Pershing SquareLos Angeles, CA, USA Park Fifth Associates Chris Dikeakos Architects, Associate Architect Residential 1.2 million ft2 / 115,000 m2 Certification (Goal) AIA New York Chapter Award of Merit (2007), Los Angeles Business Council Architectural Awards, Unbuilt Category (2007)
The Park Fifth project will be the first address of an emerging residential community in the symbolic center of downtown Los Angeles, Pershing Square. Building on such a prominent site requires that this new development engage the civic realm in addition to providing the privacy and comfort necessary for a residential enclave. The design philosophy guiding this project is that urban and suburban residential typologies can be merged in one building design. The objective is to attract middle-class Angelenos to move back to the city center by offering some of the very advantages which drew them to live in single-family houses in the first place. In addition, the project involves repairing and restoring a missing section of the historic street wall fabric of the city’s core.
The site is located along an urban seam that bisects downtown Los Angeles; to the east, a vibrant shopping and entertainment district inhabits the early 20th century loft buildings of the historic core; to the west, the office towers of the elevated plateau known as Bunker Hill serve a 9-to-5 corporate constituency. The Park Fifth project has the opportunity to mediate between these parallel urbanisms that exist more or less independent from one another. With this in mind, the site plan for the project was conceived as an assemblage of individual buildings, as opposed to a single mega-structure.
Two towers, 37- and 71-floors-high, are comprised of stacked bundles of 860 individual dwelling units that vary in plan, section, and proportion, each with its own eight-foot-wide balcony “backyard” with views of the mountains, the Pacific Ocean, and the city’s urban landscape. Clustered into zones of the multi-mass composition so as to suggest different “neighborhoods”, the monotony of the standard extruded tower typology is avoided. Views of greenscapes are formed by inner gardens and the borrowed landscape of a soon to be re-vegetated Pershing Square. Broad expanses of blue sky are framed by the white concrete of the building’s slabs, balconies, and bridges.
While the taller tower will attain landmark status on the Los Angeles skyline, it is the central plaza that will become the iconic representation of the new Park Fifth community. A monumental 10-story-high ‘urban window’ on the Fifth Street façade frames a view into the plaza from Pershing Square, making it appear as if the green of the park continues up and inside the middle of the block. The void is intended to create a literal and figurative transparency across the site, opening the residential enclave to a larger urban context. From within, the elevated plaza is an arrival space for residents, a garden court, and a belvedere affording an ideal prospect across the park.