French firm Agence Ter chosen to redesign Pershing Square

Eight months after the international competition was launched, team has been chosen to revitalize L.A.'s oldest park
By Cathaleen Chen and Katherine Clarke | May 12, 2016 09:50AM

Angelenos, get ready for a whole new Pershing Square.

French landscaping firm Agence Ter, one of the 50 companies who submitted to an international design competition to revamp Pershing Square, was crowned the winner Thursday morning by a nine-member jury. 

Agence Ter was one of four finalists being considered to redesign the park, including wHY and Civitas, a partnership between James Corner Field Operations and Frederick Fisher & Partners, and SWA | Morphosis. Pershing Square Renew, a nonprofit organization, organized the design competition.

Agence Ter’s design calls for an open, flat space without any of Pershing Square’s current walls and barriers. The plan is anchored by has three main elements: the “Great Lawn,” a canopy that would run the entire length of the park, and half a dozen themed gardens.

“By flattening the lifted surface and removing all of the walls, Pershing Square will reach out to the neighborhood again, establishing a real dialogue with the city,” Henri Bava, founder and director of Agence TER, said in a Pershing Square Renew statement.

SALT Landscape Architects, one of the lead partners working with Agence TER on the team’s design, is based in Los Angeles.

The DTLA park has long been the object of disdain among L.A. residents. Last September, City Council passed legislation that paved the way for a public-private partnership between the city and Pershing Square Renew to redevelop it. That effort was spearheaded by Councilmember José Huizar.

Pershing Square is arguably one of the most significant public spaces in L.A. but has been the subject of much debate over the last few decades. It was redesigned several times but never quite became part of the fabric of the city. Now that the Downtown Los Angeles renaissance is in full swing, Pershing Square Renew believes that developers will flock to fund the redevelopment of the park in a bid to push up their own property values.

“We think we’ll get buy in from the commercial and residential industries,” said real estate attorney Allan Abshez of Loeb & Loeb, who’s working with Pershing Square Renew. “Today, the park is a negative on the value of properties around the park. Most of the population wants to avoid it. So, we think owners will want to be a part of making this happen.”