Councilmember Huizar, Pershing Square Renew & Department of Recreation and Parks applaud major step in moving forward with implementing Agence Ter’s ‘Radical Flatness’ design
The City of Los Angeles’ Board of Public Works voted Monday, May 22, 2017, to approve $1.5 million to fund critical feasibility analysis for Agence Ter’s winning Pershing Square Renew design to revitalize the City’s oldest open space in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles.
The $1.5 million contract for this initial phase will allow Paris-based Agence Ter and their Los Angeles contractor, Gruen Associates, to conduct a feasibility analysis for the implementation of the team’s concept for the square. Councilmember José Huizar, who spearheaded the effort to reinvent Pershing Square, the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks, and Pershing Square Renew – the public-private coalition of community stakeholders leading Pershing Square’s transformation – all applaud today’s news.
“Today’s vote represents a critical step forward in our effort to remake Pershing Square into a dynamic and accessible Downtown Los Angeles centerpiece for all Angelenos and visitors to enjoy,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “In the days and months ahead, this analysis will give us the details we need to meet our Pershing Square Renew goals.”
“We believe Agence Ter’s design is an elegantly simple solution to host the community’s expressed programs and activities of interest,” said Eduardo Santana, executive director of Pershing Square Renew. “We are excited by the city’s commitment to advance the project, which is sure to result in Pershing Square reclaiming its place as a prominent destination, and we’re grateful to Councilmember Huizar for his leadership.”
The City of Los Angeles is committed to fully funding all Pershing Square design costs, which will be determined by Agence Ter’s analysis. As part of his commitment to this project, Councilmember Huizar has worked with the Department of Recreation and Parks to commit $2.5 million in Quimby development interest fees to fund the initial design planning phase, including the $1.5 million approved Monday. Additionally, Huizar has worked to ensure $1 million in design funds have been committed by developers through their TFAR community benefit payments to the City. With the robust development in Downtown Los Angeles, additional TFAR and Quimby funds are expected to be available in the future.
“The Department of Recreation and Parks is eager to begin moving forward with this revitalization project that will breathe new life into Pershing Square, one of our oldest green spaces in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles,” said Michael Shull, General Manager, Department of Recreation and Parks. “The funding secured through Quimby development interest fees is a critical step that was necessary to start the process of reimagining this beautiful green oasis for the community and visitors to enjoy once the project is completed.”
Specific scope to be studied in this initial phase of analysis includes identifying the deficiencies in the current Pershing Square and garage (i.e. seismic conditions, fire-life safety components, etc.), determining the challenges faced in executing the design scheme, developing a strategy to address these challenges, a project design and construction budget, and a phasing plan to allow for implementation of the project.
Pershing Square Renew is the non-profit created to work with the City and Councilmember Huizar to drive the redesign of Pershing Square, the five-acre urban park in the heart of Los Angeles. Pershing Square Renew organized and ran the global design competition to reimagine the park, and is working to secure a mix of public and private funding for the park construction. The community-led project has been working with the City of Los Angeles to advance the redesign process, has launched fundraising efforts with the private sector, and is partnering with the City to support and enhance placemaking and programming activities at the current Pershing Square.
Agence Ter’s winning design seeks to bring all four sides of the park level to the street and allow for a pedestrian-friendly experience in and around the square. The park currently sits on top of a parking garage. The new design will require removing the top of the parking garage and lowering the roof so that the park can be level with the street.
A Los Angeles-based team of architects, landscape designers and planners recruited Paris-based Agence Ter as their lead in the design competition. The full team includes:
SALT Landscape Architects
Deborah Murphy Urban Design + Planning
Kelly Shannon - RUA, Landscape Urbanism
Community Arts Resources LA, Urban Programming
Rachel Allen Architecture
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
In the coming months, the Agence Ter team will prepare a report for the City that will highlight the various challenges and outline next steps. At that time, the City will execute the full design contract and begin the environmental process. Once the feasibility analysis has been completed, Councilmember Huizar and the City will host community meetings with Pershing Square Renew to solicit feedback and refine the design with the public’s input.
Located in the heart of L.A., 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, including design overhauls in the 1950s and early 1990s. The square covers an entire city block adjacent to LA’s Historic Core, Jewelry District, Bunker Hill and Civic Center, as well as a major transit station.
In September 2015, the Los Angeles City Council adopted Councilmember Huizar’s legislation to create a public-private partnership to reimagine Pershing Square and work with Pershing Square Renew, a non-profit partner, which came out of a task force created by Huizar in 2013.
Once the international design competition was announced, Pershing Square Renew received more than 80 letters of interests from design firms throughout the world and more than 50 submittals of qualifications. From that pool, 10 semifinalists were selected in October 2015, four finalists in December 2015, and one winner selected in May 2016.
The proposal from Paris-based Agence Ter drew the highest scores from the 1,355 members of the public who weighed in on the four finalists and was the unanimous first choice of the Pershing Square Renew jury.