Finalists named for Pershing Square makeover

pershing-square-finalists.jpgOne of the visions of what Pershing Square could be.

The downtown civic push to (re)reinvent Pershing Square took a step forward today with the naming of four final design concepts from which the actual plan will be chosen next year. All four of the design teams would replace the forbidding hardscape of today's Pershing Square — last tinkered with in the 1990s mostly to prevent homeless people from congregating — with an open, inviting commons that would give residents of downtown a landscaped, outdoor community gathering spot. Many if not all of the contenders would lower the entryways to the park closer to street level. The proposals include greenspace, playgrounds, shade trees, water features and a pavilion for hanging out and performances.

I talked about Pershing Square's history and the design proposals on today's LA Observed segment during "All Things Considered" on KCRW.

The finalists include the designers behind Manhattan's High Line and Santa Monica's new Tongva Park. "The world-class firms selected by our jury represent a huge range,” said Eduardo Santana, the executive director of Pershing Square Renew, in a release. “They include global stars and local unknowns." Said Janet Marie Smith, the Dodgers executive who chairs the design competition jury: "This jury was. In the end, there was a strong consensus that these four competitors were going to take Pershing Square — the heart of Downtown LA — in exciting directions we hadn’t anticipated.”

From the release:

The four finalists are:

The “Local Force”: SWA with Morphosis. Both of these firms are based in Downtown LA and well represented throughout Southern California, as well as nationally and internationally. See their 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 proposal.

The “Globetrotters”: Agence TER with SALT Landscape Architects. Paris-based Agence TER’s landscapes dot Europe and have reached the Middle East and French Guyana. See their 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 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 1990’s. In September of this year, 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 will develop their proposals over the first quarter of 2016, leading to another round of jury interviews and a public presentation in March. The final selection process will invite public comment on each of the proposals and will weigh public opinion in the final decision.

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

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Downtown stories on LA Observed:
Ed Ruscha and Kent Twitchell
Fallen tree
The Grand (Parcel Q)
Angeleno Wine Company
Soon-Shiong moving LA Times home to El Segundo
March For Our Lives in DTLA
Music Center Plaza
Caravan Books closed