions of dollars of investment to the area, creating initiatives like Bringing Back Broadway and DTLA Forward, and partnering with the County to create C-3, which builds off the success of homeless outreach Huizar has led to assist homeless individuals in Skid Row. He helped bring hundreds of acres of open space, new parks and park upgrades to park-poor areas of his district and is one of the City’s leading “Complete Streets” proponents, helping usher in Mobility 2035, DTLA Bikeshare and groundbreaking pedestrian and bike-friendly policies that are seen as the model for the entire City.