By Josh Stephens.
Rarely does anything with a photovoltaic canopy, a “great lawn,” no fewer than 13 design collaborators, and an estimated $50 million budget qualify as simple. But, relative to its competitors, that’s exactly what the winning design in the Pershing Square Renew competition is.
If all goes according to plan, by 2020, Los Angeles’ Pershing Square will be flattened, scraped clean and reintroduced to a public that has long crossed the street to avoid it.
Located in the heart of downtown, Pershing Square has aspired to be one of the country’s great public spaces —and failed miserably. Twin forces of urban decay and atrocious, unwelcoming design have conspired to drive away would-be visitors for decades, leaving the square a notable exception in downtown’s steady revitalization. Nonprofit Pershing Square Renew was founded two years ago by developers and other stakeholders, including City Council Member Jose Huizar, who decided that enough was enough.
The organization sponsored a design competition that received submissions from a star-studded list of locally and internationally recognized design firms, each with expertise in architecture and landscape architecture. Out of 10 semifinalists, four finalists were chosen last month. Yesterday the team led by Paris-based Agence Ter was announced as the winner.
In many ways, the choice was obvious. Agence Ter’s design was the only one that met Pershing Square Renew’s guidelines.