Pershing Square Renew effort receives high interest from major design firms from Los Angeles, U.S. and worldwide
The international design competition to re-imagine Pershing Square announced by Councilmember José Huizar and Pershing Square Renew in early September got off to great start with 80 design firms from around the world submitting official Letters of Interests.
Councilmember Huizar – who spearheaded the creation of Pershing Square Renew to redesign the park – attributes the high figure to Pershing Square itself as a one-of-a-kind and storied plaza.
“With a nearly 150-year history as a public space in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, Pershing Square provides a unique design challenge that is clearly attractive to world-class architects and firms,” said Councilmember Huizar. “I am delighted to see this kind of response, which can only mean great things for our efforts to re-imagine and redesign this valued public space through our Pershing Square Renew initiative.”
The Letters of Interests responses indicate that design firms will submit Request For Qualification documents by Oct. 6, 2015. Later, on Oct. 27, 2015, 10 teams will be selected to participate in the Request for Proposals process. The teams will present their designs to the Pershing Square Renew jury and the general public in November. In December, four finalists will be selected. In February 2016, the finalists will present to the jury in Los Angeles, with a winner announced later that month.
About half of the firms who submitted Letters of Interests are from Los Angeles and the Southern California region. The others are from U.S. cities like San Francisco, New York, St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia, as well as world sites, such as Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom.
“It will be fascinating to see how each of this diverse collection of design firms interpret the community’s aspirations into design concepts,” said Eduardo Santana, Executive Director of Pershing Square Renew.
On Sept. 1st, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to support Councilmember José Huizar’s legislation to form a public/private partnership to overhaul and renew DTLA’s Pershing Square. The next day, that partnership – Pershing Square Renew – announced plans for an international design competition to re-envision the five-acre urban park in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles.
Located in the heart of Downtown L.A. – at the intersection of the Financial District, and the Historic Core -- Pershing Square is the City of Los Angeles’ oldest park, dedicated in 1866 by Mayor Cristobal Aguilar as “La Plaza Abaja” (the Lower Plaza). Pershing Square has been redesigned and renamed multiple times since its inception -- the major redesigns occurred in the 1950s and early 1990s.
The initiative to overhaul and improve Pershing Square can be credited to larger revitalization efforts all around Downtown, including Huizar’s “Bringing Back Broadway” effort, which started seven years ago, and led to a rash of revitalization along the corridor that has attracted the likes of Ace Hotel, Urban Outfitters, Acne Studios, Umami Burger and a revitalized Grand Central Market and Clifton’s Cafeteria.
In the summer of 2013, Councilmember Huizar announced a task force of 21 Downtown stakeholders to spearhead the effort to re-imagine Pershing Square to match the broad transformation of the Downtown area. The group included Downtown residents, design and architectural experts, business representatives and property owners, and was guided by representatives from governmental agencies like the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, LAPD and the City’s Planning Department.
In August 2014, the task force evolved into a newly created entity, Pershing Square Renew, which worked with the Department of Recreation and Parks, and Project for Public Spaces (out of New York), to conduct intensive community outreach and engagement around an effort to re-imagine the square. Meanwhile, MacFarlane Partners, the developer of a 99,000 square-foot site at 5th and Olive Streets overlooking Pershing Square, announced a $1 million pledge to seed Pershing Square Renew, and more developers plan to contribute to the effort. Additionally, the Department of Recreation and Parks announced that $1 million would go towards the park in the immediate future for infrastructure improvements and amenities. The department is a key partner for Pershing Square Renew and the local Council office.
“It’s inspiring to see so many interested firms wanting to take part in the revival of Pershing Square,” said Michael A. Shull, General Manager, Recreation and Parks. “This is a promising start to a beautiful vibrant urban corridor for Angelenos to enjoy.”