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USC Architecture professor and team propose new look for Pershing Square

Architecture critic calls the idea to revitalize the troubled park ‘elegantly simple’

by USC Architecture staff
Pershing Square Renewal
The proposal introduces new swaths of grass and shaded areas. (Image/Agence Ter and SALT Landscape Architects)

USC School of Architecture Professor Kelly Shannon is part of a team awarded first place in a competition to remake the five-acre park Pershing Square in the center of downtown Los Angeles.

Shannon worked for a team under the umbrella of French landscape architecture firm Agence Ter and the Los Angeles firm SALT Landscape Architects.

Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne has called the winning proposal “elegantly simple” and an outright apology for what he refers to as “the visual clutter of present-day Pershing Square, which remains a conspicuous dead space in an otherwise revived and money-soaked downtown.”

The proposal, which the team describes as “radical flatness,” introduces new swaths of grass and shaded areas, including a sweeping, block-long sun shade that runs the length of park along the Hill Street side. The Agence Ter team beat out three finalists with its strategy for re-greening and re-integrating one of L.A.’s oldest parks, bringing it back into the public realm and closer to how it used to be before all the trees were ripped out and replaced with concrete.

Pershing Square Renew

A view of movie night in the park (Image/Agence Ter and Team)

“There is a directness to the team’s proposal — even a minimalism — that clearly appealed to the nine-member competition jury,” Hawthorne wrote.

The jury included Michael Woo, dean of architecture at California Polytechnic State University and former city council member; Janet Marie Smith, a Los Angeles Dodgers executive and architect by training; and Janet Rosenberg, a landscape architect from Toronto.

If all goes well with a combination of public and private funding for the facelift, a new park could be finished in 2019.

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