Blowhard, Esq. writes:
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:
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?
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.
- A timeline of Pershing Square through the years.
- Kevin Klinkenberg on what makes a good park, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
- Stephen Gee’s coffee table bio of John Parkinson is essential. Funny that the only retrospective of Parkinson’s work so far was produced by an amateur.
- Paleo Retiree and I check out the new 9/11 Memorial.