Pershing Square, one of the oldest parks in the city of Los Angeles, is set to undergo a revitalization intended to redefine and renew the iconic landmark, Councilman Kevin de León announced Monday.
During a groundbreaking at the park, de León said the project will “breathe life into the heart of downtown Los Angeles.” Pershing Square, originally dedicated in 1866 by Mayor Cristobal Aguilar, has long been a cherished open space for Angelenos and visitors.
Throughout the years, the park has seen various changes, including the construction of a parking garage beneath it in the 1950s, making it “progressively less accessible to pedestrians,” according to de León’s office.
The revitalization offers several key project changes that will transform the park space, which is almost completely cemented, into an open and flat green area.
In 2012, the city initiated a design competition to reimagine Pershing Square. The winning design, “Radical Flatness” by French Architecture firm Agence Ter, envisions removing barriers and walls, opening up the park to the public and restoring lush greenery to the once-concrete plaza.
To execute this plan, the city enlisted Gruen Architects, with Agence Ter as their sub-consultant, to break the project into phases, ensuring its feasibility and cost-effectiveness.
Phase 1A, with a total project cost of $21,665,535, focuses on Olive Street’s perimeter enhancements.
It includes the demolition of the existing café structure, the revitalization of park edge landscaping, the addition of a new street-level entry plaza, and the installation of two new glass elevators and stairs for improved accessibility and security.
Phase 1A is set to be completed in the fall of 2024 after an 18-month construction period.
“I’ve always been a champion for open space — particularly in our urban communities,” de León said.
When the councilman served on the State Assembly and State Senate between 2006 and 2010, and 2010 to 2014, respectively, he introduced AB 31 and SB 5, which created more new parks for California.
Now in collaboration with the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks, he said they will deliver 18 new playgrounds and construct two new parks in his 14th District. De León aims to ensure “every child has access to green space.”
Phase 1B, improvements on Fifth and Sixth streets, and Phase 2, which includes construction on the Hill Street esplanade and wall removal, are fully designed and ready for construction upon completion of Phase 1A. Phase 1B is estimated at $5 million, with Phase 2 estimated at $16.5 million.
Phase 3, involving the central portion of the park, awaits design and funding, according to de León’s office.