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Agence Ter picked to redesign Pershing Square

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The announcement Thursday followed an eight-month competition that began with 80 design teams and ultimately narrowed to four finalists.

An international design team led by the Paris-based Agence Ter has been selected to redesign the five-acre Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles.

The announcement Thursday followed an eight-month competition that began with 80 design teams and ultimately narrowed to four finalists.

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.

“Thank you very much for your support and confidence. We will make sure that Pershing Square will become, once again, the dynamic heart of Los Angeles,” said Henri Bava, founder and director of Agence Ter, speaking at the press conference Thursday.

One of the most notable elements of Agence Ter’s park-plaza hybrid design is its “radical flatness,” according to a statement from the office of City Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes the square and who has helped to spearhead its revitalization.

The plaza is built over a parking garage and sits above street level. The new design will bring it back to the ground, lowering the top level of the parking structure, opening up the view and creating paths for pedestrians.

“By radically flattening the lifted surface, it will reach out to the neighborhood again, establishing a real dialogue with the city,” Bava said in a prepared statement.

The design also includes a reflecting pool, a “smart canopy” that will light up at night and provide shade during the day, water cycling, alternative energy systems, and landscaping that includes gardens, grasses and lawns.

“Our goal was to get rid of the trendy design approaches and propose a timeless design, able to grow with a changing community and city,” Bava said.

The three other finalists competing for the redesign project included SWA and Morphosis, both based in downtown L.A.; James Corner Field Operations, which designed Manhattan’s High Line and Tongva Park in Santa Monica; and wHY and Civitas, a team based in Culver City.

The winning design “spoke to people across different demographics and really exemplified what we’re trying to do here in downtown L.A.,” Huizar said.

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

The park could see an unveiling in 2019, but for the next seven or eight months, the proposal will go through a refinement process and the city will seek public input, Huizar said.

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.

The full design team includes:

  • SALT Landscape Architects
  • 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

LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne was at the announcement and joins the show to discuss the winner.

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