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LA Kicks Off Global Competition To Redesign Pershing Square

LOS ANGELES ( — Wanna help redesign the oldest park in the city of Los Angeles?

Officials announced Wednesday the launch of an international design competition to re-envision Pershing Square, the historic five-acre park in the heart of downtown L.A.

The Pershing Square Design Competition will take place over the next six months. In November, 10 "semi-finalists" will be chosen and asked to present their qualifications and preliminary design concepts to a multi-disciplinary jury in Los Angeles.

The announcement comes just one day after the Los Angeles City Council voted 15-0 to approve an agreement between the Recreation and Parks Department and the nonprofit Pershing Square Renew, which will lead the effort.

Located at the intersection of the Financial District and the Historic Core of downtown, Pershing Square was dedicated in 1866
by Mayor Cristobal Aguilar as "La Plaza Abaja" ("the Lower Plaza").

It has since been redesigned and renamed multiple times, with major overhauls occurring in the 1950s and early 1990s.

The Pershing Square Renew campaign grew out of a task force formed by Councilmember Jose Huizar after redistricting placed the historic square in his district in 2012.

Huizar told City News Service last month the idea for the competition was inspired in part by the failure of the "fortress-like" Pershing Square to live up to its potential as one of the city's "precious open spaces."

"It doesn't really blend well into the local community, the sight views -- you really can't see -- there's a lot of blockage," he said. "So I thought it was worthwhile to go out and have a competition to redesign the park for what is the modern downtown L.A."

The competition will cost taxpayers "nothing", according to Huizar, though some city special funds will likely be used.

Four finalists will be selected in December. They will then present their concepts to the jury in February, with a winner expected to be announced later that month.

Click here for more information on the Pershing Square Renew Challenge.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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