The Makeover Continues For Downtown LA

Last week I was on my way to drop off my son at school and we were listening to NPR. What better way than to start his day off with a bit of Domestic and International news (sorry Nicholas). Regardless, since his attention span is that of a typical 7 year old I figure talk radio might be a bit more entertaining. That’s a total lie. It’s strictly for mommy’s own amusement, but enough about me. I overheard a brief interview as we were parking about LA’s Pershing Square, and since I was unable to catch much of the interview I decided to read more about the project this week.

Pershing Square is Downtown Los Angeles’ most historic and centrally located public space. Almost 150 years ago, our city’s founders dedicated it as “a public space forever” and called it La Plaza Abaja (the lower plaza). Since that time, it has undergone several renovations and has been renamed on three occasions. It has literally evolved with the rise, fall and revitalization of Downtown — in other words, it boasts a legacy of renewal.

The area underwent its most recent renovation in 1993. At that time, the design was considered cutting edge and an improvement given the conditions of the surrounding community. Today, the fortress-like design blocks sight lines, feels unwelcoming and unsafe and does not allow for flexible programming needs. The layout inhibits innovative uses.



About a year ago, a new nonprofit, Pershing Square Renew, was created to help finally do something about Downtown’s concrete-y and much-hated Pershing Square. Already, there’s been some progress at the park in the form of two new playgrounds, but all the major changes have yet to be decided. But today the LA City Council voted to let Pershing Square Renew launch an international design contest to reimagine the space—which has been around since the 1860s with several makeovers over the years—and to oversee project management and fundraising for the endeavor, according to a release from Councilmember Jose Huizar, who reps the area and helped create PSR.

City Officials and neighboring residents can all agree that this redesign can only add value to the City of Angels. It is rumored that the contest winners will be announced as early as February 2016, and set to be completed by 2020.


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