Monday, December 22, 2008

Park It

There are a couple of greenings in the works at the moment that I'm particularly happy to hear about.  The first one is a competition for designs to create a Hudson Park between Thirty-Third and Forty-Second Streets on the west side.  Anyone who doesn't feel the need to take a cab the three blocks over to the Javits Center knows that that walk is probably one of the least pleasant of any in Manhattan.  Long stretches of high blank walls, warehouses, auto body shops, dangerous intersections with tunnel traffic speeding every which way (and you never quite know from which direction the next vehicle is coming), sidewalks strewn with garbage and broken glass.  It's a real mess.  

So aside from the fact that a park is almost always a good thing, many of the plans seem to address the pedestrian nightmare that is that section of the city.  To have a nice, pleasant corridor over to the west side would be more than welcome.  I think my favorites are this one by Work Architecture Company:

--Images courtesy Architectural Record.
It would have rolling hills with spaces underneath them for cafes and so on.  Very smart to include various different uses to make for a vibrant, living park.  Work also did that garden installation in the courtyard of P.S. 1 CAC.  Their park would harness solar power and clean the water, have a working farm and apple orchards, but it's also really cool because it would extend to the roofs of the surrounding buildings, not just ground level.

And this one by Hargreaves Associates/ TEN Arquitectos, because I love the grass loop-de-loop:

Very suave.  There's also an entry from Allied Works Architecture, who should be banned from ever doing anything in New York again after what they did to Columbus Circle, and their entry was not unexpectedly bland and uninspired anyway.  Let's not discuss them.

The other thing to be pleased about is that a section of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn is getting a major cleaning up by Rogers Marvel Architects:

--Images courtesy Curbed.
The first apartment I had in New York City was a ginormous--and terribly ugly--three-bedroom for $1000 a month in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Let me tell you, Red Hook was no picnic back then.  I haven't really explored much, recently, but all signs seem to indicate the neighborhood has come a very long way since then.

I used to cross over the Gowanus Canal to get to the huge supermarket.  It was fairly obviously more industrial waste than actual H₂O in there.  The "liquid" looked putrid and didn't particularly smell much better.  I always considered it such a completely tragically unexploited resource.  I imagined the canal with green park on either side, boat docks, crystal clear water, little cafes and restaurants on a boardwalk type of path overlooking the canal.  It had the potential to give the entire surrounding area an incredible boost and make it a truly delightful place to live and hang out.  Basically, just exactly what you can see they're planning to do.  It was about time, really.

©2008, Ryan Witte

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