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.