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See the Design Proposal to Make Pershing Square a Hilly Green Space

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Design firms wHY and Citivas want to bring some lost topography back to Downtown

On Thursday, the four finalists in a challenge to redesign Downtown Los Angeles's Pershing Square revealed their final presentations on how they'd makeover the city's most unsatisfying park space. Given that the presentations are all highly detailed and come with some pretty sleek-looking videos, we're going to take a look at each individually.

"The Wildcard"

This intriguing design was submitted by firms wHY and Civitas. LA-based wHy recently created a framework for Chicago's Jackson Park (site of the 1893 Columbian Exposition). Denver firm Civitas, meanwhile, has experience with efforts to redesign LA landmarks that have been inexplicably covered over with concrete—it was one of three landscape architecture firms that consulted on the LA River Revitalization Master Plan before the river's future was quietly placed into the hands of Frank Gehry.

As their video presentation shows, this redesign would give Pershing Square 133 percent more shade, 60 percent more green space, and 125 percent more seating. All of those numbers sound great, but the design's most significant feature is the new topography it would bring to the square. As is noted in the video, Downtown Los Angeles was once a very hilly area, but much of the city center was flattened to ease traffic and facilitate development. To pay tribute to some of this lost terrain, wHY and Civitas propose raising parts of Pershing Square to create a series of small hills that hide parking garage entrances and exits, while at the same time creating a unique and visually intriguing landscape.

The video presentation for this redesign has the added bonus of featuring a number of influential Downtown community members, including business leaders, college professors, and community organizers. It's not a bad strategy for impressing the design jury, which is largely made up of people who fit at least one of those descriptions.

Pershing Square

532 S. Olive St., Los Angeles, CA