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