Film | Planning | Design
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Redemption Square

 

A journey into the hidden world of Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles.

 
 
 
 

2018
18 min. (or seven mini-episodes)

In the footsteps of many unique Angelenos, a down-on-her-luck woman finds a new identity in Pershing Square, a notoriously unloved space in downtown Los Angeles.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Redemption Square explores how the design of public space can change a person's life. Begun as my masters thesis project at MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, the story takes viewers into Pershing Square during five eras of its transformation—from 1866 through today—guided by the voices of people who spend their time there and those who fight to redesign it.

I hope this film helps people imagine their own stories in this place, to discover the spirit of the park and of public life in the city. To set up a screening or help make the project more interactive or accessible, please contact me.

 
 

Directed by John Moody
Starring Lisa Biagiotti & Lorraine Morland
Original Music by Nick Myers & Colin Yarck
Sound Design by Colin Yarck
Graphic Design by John Cranston
Cinematography by Drew Ganyer & Garrett Lamb
Produced by Anne Whiston Spirn
An Invisible Cities Studio & MIT DUSP Production

 

Watch as Episodes

1. On My Mind

A mysterious woman serenades a lonely public park in downtown Los Angeles, remembering the ghosts of her past. (1:32)

 

2. Campfire (1860s)

In 1866, a pioneer settler encounters a mother and son camping in the park in front of her house, while L.A. officials take steps to beautify the park as a new centerpiece for their expanding city. (1:55)

 

3. Working Men (1900s)

In 1908, a visitor to L.A. encounters the greatest “working man’s park” he has ever seen, while the Park Board streamlines the park’s design to keep pace with surging business activity downtown. (2:07)

 

4. Unafraid (1940s)

In 1944, a social misfit finds a new home amongst Pershing Square’s “ever-shifting group of people,” while a business association campaigns to transform the park into an underground parking garage. (2:25)

 

5. Safe Haven (1980s)

In 1986, a woman with nowhere to go finds refuge in the run-down Pershing Square, while a new business association fights to redesign the park as a beacon for international investment in downtown L.A. (3:36)

 

6. Versions of the Truth (2018)

A young journalist discovers a park that is not what it seems, while local officials push for a new design to capture downtown’s renewed identity. (6:01)

 

7. Time in Place

In Pershing Square, two women reflect on life in Los Angeles and make an unusual connection. (3:40)