Posts tagged with "Grand Army Plaza":

Placeholder Alt Text

Giant, inflatable dome will host a week-long Democracy Lab at the Brooklyn Public Library this summer

From June 11-17, an inflatable bubble that can fit more than one hundred people will rise at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to house the week-long Democracy Lab. The lab is organized by the Brooklyn Public Library, in partnership with Prospect Park Alliance, Storefront for Art & Architecture, and visitBerlin, and will feature workshops and talks on social justice and civic engagement by established community members of Brooklyn and greater New York. The dome, dubbed the Spacebuster, is designed and developed by raumlaborberlin, a collective of eight Berlin-based architects. It was first commissioned by Storefront for Art and Architecture in 2009 in New York City. The giant dome hatches in the back of a delivery van. People can enter into the space through the passenger door of the van, then walk through to the dome down a ramp. A fan under the ramp generates the air pressure. The Spacebuster is a not only a backdrop for events but also actively participates in them. The translucent membrane acts as a blurred boundary, so pedestrians can look into the events happening inside the billowing urban room. Images can be projected onto the membrane and can be viewed both from the outside and the inside. It can also accommodate tables and chairs, depending on the program taking place inside. Democracy Lab will feature workshops and talks by The New Yorker writer Rachel Aviv, The Simpsons show-runner and writer Mike Reiss and daily guided readings of The New York Times led by community leaders and writers such as the paper’s own critic Wesley Morris, among others. To see the full calendar of scheduled events, check out this link.
Placeholder Alt Text

Before & After> 25 of New York City’s Most Transformative Road Diets

[beforeafter]dot_changes_16b dot_changes_16a[/beforeafter] New York City has been adjusting to its new Mayor Bill De Blasio, who took office at the beginning of the year. The new mayor has been slowly revealing his team of commissioners who will guide the city's continued transformation. As AN has noted many times before, De Blasio's predecessor Michael Bloomberg and his team already left a giant mark on New York's built environment. With little more than paint, planters, and a few well-placed boulders, Bloomberg and former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan's street interventions have been some of the most evident changes around the city. Whether it's at Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza, above, or at Snøhetta's redesigned Times Square, these road diets shaved off excess space previously turned over to cars and returned it to the pedestrian realm in dramatic fashion as these before-and-after views demonstrate. As we continue to learn more about our new Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, take a look back at 25 of the most exciting road diets and pedestrian plaza conversions across New York City from the Bloomberg era. [beforeafter]dot_changes_02adot_changes_02b[/beforeafter] Location: Allen and Pike Streets in the Lower East Side. [beforeafter]dot_changes_01bdot_changes_01a[/beforeafter] Location: Holland Tunnel Area. [beforeafter]dot_changes_22bdot_changes_22a[/beforeafter] Location: St. Nicholas Avenue & Amsterdam Avenue. [beforeafter]dot_changes_03bdot_changes_03a[/beforeafter] Location: Allen and Pike Street in the Lower East Side. [beforeafter]dot_changes_14bdot_changes_14a[/beforeafter] Location: Harlem River Park Gateway. [beforeafter]dot_changes_11bdot_changes_11a[/beforeafter] Location: Herald Square. [beforeafter]dot_changes_13adot_changes_13b[/beforeafter] Location: Harlem River Park Gateway. [beforeafter]dot_changes_10b dot_changes_10a[/beforeafter] Location: Broadway at Times Square. [beforeafter]dot_changes_04bdot_changes_04a[/beforeafter] Location: 12th Avenue West at 135th Street. [beforeafter]dot_changes_05bdot_changes_05a[/beforeafter] Location: Holland Tunnel Area. [beforeafter]dot_changes_06bdot_changes_06a[/beforeafter] Location: Louis Nine Boulevard. [beforeafter]dot_changes_07bdot_changes_07a[/beforeafter] [beforeafter]dot_changes_08adot_changes_08b[/beforeafter] Location: Delancey Street in the Lower East Side. [beforeafter]dot_changes_09adot_changes_09b[/beforeafter] Location: Prospect Park West. [beforeafter]dot_changes_12bdot_changes_12a[/beforeafter] Location: Broadway at Times Square. [beforeafter]dot_changes_15adot_changes_15b[/beforeafter] Location: Broadway & West 71st Street. [beforeafter]dot_changes_17bdot_changes_17a[/beforeafter] Location: Union Square. [beforeafter]dot_changes_18bdot_changes_18a[/beforeafter] Location: Columbus Avenue. [beforeafter]dot_changes_19adot_changes_19b[/beforeafter] Location: Union Square. [beforeafter]dot_changes_20adot_changes_20b[/beforeafter] Location: Water and Whitehall Streets. [beforeafter]dot_changes_21adot_changes_21b[/beforeafter] Location: Union Square. [beforeafter]dot_changes_23adot_changes_23b[/beforeafter] Location: Randall and Leggett Ave. [beforeafter]dot_changes_24adot_changes_24b[/beforeafter] Location: Grand Army Plaza at the entrance to Brooklyn's Prospect Park.   [beforeafter]dot_changes_25adot_changes_25b[/beforeafter] Location: Hoyt Avenue at the RFK Bridge. All photos courtesy New York City Department of Transportation.
Placeholder Alt Text

Pedestrians First at Grand Army Plaza

Brooklyn's grandest public space at the top of Prospect Park has always been a work in progress. Grand Army Plaza, an oval-shaped public space composed of monuments ringed by an inner and an outer roadway, was built as the main entrance to the park in 1866, serving as a buffer between nature and city and happened to be the confluence of some of Brooklyn's busiest avenues. Over the years, a monumental archway was added, fountains came and went, and eventually the roads were widened until the lush plaza was effectively cut off from the surrounding Prospect Heights and Park Slope neighborhoods. Last week, however, after months of construction to tame the out-of-control roadways, a group of civic leaders and officials gathered in what was once a busy street to celebrate the newly reclaimed plaza. NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan praised the transformation of the intersection into a real multi-modal space.  She said the changes to Grand Army Plaza are "an incredible invitation into the plaza to appreciate a landmark in a new way." The transformation is not just a boon for pedestrians and cyclists, she continued, but for motorists as well, noting that automobile behaviors have been streamlined and simplified through the oval by new medians and pedestrian islands to reduce merging conflicts. Similar to interventions across the city that shave off unused or excess pavement from roadways to be reallocated to pedestrians, the NYC Department of Transportation has created 71,000 square feet—or about 1.5 acres—of new pedestrian space at Grand Army Plaza. New landscaped pedestrian islands at the plaza's north side (above) help to route traffic more efficiently while shortening the distance pedestrians must cross to get to the park. At the south side (below), a vast swath of asphalt between the Soldier's and Sailor's Arch and the rest of the plaza has been paved with a light-colored gravel and lined with white granite boulders to officially keep traffic out. A similar treatment was put in place at the gates of Prospect Park where weekend Greenmarkets traditionally take place. New pedestrian islands, a large new crosswalk leading directly into the park, and a dedicated bike lane folllowing the Plaza Street loop complete the picture. Grand Army Plaza has been notoriously dangerous. In the late 1920s the plaza featured a large billboard called the "Death-o-Meter" (below) displaying the traffic injuries and fatalities in Brooklyn to promote safer driving in the area. Grassroots efforts to transform Grand Army Plaza into a pedestrian-friendly environment began in 2006 with the formation of the Grand Army Plaza Coalition (GAPCo) comprised of concerned citizens and organizations including the Project for Public Spaces. The coalition gathered widespread community input on how to improve the space producing a design by architect Jan Gehl in 2006 and eventually working with DOT to make their plans reality. In 2008, a design competition with the Design Trust for Public Space garnered inspiring proposals on how to rethink the urban tangle, with most results calling for a radical overhaul of the traffic circle. Plans were finalized during the contentious battle over the nearby Prospect Park West bike lane, but Sadik-Khan told AN the controversy did not affect the designs at Grand Army Plaza. Still, one component—a two-directional protected bike lane along Plaza Street, which creates the outer oval, that was approved in 2010 by community boards 6 and 8—was withheld from plans presented the spring. StreetsBlog pointed out at the time that the lane wasn't fully eliminated, but delayed after some residents were concerned about traffic. "I'm happy with the way the project evolved," said Sadik-Khan. "Adding 1.5 acres of new public space at the crossroads of Brooklyn is an incredible asset." "Over the past 50 years, the plaza has tipped to more street. We tipped it back to pedestrians," said Robert Witherwax, coordinator of GAPCo. "In terms of getting pedestrians into the plaza, it's genius, simple, elegant, and it works." The changes represent NYCDOT's budget approach to creating new public space quickly. A coat of gravel and paint is much more affordable than a completely new streetscape and can be fulfilled much faster. Witherwax said the next step is to program the new space, which could include new events and outfitting the plaza with furniture. "We have a treasury of ideas," he said. "We're making a part of the park useful that wasn't before."
Placeholder Alt Text

HIGHLIGHT> Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads

Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads Pulitzer Fountain, Grand Army Plaza 60th Street & 5th Avenue New York Through July 15 Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza has been overrun with a menagerie of sorts: the installation of Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads. This is the first major public exhibition in America for the Chinese artist. This site specific installation is a modern reinterpretation of the 18th century Yuanming Yuan fountain-clock that featured 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac spouting water. With this project, Ai explores the “fake” in relation to the original sculptures (which were ultimately pillaged by French and British troops in 1860; five of the original heads are still missing). In this version, 12 oversized bronze animal heads ring the Pulitzer Fountain, each weighing approximately 800 pounds. While this project explores some rather esoteric themes, it is accessible and “a work that everyone can understand, including children and people who are not in the art world,” said Ai, who collaborated with Herzog & de Meuron on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics.