Posts tagged with "Central Park Conservancy":

The Central Park Conservancy announces $300 million fundraising campaign

The Central Park Conservancy is embarking on a big fundraising campaign: The nonprofit is seeking $300 million for the care and upkeep of Manhattan’s largest park. The Central Park Conservancy receives only about a quarter of its funding from taxpayers, leaving the other 75 percent to be funded by private donations. Even with a yearly budget of $65 million, many necessary repairs are now long overdue. Its crews must maintain a 693 acres of parkland filled with 20,000 trees. The program is called “Forever Green: Ensuring the Future of Central Park,” and the money it raises will go towards improvements like replacing the pipes in the Conservatory Garden fountain, a new facade for the Naumburg Bandshell, and the restoration of Belvedere Castle. It also seeks to restore Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's original vision for the space, and will focus on on historic features like The Ramble and the North Woods. While upkeep is costly, the Conservancy claims they help generate over $1 billion in economic activity yearly. The park now gets 42 million visitors, compared to 12 million a few decades ago. That booming number of guests has been hard on the park’s infrastructure. Luckily the conservation effort has no lack of donations from residents who have benefited from having the park in their backyard, including $100 million from hedge fund manager John A. Paulson and $25 million from the Thompson Family Foundation. The fundraising effort, having raised $112 million so far, is already more than a third complete.

Central Park’s Adventure Playground, designed by Richard Dattner, reopens after yearlong renovation

The Richard Dattner–designed Adventure Playground, one of New York City's most beloved recreational spaces, recently reopened after a yearlong renovation by the Central Park Conservancy. A companion Dattner park, Ancient Playground, underwent extensive renovations in 2009. Despite Ancient's ostensible claim to primacy, Adventure Playground opened in May 1967. Though the playground, at Central Park's well-trafficked West 67th Street entrance, has been popular since its unveiling, adventure playgrounds are an old idea. First conceived by modernist landscape architect C.Th. Sørensen, adventure playgrounds are quirky spaces that engender curiosity and encourages a range of passive and active recreation. In sharp contrast to mass-manufactured playsets, the playgrounds feature tree forts, mounds, tunnels, raw dirt, and water. Adventure playgrounds encourage prosocial behavior like cooperation and planning: children are given tools and materials for contributing to, and reshaping, the space. Emphasis is on calculated risk in a loosely controlled environment. The Land, Europe's newest adventure playground, permits children to use sharp tools and start fires under the watchful eyes of trained play facilitators. In Europe, adventure playgrounds incorporate more natural and found elements, while their U.S. counterparts are more designed. For his playground, Dattner was inspired by Isamu Noguchi's landforms, as well as the work of M. Paul Friedberg, one of the first architects to put the idea of "linked play" into practice. Dattner looked to Noguchi's 1933 proposal for Play Mountain, a block-long sculptural installation that could be used for sunbathing, lounging, and sledding in the wintertime. (Over 40 years later, Noguchi did get to build a playground, of a different design and scale, for Piedmont Park in Atlanta.) As part of a plaza design at the Jacob Riis Houses in the East Village, Friedberg conceived of the playground as an immersive environment, creating mounds, pyramids, and treehouses that would intrigue and engage children. In the 1960s, Central Park was a small forum for the larger fight against encroaching decay that occupied much of the city. Activists and parents, dissatisfied with the quality of the park's play spaces, agitated for the rebuilding of nine of Central Park's 18 playgrounds. With help from a Lauder Foundation grant, Dattner designed five of these. Adventure playgrounds fell out of favor as a growing culture of litigiousness prioritized safety over the risk inherent in the adventure playground's design. Consequently, the renovations align with contemporary standards of safety and accessibility, while restoring features lost over time. The renovation of Adventure Playground is part of the Central Park Conservancy's comprehensive plan to renovate or rebuild all 21 of the park's playgrounds. The grade of the maze will be changed, and railings modified or added. Tunnels that were closed in the 1970s on the conical climber will be reopened, and a new wood climber that aligns closely with the original design will be installed. The water feature will be rebuild, based on its original design. New fences are lower, integrating the playgrounds with the surrounding park. Adventure playground enthusiasts can visit the park's four other adventure playgrounds, as well as the one uptown, in Highbridge Park.

New York’s Landscape Architects Toast The Architect’s Newspaper

Last week during the annual American Society of Landscape Architects' New York Chapter's President's Dinner, The Architect's Newspaper was honored for its continued coverage of landscape architecture. In tandem with the award, AN published our first issue devoted entirely to landscape architecture and urban design, in recognition of the discipline's expanding civic role. The night's other honorees were the New York City Department of Environmental Protection's Commissioner, Carter Strickland, who has helped support and implement green infrastructure in the as a part of a citywide water management strategy, and Douglas Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy. Under Blonksy's leadership the Central Park Conservancy has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the Park's restoration and ongoing maintenance. During the ceremony, ASLA President Laura Starr, principal of Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects, kept a focus on the discipline's civic role, a role she sees expanding in post-Hurricane Sandy New York. Everyone at The Architect's Newspaper was gratified to be recognized by ASLA NY, and, as publisher Diana Darling said in her remarks, the paper has consistently covered landscape architecture since its inception in 2003.  AN has always placed architecture in a broad context including its allied disciplines, and the paper has received similar awards from the national AIA for our coverage of architecture and the Historic Districts Council for our preservation reporting. While awards and recognition are always satisfying, what is most meaningful to us is that AN is providing compelling and useful information for our or broad and diverse readership.

Red Lights and Green Lights in Central Park

Captain Philip Wishnia, commander of the Central Park Precinct, went before the CB7’s Parks and Environment Committee on Monday night to explain the rash of speeding tickets being given to bicyclists in Central Park. Wishna said that the spike in ticketing is part of a larger citywide initiative to crack down on bikers before the weather warms up. Cyclists can expect tickets for speeding, going the wrong way, riding bikes on pathways and not coming to a complete stop at red lights. The captain pointed out that in 2008 there were 60 bike accidents, but in 2010 there were 122.  The ticket is a criminal court summons that can affect points on the biker’s drivers license and cost at least $270. At the moment, traffic lights in the park are timed for car traffic. Members of the board asked if there was any possibility to re-time the lights for off hours when cars are not permitted in the park, thereby allowing bikers a less interrupted ride. Doug Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy, was on hand for the meeting. He said re-timing the lights was not possible, pointing out that it would require re-programming every traffic light individually before and after rush hour, when  streets are opened to cars.  (The lights in Central Park are not controlled through one master panel). Another board member pressed for ticketing only the bicyclists that don’t yield at the light, rather than requiring them to come to a complete stop. But Wishna argued that constitutes selective enforcement, which was not an option. ... In other news, the folks at CB7 initially invited Blonsky along with Park Department representatives to discuss the future of Tavern on the Green. After the last RFP for running the famed restaurant fell through over union disputes, Parks called in the gourmet food trucks and turned the building into a temporary visitors center. The next round of RFPs will not begin until the summer season is well under way, which means the trucks and souped up t-shirt shop will stay through next October when their lease is up.  The parking lot will feature bike rental and riding lessons for the young ones. In any case, the community made one point clear: they don’t want the new place to become a high-end catering hall. Big, noisy events are out. Keeping a visitors center didn't generate intense opposition.  But the majority of speakers, both on the board and in the crowd, envisioned a more democratic cafe where neighbors of all income levels could join tourists for a bite during the day or night. Blonsky pulled out historic photos and intrigued the audience with another possibility: an entrance opening onto Central Park West. Bringing it back this entryway would help link the restaurant to the neighborhood.