LA’s Pershing Square Redesign goes to International Agence Ter Team featuring Los Angeles Architect Rachel Allen

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LA's Pershing Square Redesign goes to International Agence Ter Team featuring Los Angeles Architect Rachel Allen
Looking towards the flattened Pershing Square from the metro exit at the crossing of 5th and Hill Streets

Following an eight-month competition that began with 80 design teams and ultimately narrowed to four finalists, on Thursday, May 12, 2016, Pershing Square Renew announced that an international design team led by Paris-based landscape architecture firm Agence Ter had been selected to redesign the landmark Pershing Square. Rachel Allen, principal and owner of Rachel Allen Architecture and the only California-registered architect on the team, will develop the architectural elements of the plan.

LA's Pershing Square Redesign goes to International Agence Ter Team featuring Los Angeles Architect Rachel Allen
© Agence Ter and Team

Promising that Pershing Square will once again become the dynamic heart of downtown Los Angeles, “radical flatness” may be the most notable element of Agence Ter’s winning proposal for the park-plaza hybrid design. Bounded by Olive, Hill, 5th and 6th Streets, the five-acre plaza is currently built over a parking garage and sits above street level.

LA's Pershing Square Redesign goes to International Agence Ter Team featuring Los Angeles Architect Rachel Allen
© Agence Ter and Team

The new design will bring it back to the ground, lowering the top level of the parking structure, opening up the view, creating access for pedestrians and continuity with the life of the street. The proposal redeems the square from the unfortunate 1951 scheme that constructed walls and parking-lot access ramps, severing the park from the city on all four sides. “By radically flattening the lifted surface, it will reach out to the neighborhood again, establishing a real dialogue with the city,” said Agence Ter founder Henri Bava.

LA's Pershing Square Redesign goes to International Agence Ter Team featuring Los Angeles Architect Rachel Allen
At night, an iconic light artwork in motion – Liquid Sky – by Leo Villareal will transform the pergola into a glowing sculpture / © Agence Ter and Team

The competition finalists included James Corner Field Operations with Frederick Fisher and Partners, SWA | Morphosis, and wHY + Civitas. Agence Ter’s proposal drew the highest scores from more than 1,300 members of the public who weighed in on finalists, according to the city. Among the jury who had the final say, the choice was unanimous.

In addition to Agence Ter, the full design team includes:

  • SALT Landscape Architects / Allen Compton
  • Deborah Murphy Urban Design + Planning
  • Kelly Shannon – RUA, Landscape Urbanism
  • Community Arts Resources LA, Urban Programming
  • Rachel Allen Architecture
  • Pentagram, Branding
  • Still Room, Wayfinding and Graphic Design
  • Leo Villareal, Light Artist
  • Fehr & Peers, Transportation Consultants
  • KPFF, Structural / Civil Engineers
  • M-E Engineering, Mechanical / Electrical / Plumbing Engineers
  • Lighting Design Alliance, Architectural Lighting Design

The Revitalization of DTLA and Pershing Square Renew
Led by Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar, downtown Los Angeles has undergone quite the revitalization in the past few years, and it’s not slowing down. Civic revitalization projects driving this resurgence include the L.A. Streetcar, revitalization of the Historic Broadway corridor, and sustainable land development and place-making projects such as the L.A. River corridor At the heart and center of this exciting revitalization, Pershing Square — the City of Los Angeles’ oldest public space — had been left behind. Tasked with transforming the square into a world-class public space, Pershing Square Renew is a public-private, non-profit collaboration between government, community, and business leaders in Downtown L.A. Executive Director Eduardo Santana heads the project with MacFarlane Partners CEO Victor MacFarlane.

While the aim of the competition was to generate designs that would cost in the neighborhood of $50 million, the final price tag could vary, said Councilman Jose Huizar.

During the next seven or eight months, the proposal will go through a refinement process and the city will seek public input. So far, the city has $1 million banked for the project and another $250,000 in commitments. In the coming weeks, the city plans to announce other sources of revenue, according to Huizar.

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