Pershing Square, as you know, is a Franken-park of public space, elevated above a parking garage and segmented by walls, which are always a great way to celebrate the outdoors.
It's an open-air, concrete urinal that could have been designed during an M.C. Escher nightmare. Famed L.A. observer Mike Davis said the park exemplified L.A.'s controlling, security-minded urban planning and noted that its benches were “bum-proof.” Established in 1866, it's said to be the city's oldest park. It is also the unfriendliest park around.
The office of City Councilman Jose Huizar did what was necessary: It hosted a serious design competition, with a goal of a $50 million revamp, to find this parcel next to the Millennium Biltmore Hotel a new look.
The winning design, announced today, is a conservative vision of Pershing Square as a … park. Just a park. Fine by us. (See photos, below.) Henri Bava, director of winning design firm Agence Ter and Team of Paris, described the look as “radical flatness.”
The design proposes to bring the park back down to street level and landscape the parcel with grass.
“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 — one that would allow Pershing Square, the city’s oldest park, to reclaim its place as the true heart of downtown Los Angeles. Today, we are one important step closer to making that happen,” Huizar said.
The design, which includes a reflecting pool and a “smart canopy” of lights at night, would create views from Fifth to Sixth streets and from Olive to Hill streets.
Last year the City Council approved Huizar's vision to establish a public-private partnership that would work with Pershing Square Renew to redevelop the space.
The councilman's goal is to raise at least $50 million, including cash from private donors, to remake the park using Agence Ter and Team's design.
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.