Work is now underway at James Madison Park
Over the past several years, the city Parks and Recreation Department has been hard at work bringing more green spaces, innovative playgrounds, and serene shady plazas to Lower Manhattan. The transformation of paved lots and underused park areas has been a gradual process, with Parks designers and contractors at work in neighborhoods from the Battery to Tribeca to the Lower East Side. Funded by more than $82 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, here’s a rundown of the latest downtown parks either recently opened beginning construction, or soon to open.
Completed in 2009, this half-acre park -- once a gravel-paved parking lot -- was transformed into a welcoming green gateway to Lower Manhattan. The contemporary design pays homage to some of Manhattan’s oldest pocket parks, such as Jackson Square and Bowling Green.
At the center of CaVaLa Park sits a 114-foot-long sculptural water fountain by artist Elyn Zimmerman, a reference to the canal that once ran through this site. Water cascades from a granite tower down through a weir into three interconnected locks of water. Each lock contains a span of still water that travels over a series of stepped rapids as it descends to the next level. A double row of canopy and street trees line the park’s perimeter, defining the open triangle. Three large planting beds are filled with low flowering shrubs and colorful perennials. An evergreen hedge along all three sides contains ornamental plantings and will provide year-round decoration.
|CaVaLa Park in April of 2003 before development
There is a continuous perimeter fence on the outside with three major entrances at each corner. These entrances are marked with granite columns containing images illustrating the different transformations of the site’s history. (Completed July 2009)
Burling Slip, Imagination Playground
A unique playground is being built at Burling Slip, in the South Street Seaport area. It draws upon the historic legacy of this maritime district, and provides a rich environment encouraging creative and imaginative play by children.
In place of traditional play equipment, “Imagination Playground” will be home to what appears to be an old sailing ship with various play zones. At the center will be a multi-level sand pit with masts and pulleys. A slide will be on top of a horseshoe-shaped ramp, with platforms and climbing nets below. An interactive water-play area will be set within an amphitheater.
Wood decking will surround the playground, with areas for sand and water play, listening to the sounds of the seaport, or whispering to each other in a forest of red steel pipes. A roof deck reminiscent of a crow’s nest on a ship will house loose play pieces, providing children with the raw materials for creativity and sensory exploration. The playground will be fully staﬀed by “play workers.” (Anticipated completion: August 2010)
DeLury Square Park
At the intersection of Fulton and Gold Streets, the new DeLury Square Park is being built as an attractive community greenspace along the rebuilt Fulton Street Corridor. When completed, it will offer local residents and visitors a place of relative quiet, with a fountain, sitting areas, and lush plantings. Sculptural arrangements of large stones refer back to the site’s original bedrock that supported the woodlands of this portion of Manhattan, as well as the skyscrapers of stone that followed in more recent decades.
The acquisition of a parcel of property from Southbridge Towers and the realignment of Fulton Street created the opportunity to construct this expanded park. Several city agencies have played important roles in this effort, including the city Economic Development Corporation, and Departments of Transportation (DOT) and City Planning, in addition to Parks and Recreation. (Anticipated completion: June 2010)
|Delury Square is scheduled to complete in 2010
Pearl Street Playground
The reconstruction of the Pearl Street Playground is an opportunity to improve another Fulton Street Corridor amenity. The three parks along the corridor -- DeLury Square, Pearl, and Titanic -- are thematically linked according to the area’s historical topography: from the upland landscape to the sandy bank to the tidal marsh.
The Pearl Street Playground reconstruction benefits from the closing of Little Pearl Street, adjacent to St. Margaret’s Home, and the new curb alignment of Fulton Street -- which allow the popular playground to be expanded. Its redesign will improve pedestrian circulation and plaza space, linking the Beekman Pedestrian Street to a Pearl pedestrian corridor
The design intent is to create an open space and playground that is thematically joined to the site, including a continuation of the original water line (marked in the pavement) and a landform/planting bed that evokes the original sandy bluff and drainage pattern to the East River. An oval form is repeated to mirror the schematic design for Titanic Park across Pearl Street . An oyster shaped spray shower and sand-play area is a nod to the oyster middens that once marked Pearl Street, and shaped the Lower Manhattan shoreline. (Anticipated start: June 2010)
|Work on Pearl Street Playground is scheduled to begin in 2010
Titanic Park is being reconstructed as a more beautiful, greener space to be enjoyed by local residents and visitors to the area. The work includes new bluestone sidewalks, a new seating area with historic 1939 World’s Fair benches, bicycle racks, granite curbs, post-and-chain fencing, custom light poles, bluestone and granite block pavements, storm water drainage, and irrigation. The design also includes new plantings, and a colored concrete watercourse with landscape boulders -- marking the original downtown shoreline at low tide. (Started January 2010)
James Madison Plaza
The new, green James Madison Plaza will transform this former paved lot into a comfortable sitting area surrounded by a shaded garden. The new design will include water features that will animate the space and attract new visitors. Low fencing and new plantings will provide a green buffer from surrounding traffic. The design will also include new sidewalks, benches, tables, a drinking fountain, bike racks, and park security lighting. (Anticipated start: mid-May 2010)
Collect Pond Park
Parks’ design intent here is to create a lush green park that interprets the cultural landscape of “The Collect” with modern materials and a sense of adventure. Water is a key component of the design, interpreted in several forms: in the flow of the paved areas, the abstract ponds, and the ground sprays. There are many play opportunities and ways to cool down on hot summer days. On the north end near the municipal courthouse, an open plaza with benches, game tables and seats will be an attraction for lunchtime workers and court visitors. It will also provide a gathering space for scheduled and informal events.
The reconstruction of Collect Pond Park will help to alleviate the shortage of usable open space in this part of Lower Manhattan and address the needs of a changing community as it transitions to more residential use. The existing municipal parking lot will be eliminated and the amount of impervious paved area will be reduced. The history of the park and the events that have taken place on the former pond will be interpreted through a series of wayside signs with images and text. Graphics will depict key moments in time and/or structures that once existed on the site. They will be chronologically organized with no more than five freestanding stations in stainless steel with etched graphics and text.
Pike and Allen Malls
The Pike and Allen Street Malls will provide a unique pedestrian park promenade that creates a greenway corridor with a central pedestrian path -- linked at three intersections by DOT-designated plaza connectors. The width of the existing center plots has been expanded to accommodate the bike lanes, which will be integrated into the park edge and buffered by planted medians.
The aesthetic of the new streetscape will take its cues from the history and diversity of this distinctive neighborhood and its connection to the East River waterfront. The welcoming design brings new paving, curbs, seating, planting, fencing, bicycle racks, and drinking fountains.
The Catherine Slip project combines both contemporary landscaping with design language that celebrates the past. The Slips’ streetscapes are an extraordinary opportunity to reflect the changing Lower East Side neighborhood, as well as provide important connections to the East River waterfront. Its character is sensitive to the thriving neighborhood and history, ensuring that these "gateways" or "vestibules" to the river become places of neighborhood pride and gatherings.
By closing down an underused street along the western edge of Tanahey Park, Catherine Slip becomes a group of small, vibrant neighborhood spaces beyond just enhanced and distinctive streetscape treatments. The “design language” includes a materials palette that conveys the past, present and future while considering durability and ease of maintenance. In addition to recreational areas, the lawns will function as sustainable biofilters -- directing and assisting in management of area rainwater. New seating is predominantly situated eastward towards the sculptural planting, Tanahey Park, and the East River Waterfront Esplanade beyond, while a historic narrative is conveyed with an interpretive plaque.
Catherine Slip’s connection to East River Waterfront Esplanade is established with the use of a three-tone hexagonal paver mix that is a variation of the proposed themes at East River Park. Pedestrian connections to the East River Waterfront are strengthened throughout the slip, helping clarify crosswalks. (Anticipated start: June 2010)
Montgomery Slip follows the design palette and connection to East River Waterfront Esplanade set by Catherine Slip. It creates a series of planted medians in the unused striped center of the street. The planters will be shaped as steel barges floating down the slope of the street, marching toward the East River and beyond. (Anticipated start: June 2010)
Washington Market Park Comfort Station
A new building is under construction in this neighborhood park that will house ADA-compliant restrooms. The building has been designed to have minimal impact on the existing landscape and usage of this idyllic park. Vines will climb up a gently curving brick wall, which will shield a storage area for maintenance equipment from the rest of the park. The roof will be covered with small flowering plants, forming an attractive view to people descending the staircase from Borough of Manhattan Community College. The community garden plots will be restored and improved upon completion of the building. (Anticipated completion: July 2010)
Sara D. Roosevelt Park - Hester Street Playground and Restrooms
Part of the second phase of the LMDC parks projects, this portion of Sara D. Roosevelt Park involves reconstructing the playground and plaza between the playgrounds, and building public and staff restrooms in the Parks building at Hester Street. (The first phase was the track and athletic field area south of Hester Street.)
Through community workshops and outreach to the public, various requests were incorporated into the design. The playground will be safer with age-specific play areas, and will include active and creative sand and water play spaces. The plaza will provide an open, flexible community space with restrooms being reconstructed for public access, with special provisions for maintaining cleanliness. (Anticipated completion: May 2010)
SeaGlass Carousel at the Battery
The SeaGlass Carousel at Battery Park is an innovative, aquatic-themed ride for the millions of annual visitors to Lower Manhattan. This unique aquatic carousel was inspired by the Battery’s historic role as home to New York’s first aquarium (1896 to 1941). SeaGlass combines art, science and technology to enchant through movement, light and sound. Inside a nautilus-shaped pavilion, an ocean floor turntable supports 30 individually cast sea creatures -- inspired by many species exhibited at that first aquarium.
During each carousel ride, the pavilion’s “Smart Glass” walls will change from transparent to a dark, almost opaque, cobalt blue, while underwater images project on the spiraling roof to simulate the descent through the ocean’s many diverse layers. SeaGlass is a confluence of art, architecture, music, and film designed to immerse youth of all ages in the mystery and thrill of the undersea world.