Pershing Square is one of the historic public spaces of Downtown Los Angeles. Having been transformed multiple times over last century, the park has lost its initial function as a green lung and meeting place for the inhabitants. With the increasing dominance of the car in the metropolis, the underground parking spaces from the 1980s raised up the square, isolating it from its urban context, leaving a walled, concrete and inaccessible space.

“Agence Ter & Team” (Agence Ter as leader of a team including ten Los Angeles firms) has developed a vision for Pershing Square Renew: a new paradigm of public space, integrating social and cultural life, nature and the urban fabric, based on a project of a “canvas”, which will be developed fully together with the inhabitants and stakeholders of Downtown.

The base principle of the design is to put the square back again on the same level as its surroundings: “radical flatness”. A meticulous redesign of the roof of the parking allows to create this continuous surface. The new Pershing Square will therefore be inclusive, democratic and accessible; returned to its historic flatness and continuous with the surrounding sidewalks, accessible from every direction and for everyone, without any stairs or walls.

Pershing Square will be full of shade again; through a native tree canopy covering diverse gardens and a vine-covered “smart canopy” covering kiosks for diverse uses. At the center a great lawn welcomes activities of all scales, from a picnic to a concert to a movie.

Sustainability is inherent to the proposal: water is managed and collected, plant species are drought tolerant, and the smart canopy generates power for the park. This canopy structure also includes a significant public artwork: Liquid Sky by light artist Leo Villareal.

The timeless design, elegant in its simplicity, installs a vibrant, open and dynamic heart in the center of Downtown Los Angeles.

  • Program / Project: LOS ANGELES / Pershing Square
  • Client: Pershing Square Renew
  • Project management: Agence Ter Landscape Urbanists (lead consultant), SALT Landscape architects, Rachel Allen Architecture, CARS, HR&A, Deborah Murphy, Kelly Shannon, Leo Villareal, Lighting Design Alliance, Pentagram, still-room, Fehr & Peers, KPFF, ME-engineers, C&E Ingénierie
  • Budget: $ 50M
  • Area: 2 ha
  • Date: 2016 - 2020
  • Location: Los Angeles, USA

LOS ANGELES / Pershing Square