Restore, Don’t Redesign, Pershing Square

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

pershingsquarepostcard

Today the L.A. City Council announced an international competition to redesign Pershing Square located in the heart of downtown. The existing design by AIA Gold Medal winner Ricardo Legorreta, which dates from 1994, has been widely hated for over two decades. Here’s a picture I took of it a couple years ago:

Pershing Square Today

The purple pylons are supposed to represent the San Gabriel Mountains, the orange spheres are symbols of the importance of the citrus industry to the city’s history, and the geometric concrete pathways that break up the lawn are some Deeply Important postmodern design element that us proles have failed to appreciate over the years.

But it looks like all of that will soon be history, so good riddance to bad rubbish, I sez. However, one should never underestimate the ability of our architectural betters to foist something even more heinous on us. When it comes to turning bad into worse, their creativity knows no bounds. When a committee was formed two years ago to investigate the feasibility of a new park, the design firm Gensler made the following pitch (skip to 2:56 to see their final results):

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/63167977]

Dig the use of advanced computational methods that have been leveraged to create an integrative, sustainable design! Who cares the final result looks like a chaotic midsummer rave, complete with techno soundtrack? I’m sure the wireframe videogame terrain would win them a bunch of awards presented by people who wear thick-framed glasses and bowties.

Instead of choosing a trendy design that’ll only further alienate the public and require yet another remodel in 20 years, why not restore it to its former glory?

restoreparkinson1910

Parkinson1910in1931 colorized

biltmorepershingsquare1942

John Parkinson’s 1910 design (the same architect who designed Union Station, City Hall, Bullock’s Wilshire, and the Coliseum) might not have had the advantages of CAD or a flashy presentation video, and modifications will be needed to take the underground parking into account, but it provides a pleasant pedestrian experience with multiple spaces for various activities that are elegantly buffered from one another. When a good design is staring you right in the face, why reinvent the wheel?

A group and petition have formed to reinstitute Parkinson’s park. I have little hope that city officials will consider it seriously, but it would be nice to be wrong. Whatever happens, it’ll be interesting to see how this story develops.

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About Blowhard, Esq.

Amateur, dilettante, wannabe.
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6 Responses to Restore, Don’t Redesign, Pershing Square

  1. JV says:

    I wonder how much of the design decisions on public places have to do with crowd control. However you feel about the current design, you can’t say it doesn’t discourage homeless people from setting up camp and/or drug deals from occurring. Sad but probably true.

    Like

  2. agnostic says:

    “OK you guys, so I’m thinking — Coachella — On a smaller scale — In downtown LA. There. I said it.”

    “Oh my gosh, LOVE — LOVE.”

    “It’s great.”

    “It’s gonna be great.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. agnostic says:

    One great big Apple Store-themed open-air venue for attention whores.

    It’s the exact opposite of where the focus should be at a park — not on ME, but the others around me and my surroundings. But, hey, California…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. agnostic says:

    Nice to see brick pavers in the pictures from the ’40s. Far more appealing than the Lego-land hardscape of the 21st century.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Steve Sailer says:

    Developer Rick Caruso’s fairly popular Americana shopping mall in Glendale, CA looks like a small city in upstate New York in 1910. I don’t think it has been as hugely successful as his Grove mall next to Farmer’s Market, which is pseudo-Italian hill town-looking, but it’s almost as good of a conception.

    Liked by 1 person

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