Creating Great Spaces

Three Public Spaces Transformed

Daniel Lobo via Flikr

Placemaking is a driving force in the redesign of Pershing Square. This vision of placemaking, a collaborative process between people and the places we share to shape our public realms, is helping us ensure a renewed Pershing Square will be the kind of place that feels like home to the millions of neighbors who live, work and play in L.A.

Successful and genuine public spaces combine both design and creative programming to attract a variety of people, for a variety of purposes, at all different times of the day and throughout the year. According to our partners and national placemaking experts, The Project for Public Spaces, a successful destination needs at least 10 places within it, with 10 different things to do in each place. This can include a cafe, a children’s play area, a place to read or have coffee, a place to sit, a place to meet friends and more.

As our design team is creating both the natural landscape and the placemaking strategies for the new Pershing Square, we’re looking at a few of the most successful public space transformations across the country to see what we can learn from how they created world-class public spaces.

Millennium Park

Chicago, IL

24.5-acre park redesigned in 2004 for $625 million

Wikimedia Commons

What was once, until 1997, a blighted urban wasteland, Millennium Park is now the most visited attraction in the Midwest and a world-renowned collection of urban green spaces, sculpture and architecture, with hundreds of year-round events and programs. Redeveloped through a public-private partnership with a nearly 50/50 split of funds from both the public sector and private investment, the park includes a state-of-the-art outdoor performance pavilion designed by Frank Gehry, a five-acre urban garden, outdoor galleries and a number of sculptures and architectural features that have become global destinations, a cycle center with storage and rentals, and a collection of indoor and outdoor gathering and performance spaces. The private sector contributes a large part of the funds to operate the park’s placemaking activitIes, which has secured its place as one of the top ten most visited attractions in the United States.

Wikimedia Commons

Fountain Square

Cincinnati, OH

2-acre park designed in 2005 for $62 million

The symbolic center of Cincinnati since 1871, Fountain Square was redesigned first in 1971, and then again in 2005 with a true placemaking focus and a vision to make it a recreational hub and gathering space for the metro area of 2 million residents. The redesign helped catalyze a downtown rebirth and spark development of the Fountain Square District, a restaurant and entertainment hub around the square, which hosts the largest Oktoberfest gathering in the world outside of Germany. The Cincinatti business community, which includes the headquarters of Macy’s, the regional headquarters of Delta Airlines, funded the redesign of the park and contributes over half of the operations and programming. A packed calendar of events offers dance, music, markets and has helped establish Fountain Square as the center of the city’s social and cultural life.

Wikipedia Commons

Klyde Warren Park

Dallas, TX

5.2-acre park designed in 2012 for $117 million

An urban green space constructed over a freeway and connecting Uptown and Downtown Dallas and the Arts District, Klyde Warren Park is a creative and complex feat of landscape design and structural engineering that has become a central gathering place for the more than 7 million metro residents of Dallas. Redeveloped through an even mix of public and private funds and operated by a private foundation, the space includes a children’s park and playground, reading room, great lawn, jogging trails, games area, and a restaurant and performance pavilion. It also connects with the downtown M-line street car and is a gateway to the Dallas Museum of Art, symphony, hotels and office and residential towers.

At Pershing Square, our team of artists, designers, architects and placemakers are planning a redesigned space that will be abundant with places for playing, resting, connecting and more. And we’re exploring how we can ensure sustainable levels of both public and private investment in the space, to help make it a top destination in the world-class city we call home.

Thank You + Project Update Overview

Thank you to all who joined us on Monday night for our holiday gathering and design update! We had a great turnout of community stakeholders to hear officials and members of the design team present the latest news from the design feasibility phase of the reimagination of Pershing Square, balancing the new design concept with engineering realities. We received some great feedback that will be very helpful moving forward.  

For those who were unable to attend the festivities earlier this week, the Agence Ter / Gruen Associates-led design team briefly summarized the updates to the design:

For the past five months, Agence Ter, together with Gruen Associates, have evolved the initial conceptual scheme based on the technical realities of the site and in partnership with the city.

The essential elements of the competition scheme – great lawn, pergola, gardens and promenade – remain consistent and so has our goal: to create a new green heart in downtown Los Angeles.

Opening the site means removing barriers and walls and altering the parking garage roof deck in order to return Pershing Square to the same height as the surrounding sidewalks. This allows sight-lines and a sense of openness with flexibility for program.

With technical investigation from our consultant team, we have come to better understand the parking garage itself, its limitations for structural loading as well as planting depth.

A key change has been the replacement of the pergola from Hill Street to Olive and the migration of the gardens closer to Hill Street. This shift both retains the original spatial conception of the competition while achieving clear design improvements.

The introduction of a step closer to Hill Street helps provide planting depth and allows the relocation of the grand gardens envisioned in the competition without significant incursion into parking below. We will begin to develop these gardens and their adjacency to a planted Promenade along Hill Street forming a natural canopy for all-day shade.

Between the natural and the architectural canopies, the great lawn provides the green heart of the city.

One of the most notable features of the winning proposal was an approach that brings the park to street level, creating vistas that unifies the park with the sidewalks, streetscape and retail that border it. While the current-day park sits elevated atop a parking garage, with stairs and ramps linking it to the street around parking garage entrances, the new design lowers the top level of the garage to street level, creating views and paths from Fifth Street to Sixth Street and from Olive to Hill.

Other features include a reflecting pool on the west side of the park that mirrors the stately Biltmore Hotel; an iconic “smart canopy” designed by artist Leo Villareal lights up at night and provides shade during the day; water cycling and alternative energy systems; a welcoming balance between light and shade; programmable, flexible space; and landscaping that creates a welcoming ecology with gardens, grasses and lawns.  

The Concept and Feasibility phase will be completed in Spring of 2018, at which time we will have another comprehensive update to share with you.

Here is what leaders of our team had to say at this important milestone event:

“As the design team, Agence Ter, executes its detailed feasibility design analysis, a picture is starting to emerge about what’s possible at Pershing Square, and it is a conceptual design that honors the original, while introducing us all to ‘Radical Openness’.  In the coming months, we will continue to focus in on this essential first phase of design so we can work toward a final design concept that will allow us to begin transforming this important and historic plaza into a vibrant, open and accessible green space that serves the DTLA community and all Angelenos.” — Councilmember Jose Huizar, Council District 14, City of LA

“The Department of Recreation and Parks is excited about the radical openness design concept—it represents our vision of what a vibrant and beautiful urban corridor in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles should encompass. We look forward to working with Agence Ter and Gruen Associates as this inspiring project continues to progress.” — Mike Shull, General Manager, Dept. of Recreation and Parks

“We think this project will reinforce the revitalization of downtown and we’re glad this it is now maturing through work with stakeholders, with the city and with the public. At Agence Ter, we are always working with strong design principles but with a flexibility that allows us to integrate the different needs and wishes of constituents – This dialogue enriches the project and is the basis for true site specificity.” — Henri Bava, Lead Designer, Principal and Founder, Agence Ter

“Pershing Square occupies a pivotal role as a public gathering spot for Los Angeles. Especially in light of the upcoming Olympics, it needs this re-visioning to allow it to fulfill this role and be a plaza that serves the needs of the residents of the city.” — Debra Gerod, Gruen Associates

“Pershing Square is on track to taking back its title as one of the world’s great public spaces. As we move towards a design consensus, be on the lookout for innovative activations of the space that re-energize the square even as its physical transformation gets underway.” — Eduardo Santana, Pershing Square Renew

What’s going on with the Pershing Square redesign?

What’s going on with the Pershing Square redesign?

Over the past year, a world-class group of urbanists have been working steadily and creatively toward the groundbreaking of a reimagined Pershing Square. Led by L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar, the City’s Recreation and Parks and Bureau of Engineering departments, Agence Ter design lead Henri Bava and project manager Annelies Ne Nijs, and Pershing Square Renew, the partners have refined and evolved the winning proposal of the global design competition and will share an update with the public on Monday, Dec. 4.

Few are better equipped to talk about what’s been going on behind the scenes than two of the women managing this complex and historic project. Debra Gerod, partner at Gruen Associates, has built a career leading significant civic and cultural projects in California, and was brought in this year by the design team to shepherd the initiative to completion. Lauren Hamer is an accomplished landscape architect who represents Paris-based Agence Ter in L.A. We met up for coffee on the terrace at Pitchoun on Olive Street, across the street from Pershing Square, and talked about its present and future.

GIF image: Lauren Hamer and Debra Gerod talk about Pershing Square, public space, and design]

Lauren and Debra talk placemaking and public space

How did you get involved in the Pershing Square Renew project?

Lauren: I have been involved since the design competition phase and relly enjoyed the design process with Agence Ter and the L.A. partners. What I valued most is the way the team moved really carefully, quietly, gently, in a very deliberate way. The openness to ideas and a kind of lack of hierarchy—from architects, designers, local homeless activists – I found it really striking. So when Agence Ter was looking for somebody on the ground in L.A. who understood the team, who really understood their design process, I guess I seemed like a good person to take that on, and I jumped at the opportunity.

Debra: The real story? I overheard a phone message being taken for my business partner several months ago, and the struggle over this French name. It was Annelies at Agence Ter, and she was told by the City it’d be a good idea to have someone with experience managing big complex public projects in L.A., which quite frankly is me. It’s been my primary focus and my practice for 29 years. So I swooped in. My goal is to get the project done, working collaboratively so everyone feels like a partner, while also keeping the strength of the design.

And for us at Gruen, because we weren’t part of the design competition, it’s really important that we not step on anyone’s toes, especially since everyone is now under contract to us, and we’re contracting with the City. We’re focusing on how we help marshal the team forward and make this project successful.

It’s been over a year since the announcement of the winning design. Is the project going as planned?

Debra: While every project is different, this is the most critical time in the project for sure, when you either garner support or fizzle away. Projects have a certain need for inertia, and there’s been a healthy amount of post-competition project time, but when that starts to wane, it can be a problem. This is a time when we need everyone to rally around something and gather momentum. I almost never worry about budget or schedule – I mean, it’s a worry, but it’s something you can deal with in specific ways: you do more, you do less, you do things a little differently to take care of issues. But it’s really the general support for the project through this phase, once you start to lose that, it becomes really difficult to push a project forward. That’s what I’m focused on.

How do you move through this critical phase?

Debra: The hump is getting through the conceptual design phase, getting people to rally around an idea. We don’t need to figure out every question, but we do need a basic way forward, then we have a lot of design work left to go. It’s not that whatever we decide today will live forever, that’s not the case. People get more worried about that than they need to. It’s the basics. And the process right now is about vetting the concept to make sure it all works—the specifics on how can we modify the parking structure, where is the perfect balance point that allows this to actually be implemented, that won’t put the garage out of commission.

What do you care about most in designing a public space?

Lauren: I love that landscape architecture is a connection between the social and natural world, and my focus in designing spaces is on simplicity of design, one hundred percent. So I really liked that a European firm was doing something extremely simple with Pershing Square. When I was studying architectural history and theory, I stumbled onto some books by Gunther Vogt and a bunch of Swiss landscape architects, specifically this book called “Distance and Engagement: Walking, Thinking and Making Landscapes,” and I read it and thought, that’s it. This is what I want to do. I worked in Switzerland and Germany and fell in love with the European landscape style. In the U.S., you see a lot of geometry and swoops and curves and shapes and patterns. But in general, I think design should be more like good security: if you don’t see it, it’s doing its job. It’s allowing you to just live your life, as a clean stage.

What excites you the most about the new vision of Pershing Square?

Debra: I was in the library tower looking at the park recently. From above, you really see how paved it is. I’m so excited about taking it back to vegetated green space—there’s just not enough green space right now. The more people live downtown, the more that’s clearly apparent. And that’s the best thing about a park.

Where are your favorite green spaces in L.A.?

Lauren: I live by Echo Park Lake and I go there a lot and visit with everyone’s dogs, since I don’t have my own. It’s a really successful space—open at night, it’s safe, a great amount of shade, it holds a ton of events and festivals, it’s a place for families to gather and really use the green space. A lot of day-to-day community activity. It’s a really successful place in L.A.

Debra: I live in Eagle Rock, and I’m drawn to green spaces where I can walk my dog, Sammy, and take him off-leash. We go to Debs Park, where he likes to swim in that little pond, and Rosie’s Beach in Belmont Shore, absolutely the best—a big white beach.

What do you think are the most successful public spaces in the world right now?

Lauren: I lived in Berlin for years, and the Germans know how to use a park. Europeans in general—they set up shop all day and all night. Have your birthday party there, do everything there. In Berlin, I love Templehof, Hasenheide, Tiergarten, Monbijouxpark. When I’m there, everyone is gathering in the parks, drinking and eating, being together. Also, you can be totally alone, dance, whatever you want, no one will bother you. There’s not really a comparison in the U.S. I come back and I’m like, y’all don’t know what they have over there, parks and parks and parks.

Debra: I also love Tuileries in Paris and Tiergarten in Berlin. They’re both so special. And I’m a native Chicagoan, and the parks in that city really gave me an early education about how public spaces are used successfully. What Chicago does really well, with the parks along the lakefront and with Millennium Park, is make art interactive and part of the public experience, and allow for concerts, events, open and controlled in a way that doesn’t feel programmed. It’s a field of play.

[Photograph of Tiergarten Park in Berlin]

Tiergarten Park in Berlin. Photo: Pierre Adenis

What can the public do to be supportive of this phase?

As with every step of the design process so far, the public’s role in contributing ideas and feedback is welcomed and crucial! We’re excited to share the latest updates and new renderings at our next public event on Dec. 4, so we invite all who care about Pershing Square and/or are curious to join us there and tell us what you think.

To learn more and see new renderings as the design of the future Pershing Square evolves, join us at the next public event on Dec. 4. RSVP and details here.

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

Economy

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.

Food

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 eve@pershingsquarenew.com

Major Progress for Pershing Square

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT

Councilmember Huizar: Rick Coca (213) 200-9974 rick.coca@lacity.org
Pershing Square Renew: Marie Condron (213) 925-9605 mlcondron@gmail.com
Recreation & Parks Dept.: Rose Watson rose.watson@lacity.org

$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.

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