Things Fall Apart
synonym journal, 2014

The city is Los Angeles. The year is 1994. Two great landscape architects - Ricardo Legorreta of Mexico City and Laurie Olin of Philadelphia were celebrating the opening of their brand new park space in Downtown Los Angeles’ Pershing Square. It was created with good intention. Legoretta’s purple and orange geometric metaphor of water flowing from the California mountain ranges to the citrus farmers is poetic but the symbolism is lost on park-goers, passersby and the city in general.

Two decades later it’s worse. Not only is the space misunderstood, it’s also misused. Legoretta’s row of bubblegum pink cylindrical concrete columns now separates the street from a dog area with astroturf and a chain-linked fence. A run-down cafe serves bad food. The water in the fountain is murky. Design elements and people are unhinged. In an interview last year, Olin said “one of the biggest disappointments of my life was our thinking that we knew what we were doing in that situation and we didn’t.” He goes on to admit that there should have been more green: “We were doing a place in the sun."

When do you save a place and when do you let it go? In this case, the design is significant but people hate it. Is it the fault of the design? Designers introduce things in to this world. Some things survive. Some things fall apart. Some things are hated. Many things disappear.

Let’s save Pershing Square. Let’s make it right. Again in Olin’s words, Los Angeles “needs some direction, something physical. The transience of things gets on your nerves.” It’s a reason to revive instead of rip out.


As identified by The World Monument Fund, an independent organization dedicated to saving the world’s most treasured places, here are four other things worth saving.

[01] Golden Gate Park Conservatory of Flowers
San Francisco, California

One of the largest conservatories in the United States with a rare botanical collection of 700-1,000 high-altitude orchids.

[02] A. Conger Goodyear House
Old Westbury, New York

Considered the finest example of International Style in America.

[03] San Esteban Del Rey Mission
Acoma Puebla, New Mexico

Built in 1629, it’s one of the largest adobe buildings in the country. One of the first missions to be built in the region it set the tone for the 55 New Mexican Spanish missions that would be built in the next century. Many of the original builders are buried on the grounds.

[04] New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture
New York, New York

The first site of the Whitney Museum of Art and home to Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s studio where low-relief seahorses, snakes and mermaids grace a celestial background.