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Los Angeles to Redesign Its 'Worst Public Space'

Josh Stephens reports on the Pershing Square Renew Design Challenge, an effort to redo one of the "world's worst squares and plazas." The new Pershing Square may hearken back to the years before its misguided 1992 redesign.
December 22, 2015, 8am PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Hourann Bosci

For Next City, Josh Stephens discusses downtown L.A.'s unloved public square. "The same 1992 redesign that brought the follies and bold colors also built parapets, curb cuts and expanses of concrete that cordon off the square from the surrounding sidewalks and make it look more like a bunker than a park. It does not exactly encourage public assembly [...] Without the centuries-long history of pedestrian traffic that East Coast cities have, the square tries to inspire pedestrianism rather than respond to it."

After a lengthy process including public outreach and a design competition, those who want to resurrect Pershing Square are pushing forward. "Next week, three finalists will be chosen in the Pershing Square Renew Design Challenge [...] It may yet become the center that Los Angeles is so often accused of not having."

The new design may simply turn back the clock on 1992's garishness. "Pershing Square Renew’s design challenge therefore presents an exercise in restraint. Just as the current design is overproduced, the winning design may turn out to be the one that is the most understated."

"With a design team chosen by April, Pershing Square Renew hopes to secure funding to put the reopening of the square on track for 2019."

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Published on Thursday, December 10, 2015 in Next City
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