Posts tagged with "James Corner Field Operations":

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James Corner Field Operations tapped to activate Georgetown canal network in Washington, D.C.

Landscape architecture and urban design studio James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) has been chosen to develop a master plan for revisioning the canal network of Georgetown, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C. JCFO has an established pedigree when it comes to re-imagining infrastructure. The firm worked on New York's much acclaimed High Line and is currently planning a similar ten-mile scheme in Miami called the Underline. The name for this project is yet to be announced, but the "The Waterline" wouldn't be a bad guess given JCFO's record. Covering one mile of the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park (C&O Canal NHP), JCFO will work with the National Park Service (NPS), Georgetown Heritage, the D.C. Office of Planning, and the local community to activate underused pedestrian paths through the site and tap into the canal network's forgotten historical heritage. In the coming year, Georgetown Heritage and the NPS will procure community info on how to maximize the site's assets which include: stone structures dating back to the 1830s, locks, towpaths, plazas, and street crossings. These features will aid the educational and recreational aspirations that stakeholders have for the site as well as contribute to the area's aesthetic appeal. The chronology of events for the project is as follows:
  • Conditions Assessment: Documenting and analyzing the current state of the physical structures of the canal, as well as how people currently use the park.
  • Historic Preservation: Inventorying and developing a plan to preserve the historic elements of the canal.
  • Safety & Accessibility: Recommendations to improve access to the canal and make it a safer, more comfortable place to be through interventions such as lighting, ramps, signage, and seating.
    • Recreation Opportunities: In addition to the paddling dock to be built in Spring 2018, the Master Plan will create opportunities and inviting spaces for all kinds of recreation; from active recreation like cycling and kayaking, to passive recreation like bird watching or gongoozling (watching activity on a canal).
  • Transformative Designs: There are five nodes/plazas within this one-mile stretch of canal that are currently underused or not used at all. The Master Plan will explore concepts for transformative designs for these spaces:
    • Zero Mile Marker/Tide Lock
    • Lock 1
    • Mule Yard
    • Fish Market Square
    • Aqueduct Overlook
  • Programmatic Plans: In order to bring life and activity back to the canal, the Master Plan will include plans for interpretation, education, and cultural programming.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Washington, D.C., and the Georgetown community to create a transformative public space that blends historic architecture with rich landscapes to create a world-class and unique destination in the heart of the neighborhood,” said James Corner, founder and director of JCFO in a press release. “The Georgetown section of the C&O Canal NHP should be a landmark park for everyone, a lively center for social gatherings, a continuous link for recreation and contemplation, a connector of neighborhoods and networks and a model for urban livability and human health and wellbeing.” “The James Corner Field Operations team brings exceptional ingenuity, boundless energy and extensive experience partnering with cities, parks, and community groups to create stunning, lively spaces that reflect each site’s distinct character and maximize its potential to engage people of all ages and cultures,” said Alison Greenberg, executive director of Georgetown Heritage. Also working alongside JCFO in the design and planning process is: MakeDC, Robert Silman Associates, ETM Associates, and Dharam Consulting. These firms will help to develop the Georgetown Canal Plan, which re-envisions this popular section of the canal.
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James Corner Field Operations and nARCHITECTS team up to revamp 10-acre park in the heart of Cleveland

Cleveland’s downtown is more welcoming thanks to a civic space replacing a formerly traffic-choked intersection. The Public Square is a recently completed 10-acre park designed by James Corner Field Operations (JCFO). The $50-million project also includes a small cafe designed by New York–based nARCHITECTS with local architects Westlake Reed Leskosky. Initiated by nonprofit organization The Group Plan Commission, the Public Square is a major part of larger mission to connect Cleveland’s public spaces to Lake Erie.

The design joins four smaller traffic islands situated between the wide lanes of Superior Avenue and Ontario Street in the heart of the city. As part of making the space more pedestrian friendly, Ontario Street was shut down in that section, and Superior Avenue, which still bifurcates the area, was altered and restricted to public transportation. A butterfly-shaped path encircles the site and is flanked by curving park benches designed by JCFO. Within the paths, small hills produce an outdoor amphitheater and provide a lookout over the surrounding traffic.

The Café Pavilion, the final piece of the square, includes a large kitchen and a modest interior dining space. A 60-foot glass facade looks out onto the Public Square and a large fountain. A curated art wall covers the opposite facade, while triangulated metal panels wrap much of the rest of the exterior. Side windows, impressed into the form of the building, allow for views from the street through the dining area and onto the square. The only other structure in the square is the 125-foot Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument, dedicated to those who fought in the Civil War. Built in 1894, the large monument once occupied one of the quads divided by traffic, but it is now integrated into the corner of the Public Square. 

By adding a more inviting green space into the center of the city, the designers are taking part in an effort to revitalize Cleveland’s downtown. Before the park even opened, programs and events were already planned for the square, including hosting the performance season of the Cleveland Orchestra. A temporary outdoor installation by Milan-based Cracked Art was also commissioned by LAND Studio, the nonprofit landscape and public art agency that managed the project. The National Endowment of the Arts awarded arts organization Cuyahoga Arts and Culture a $50,000 matching grant for additional arts programming for the Public Square.

Like many recently built civic spaces across the country, the public–private partnership behind Public Square raised both the public and private funds for the needed $50 million for the project. Similar projects, such as Chicago’s Millennium Park and Houston’s Discovery Green, though both larger than the Public Square, have been wildly popular, much to the benefit of the surrounding cities. Others point to the success of JCFO’s High Line Park in New York as a good sign that the square will have the positive impact the city anticipates. In any case, Cleveland has a little more public space to enjoy—and a little less traffic to avoid—in its downtown.

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Federal Transit Administration demands Cleveland pay back $12 million

The Federal Transit Administration has sent a letter requesting the repayment of $12 million from the Cleveland RTA. The request comes after bus services were taken off Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland as part of the Public Square redevelopment. The letter states that the RTA is in “breach of a grant agreement” from 2004 and that they have 30 days from December 20th to pay back the $12 million. The FTA had warned the RTA and the City of Cleveland in previous letters that there would be consequences if Superior Avenue did not open to traffic after its renovations were complete. As per the 2004 grant agreement, a "bus rapid transit line along Euclid Avenue would end in Public Square," according to cleveland.com. In a press conference in mid-November, Cleveland’s Mayor Frank Jackson and RTA Manager Joe Calabrese alluded to the square staying closed. The street was originally set to reopen in August but remained closed as the city and the RTA discussed possible options for the street. In the past, the square was been divided into quadrants, with Superior bisecting the park. As part of the park's renovation, Superior was designed as a bus-only street. The city and the RTA have yet to announce whether the street will remain closed permanently, or whether there is a timeline to reopen it. The $50 million overall renovation of the Public Square was recently completed. The 10-acre park was designed by James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) with a small café designed by New York-based nARCHITECTS with local architects Westlake Reed Leskosky. The new park is being seen as a boon for the revitalization of the downtown, and a major step in connecting the city’s public spaces to Lake Erie.
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A new must-read book explores the divides within landscape architecture and urban design

Questions of environment, ecology, and climate have never more intensely occupied the cultural zeitgeist. According to editors Christophe Girot and Dora Imhof of the ETH Zurich, as scarcity, ruin, and a siege mentality drove the functionalism that dominated architecture of the post-war period, the profession of landscape architecture is still in the midst of responding to a decades-long environmental crisis, and has produced similarly functionalist design. They suggest (as Elizabeth Meyer has for years in her Sustaining Beauty writings) that recent landscape architectural production is too highly conditioned by analytics, abstracted from site, and producing works that don’t rise above functionalist responses to an environment in peril. 

Thinking the Contemporary Landscape, a 17-essay collection, attempts to set up a discourse between opposing ideologies, such as science and memory, power and territory, fact and myth, in order to present an all-encompassing theory of contemporary landscape practice. While this endeavor ultimately frays, revealing the unlikelihood (or frankly, undesirability) of such unification, the book itself is a must-read for landscape architects and urbanists. The editors wittingly construct a discourse about a schism in modes of practice, a reaction perhaps to the dominance in recent years of landscape urbanism and its hybrids. Despite the foregrounding of an environment in peril, they react to scientific positivism by advocating for a return to aesthetics, poetics, myth, and meaning. The current volume suggests other new identities. If we are to believe Charles Waldheim, landscape architect equals urbanist. Waldheim and James Corner in particular are intent on fomenting this shift in perception; beseeching practitioners to take control of urban design territory (presumably, before the architects and urban planners beat them to it).

Girot’s essay laments the modes of visualization epitomized by the “layer-cake” approach of Ian McHarg, author of the 1969 Design with Nature. He suggests that years of design with 2-D maps and collage have effectively broken down landscape thinking into abstract, and ultimately, meaningless, layers. Girot argues that the results of this diagrammatic thinking have stripped design of character, of local connections, and ultimately, of meaning. 

As a counterpoint, Corner argues for the preeminence of the plan, composite layers, and collage, suggesting they have the capacity to become “engendering machines” of “rich and unpredictable interactions,” a method that comes from ecology itself. Corner plays both ends of the spectrum, at once advocating for performance and form. In a mediated (and ultimately modest) position, Corner’s conception of “format” is hardly memorable. In the context of design reviews as long as six years ago, Corner declared that the University of Pennsylvania was about form and aesthetics, and Harvard was about performance. This dissonance of Corner’s recent commentary with his earlier writings manifests as some subconscious and uncoordinated id-war, a shift away from the working landscape and toward the “pictorial impulse” he earlier reviled (in New Operations and the Eidetic Landscape).

Recalling David Gissen’s Subnatures, Vittoria Di Palma’s intriguing discussion of aesthetics engages the wasteland as site of primal disgust and ultimately, subversive aesthetics. She revisits the picturesque and its power to give “a new prominence to aversive landscape,” (a topic explored by Robert Smithson in 1973’s Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape), an apt aesthetic history to sample when theorizing the entropy, asymmetry, and gnarliness of the Anthropocene.

Other contributors reject the editors’ prompt of aesthetics altogether. Notably, Kongjian Yu, a practitioner of ecological design in China, argues powerfully for landschaft or the working landscape, suggesting that “the quality and beauty of the landscape has been detached from the notion of a holistic land system for living and survival, and has now become high art landscape design exclusively for the pleasure of the urban elite.” In a similar vein, Saskia Sassen’s critique eviscerates the blunt hand of capitalism that is currently playing out in the form of global land acquisition.

Rather than a clear way forward, the diversity of this volume evidences a fraught world in need of urban design leadership, solutions for the anxious environment of climate change, and rethinking the future of landscape’s territory and meaning in the 21st century.

Thinking The Contemporary Landscape Christophe Girot, Dora Imhof, Princeton Architectural Press, $45

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Seattle’s waterfront transformation by James Corner Field Operations prepares to break ground this year

Seattle, Washington’s waterfront redevelopment, an endeavor James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) has been working on diligently for nearly a decade, is steadily moving closer to being implemented, as the $700 million project heads toward beginning construction this year. 

The development cleared a major hurdle in August when supporters of the project garnered over 80 percent of the cast ballots needed to reject an initiative that would have derailed the JCFO scheme. JCFO’s vision for the two-mile-long promenade would stitch together city’s burgeoning downtown with its isolated, post-industrial waterfront, converting the space currently occupied by the Alaskan Way Viaduct into a broad pedestrian-oriented waterfront park and roadway. The Alaskan Way Viaduct, built in 1953, is currently in the process of being replaced by a partially completed underground highway tunnel that would free up the city’s coastline for public recreational activities. The redevelopment will be funded via a new tax levied on downtown businesses and will continue a nationwide trend of replacing or repurposing aging infrastructure with a mix of public amenities and new development.

Andrew tenBrink, a designer at JCFO who has been working on the project since it started in 2010, said the firm had been “struck by the ‘big nature’ of the area,” as it developed a project for a city sitting “on the cusp of the wilderness, between the bay and mountains.”

Aside from creating a new recreational spine for the city’s downtown, the new route will also string together existing cultural destinations along the waterfront like the famed Pike Place Market to the south, the Bassetti Architects–designed Seattle Aquarium at its center, and the Weiss/Manfredi Architects–designed Olympic Sculpture Park to the north. Charles Anderson Landscape Architecture was a landscape architecture consultant for the project. 

The aquarium, built in 1977 on the waterfront’s Pier 59, can currently only be reached via a disruptive landscape of viaduct overpasses and parking lots. In the new plan, it will be located at the end of a broad public plaza accessible by a scenic lookout designed in concert with the waterfront scheme, reconnecting it to the city center.

JCFO’s redevelopment plan would also connect to the iconic Olympic Sculpture Park located at the northern edge of the development, connecting the city’s network of bicycle and walking trails, currently divided between north and south, together along the waterfront. TenBrink described the history of the waterfront as something that has “constantly evolved” over its transition from native habitat to industrial area and transportation corridor. In the near future, Seattle’s waterfront will transform once again to become a line between the “pristine nature of Pacific Northwest and a very manufactured (urban) landscape,” said tenBrink.

Another major and partially completed component of the project entails rebuilding an existing seawall used to mitigate Puget Sound’s constantly fluctuating tides. Between epic “king tides,” monthly lunar tides, and other seasonally variable waves, the water’s height can vary by as much as 12 feet, so the design team has deployed specially-designed panels, some codesigned with local artists, to create spots for tidal wildlife to live and grow. The wall also marks the area’s mean, low, and high tides and contains walkway areas with embedded glass blocks that allow for daylight to permeate the water, as to not disrupt sensitive spawning grounds.

The remaining areas that feed into the promenade and roadway will also receive improvements to their streetscapes in order to facilitate the pedestrianization of surrounding areas while also inserting key landscape components.

This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.

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First look: photographs of Chicago’s redeveloped Navy Pier

Phase 1 of the James Corner Field Operations-masterplanned Navy Pier is complete, and Iwan Baan and Sahar Coston-Hardy have captured a first look of the refurbished pleasure pier. James Corner Field Operations is also acting as lead designer on the multi-year project. James Corner Field Operations is also acting as lead designer on the multi-year project, with other collaborators including nArchitects, Gensler, Thornton Tomasetti, Fluidity Design Consultants, Buro Happold, and graphic designers Pentagram. The architecture of the kiosks, pavilions, and “Wave Wall” was designed by New York-based nARCHITECTS. Often cited as the most popular tourist destination in Chicago, Navy Pier is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The 3,300-foot-long pier is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Originally part of Danial Burnham’s Plan of Chicago, the pier has served many purposes over the last century, including as a campus for the University of Illinois (UIC). Before UIC’s School of Architecture moved to its current Walter Netsch-designed building, the school was located near the end of the pier. AIA Chicago’s Design Night awards ceremony, along with many other major art and design events, including EXPO Chicago, are now held in the pier multiple exhibition spaces. James Corner Field Operations’s designs include extensive renovation of the exterior public promenade of the pier. An undulating Wave Wall, inspired by Rome’s Spanish Steps, features a louvered facade that transforms into a grand stair. Near the entry to the pier a glass- and chrome-clad Info Tower acts as a beacon orienting visitors while reflecting the city and the lake. Replacing a hodgepodge of mismatched kiosks along the length of the pier, new Lake Pavilions will act as boat ticket kiosks and shaded rest areas. The polished stainless steel canopies reflect the lake’s rippling water onto the surface of the pier. Other freestanding kiosks provide for the remaining promenade guest services. Other features completed as part of Phase 1 include the new Polk Bros. Park and Fountain Plaza near the base of the pier. As the interface with the city, new traffic and pedestrian patterns were worked out to increase safety in the heavily trafficked area. The new fountain, engineered and programmed by Fluidity Design Consultants, shoots complex geometric jets of water and transforms into an ice rink in the winter. Early designs for Phase 2 of the project indicate the pier will have a new hotel designed by Chicago-based Koo Associates, and a sweeping viewing platform and pool at the pier's end. The project is also the first SITES v2 Gold-Certified project in the world, a new comprehensive international sustainability matrix managed by the U.S. Green Building Council.
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More images reveal what James Corner’s Underline project will look like

A pop-up preview of James Corner Field Operations’(JCFO) “Brickell Backyard” will be unveiled Tuesday next week. The temporary mini-gym and fitness area has been designed and installed by Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation and will provide a six-month sneak preview of what is to come for the Underline project.

The event will signal the start of the Underline's first stage of development. It's the precursor to the “Brickell Underline Park," a northern section of the Underline located near the Miami River. The park aims to breathe new life into the ten-mile stretch of underused land beneath Miami’s Metrorail, transforming it into a linear park, urban trail and living art destination. Once complete, the area will offer picnic areas, park benches, native vegetation, a nature-inspired playground, a dog park, basketball court, and art installations. In addition to this, further mixed-use parks are planned for other parts of the Underline, all of which come under JCFO’s master plan for the site.

According to the Underline website, the project is "aimed at encouraging Miami-Dade residents to walk, bike or ride transit as an alternative to driving... [it] will serve as an enhanced mobility corridor, designed to better connect communities, improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, and promote a healthier lifestyle with accessible green spaces and park amenities for exercise and relaxation."

The Underline is the product of a public/private partnership among Miami-Dade Parks, Miami-Dade Transportation and Public Works, and Friends of The Underline. It also fits within the county’s wider scheme of the Masterplan Greenway network that comprises 500 miles of trails and connected public spaces.

As for the Underline’s “Brickell Backyard” fitness area, funding for the pop-up gym equipment—amounting to a total of $47,000—will come from the Community Outlay Reserve Funds (CORF).

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Navy Pier unveils plans for sweeping overlook designed by James Corner Field Operations

Chicago's Navy Pier has released new images of the next phase of its Centennial Vision plan. The new renderings reveal a sweeping elevated walkway over the eastern end of the pier. Designed by James Corner Field Operations, the “Lake Overlook” sits over a reflecting pool called “Lake Mirror.”  Along with a new hotel, a rooftop bar, and a redesigned landscape are all part of a multi-year reimagining of the popular tourist attraction. Navy Pier has recently finished much of the first phase of the Centennial Vision, including an updated enlarged Ferris wheel and promenade. The latest improvements to the pier were also designed by James Corner Field Operations. Currently the entry park at the western end of the pier, Polk Brothers Park, is also under construction. The new green space will include a lawn for for gatherings and performances. A 4,000-square-foot entry pavilion will be tucked under the park. A 240-room hotel was announced recently for the pier. The hotel is being designed by Chicago-based KOO Architects. Along with the hotel, a new rooftop bar and restaurant will be constructed on top of one of the pier’s existing structures. The restaurant is expected to be completed in 2017, with a 2018 completion date set for the Hotel. The other improvements, including the “Lake Overlook,” are dependent on funding, which the pier hopes to secure through private sponsors.
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Cleveland Public Square reopens after major renovation by James Corner Field Operations

After several years of planning and 15 months of renovation, Cleveland Public Square reopened to the public last Thursday. The dramatic $50 million restoration of the 6-acre park offers a variety of opportunities for public programming and activities; it has even helped prompt a series of residential and commercial construction projects in the city’s center. James Corner Field Operations has completely transformed the park: Ontario Street is now permanently closed between South Roadway and Rockwell Avenue; Superior Avenue is used exclusively for transit; corners of intersections and formerly paved areas have been converted to green lawn. The design also includes a fountain in the park’s center which will serve as an ice rink in the winter, a wide range of vegetation, and extensive walkways. LANDStudio and the Group Plan Commission, two civic groups, oversaw the project’s financing and construction. The extensive restoration consisted of the reconstruction of water, electrical, and communication infrastructure below ground and above ground construction that converted the roadways into a pedestrian corridor. The opening comes just before the Republican National Convention to be held in Cleveland.
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James Corner Field Operations’ “ICEBERGS” exhibit opens at the National Building Museum

  A new installation at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. gives visitors an icy antidote to the city’s hot summer temperatures, which are expected to surge up to 100 degrees. Dubbed ICEBERGS, the exhibit lets visitors explore an underwater world of snow and ice. The exhibit, designed by the landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations, consists of “icebergs” made from reusable construction materials and a 50-foot “water line” topped by an airy outpost above. The total space of the exhibition is over 12,000 square feet. In addition to exploring icebergs and caves, guests can try a Japanese shaved ice snack called kakigori courtesy of Daikaya restaurant. Last summer the National Building Museum exhibited the Snarkitecture-designed THE BEACH, which featured a massive ball pit that encouraged visitors young and old to go play. THE BEACH also had a 50-foot “shoreline” with umbrellas and beach chairs, and a mirrored wall that made the sea of close to 1 million translucent plastic balls seem to go on forever. This glacial, underwater world contrasts with the hot, sticky Washington DC summer, but it’s also a reminder of climate change. “Such a world is both beautiful and ominous,” said James Corner Field Operations’ founder and director James Corner, “given our current epoch of climate change, ice-melt, and rising seas.” Learn more about the exhibit here.
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Colorful animal sculptures coming to Cleveland’s Public Square

Nonprofit Cleveland-based LAND Studio has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation to install temporary outdoor art over the course of three years. The installations have been designed by Italian art collective Cracking Art Group. Art will be displayed in the city's Public Square, currently in the final stages of a $50 million overhaul by New York Firm James Corner Field Operations. The Mall and balconies and garden of the main Cleveland Public Library will also be used as locations. Based in Milan, Cracking Art Group are well known for interspersing brightly-colored oversized animals across the city. Clevelanders can expect huge yellow snails or mobs of pink meerkats to invade the ten-acre civic space, adding a vibrant dash of color to the scene. Other animal additions include groups of swallows, wolves, frogs, and a red elephant, are set to be the showpiece focal point of the installation. Rising to some eight feet high, the elephant, the symbol of the GOP, will welcome Donald Trump and co. to the area for the Republican National Convention this year on July 18. Being made from plastic, the colorful animals will not be fixed to the ground, allowing for children to interact with them though LAND Studio acknowledge that this means some could be stolen. Others, meanwhile, will be weighed down with sand to keep them in place. "The choice of recyclable plastic for its aesthetic appeal shows acceptance of the inevitability that our world is becoming increasingly artificial," say Cracking Art Group on their wesbite. "The artworks are designed to inspire a community-wide conversation about the importance and the environmental impact of recycling, while leaving a potent artistic trace." Before the installation can go up, however, the the city's Landmarks Commission has to award approval to the finalized proposals, though it was reported that "stakeholders, including the city, have already weighed in." Even when the animals leave the area however, LAND Studio, who are working alongside fellow stakeholders Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, James Corner Field Operations and Nelson Nygaard hope that their colorful impact will remain with Public Square that they will essentially inaugurate. concert hill design "Public Square will be transformed from four individual quadrants into a singular public park that can be used throughout the year for a wide range of programs and events," they say.  "Landscape and design will create a soft colorful space that invites people in and encourages them to stay. The Square will include pedestrian pathways, green spaces for concerts and events, areas to sit and lounge, a water feature, a café and restrooms. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument will remain, but will be integrated into the overall park and become more accessible." The display by Cracking Art will feature 376 of the group's standard creatures, plus a bright red elephant, standing more than, which begins July 18.
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Here’s a First Look at the Finalists Vying to Redesign Downtown LA’s Pershing Square

Here’s the first look at the four final designs by Agence Ter and team, James Corner Field Operations with Fredrick Fischer and Partners, SWA and Morphosis, and wHY and Civitas for LA’s Pershing Square. Angelenos are being invited to comment on the finalists’ proposals over the next few weeks as Pershing Square Renew, a collection of designers, business leaders, and officials civic leaders, seeks to redevelop the centrally-located, five-acre square at the heart of Downtown LA. The teams of finalists hail from an original pool of ten groups that presented work to the nonprofit in October of 2015. That grouping was reduced to four teams in December, with those finalists' final submissions are now vying for the final selection, to be announced in May. The proposals are shown below and will be formally presented to the public at the Palace Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles on April 28th at a sold out event. See Pershing Square Renew’s website for updates on further public viewings.