Since Prospect Park’s Third Street entrance closed to non-essential automobile traffic in 2009, a dowdy metal police barricade has served as the formal entryway for pedestrians and cyclists. In December, the Park Slope Civic Council, seeking to rally support for designing a new approach to the park, announced a concept by New York architects Jordan Yamada and Peter Zaharatos as the winner of its Prospect Park Gateway Design Competition.
Their proposal, Stone Garden, arrays a series of 12 movable granite stones outfitted with casters and set in parallel bronze tracks. Each megalith invites public interaction while creating an ever-changing field to control traffic. Yamada and Zaharatos envisioned a tranquil entry space that blends with the park’s landscape. Drawing inspiration from the mysterious movement of desert sailing stones, the concept also takes on the meditative qualities of a Zen garden.
Architect Gilly Youner, who organized the gateway competition, hopes the concept might prove viable at other Prospect Park entrances to create a uniform appearance and streamline maintenance costs. Deborah Marton, executive director at the Design Trust for Public Space, lauds the neighborhood’s efforts to advocate for better entryway design but also notes practical considerations. “It makes most sense to have a comprehensive plan taking into account traffic flows at all entrances,” says Marton. Private funds are currently being sought to build a prototype of Stone Garden as an art installation.