Might This Be the Park Plan That's Too Good for LA?
The biggest problem I have had in trying to first figure out myself – and then to try and explain why this park design by James Corner Field Operations works so well is due to invisible complexity with which the planner has put together different elements which function with – or without each other - in ways that are not immediately apparent. Particularly when what they are doing may not be visible even if you are standing right in front of them. And unless everyone making the decision about how to redesign Pershing Square,next week really understands this plan - we may lose a plan that is far better than even the first three Pershing Squares
To explain, I’ll use the single best park feature ever proposed to be built in any LA park - and that is the terraced hill. It starts by fixing a problem I have thought about for 20 years without a clue as to how to fix; it’s the really ugly sidewalk on the 6th Street side of the park and it is right after the half block that passes the side wall of a bank branch, which is another dreary walk.
And what’s so amazing about the solution is that the designer connects the park and the neighborhood right here – in an awesomely incredible way – that I can’t imagine any other designer ever creating. He solves the connection problem between the sidewalk by pulling back the park even further back from the street and then creating a sidewalk version of the park – a wonderful esplanade with trees and flowers and café’s etc. – that will become the single best walking half-block in DTLA – while at the same time having the other corners opening into the park – with no steps or ramps – just a gentle slope - leading our eyes right to the fountain in the middle of the park.
And that’s just the start…
The real brilliance of the hill (which to the uneducated eye may appear to separate the interior part of the park from the city and the neighborhood) is that it has a large flat esplanade at its top with a 360 degree view of all of Pershing Square and all of the Bunker Hill and all the surrounding historic buildings.
And that gives that side of the park not just a street connection with the esplanade but it also gives the park 360 connection with the whole neighborhood – and the sky and the sun – and the moon and the clouds. And if you take a picture of yourself or a friend – right behind you will be all of Pershing Square and half of the buildings of Bunker Hill and Pershing Square – and the big wide sky above.
And in all of DTLA – and there is no other spot where that type of photo can be taken. And with LA based snapchat now having 7 BILLION views a day – this could overnight become one of the most popular places in LA to take a soon to be iconic photo.
But that’s only a few of the ways the hill makes this park design so unique. It also shields traffic noises on that side of the park and the scale of its terraces also makes it a great place for couples and individuals and families to take part of each terrace as a place to be together.
And at night, if there is a movie or a concert – the hillside will be pre-wired to have speakers on each level to provide far better quality sound than is possible now for listeners – instead of the current blast of sound that's so loud it disturbs the whole area as it does now
And that’s just a touch of what this plan has to offer the community but which cannot be learned by looking at renderings or reading bullet pint presentations. And that brings me to my biggest fear. That this plan may be too sophisticated to be understood without a lot of careful reading of its details or walking the site with someone who knows how to explain it.
And that's why it may be the plan that's... too good for LA.