Michael Van Valkenburgh (MVVA)’s vision for Buffalo’s expansive new waterfront park has finally been unveiled. Stretching 92 acres along the shore of Lake Erie, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park will be a verdant hub of cultural and recreational activity that connects downtown Buffalo to the city’s Lakeview neighborhood. Designed in collaboration with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the organization that donated $50 million towards the project, the park is a major beautification effort for the City of Buffalo. The foundation worked alongside MVVA, the city government, as well as the University at Buffalo Regional Institute over the last two years to engage different communities surrounding the existing 77-acre LaSalle Park—the landscape that the new project will overtake—to create a new and dynamic playspace for the lakeside city. MVVA’s initial aerial renderings reveal multiple shifts in the topography throughout the site, which, as it exists today, is fairly flat to accommodate straight views as well as room for sports. In a former interview, Van Valkenburgh told AN that this flatness would generally remain in the firm’s design proposal because “there’s a kind of wonderful, almost magical concept of playing at the edge of a lake,” he said. “At the same time, we’ll likely want to add some topography to the landscape to allow people to get to a higher level over the water to see Buffalo’s famous sunsets.” In keeping with the original functions of LaSalle Park, the upgraded landscape will include many baseball and soccer fields, as well as pools, playgrounds, and promenades with those uninhibited views of Lake Erie. Large-scale lawns, reminiscent of those found in Brooklyn Bridge Park, will also be integrated into the design so that families can picnic, play frisbee, or go sledding during Buffalo’s snowy winter. In addition, the design team has proposed what appears to be a peninsula built of terraced rocks where Buffalo residents can connect directly with the water—something the old park was lacking according to Van Valkenburgh. While this first set of visuals showcases the size and scope of the park project, it doesn’t yet include details on where or how these topographic changes will occur. However, a key component of the plan is that the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park will enhance the landscape directly surrounding the city’s historic pumping station (to the northwest of the park), as well as extend a branch of parkland across Interstate I-90, connecting into Lakeview. Van Valkenburgh said he plans to create some sort of noise buffer around the roadway to keep a peaceful tone within the landscape. Right now, a large-scale model of the landscape design is touring the city and locals can view the vision up close. On Thursday, it’s heading to the LaSalle Park Pool Building.
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An extension to the park running through New York City's Hudson Yards development could become the most expensive park per acre in the history of the city. As Crain's reported last week, the new section of Hudson Park and Boulevard will cost $125 million per acre. The extension will cost $374 million total. For reference, the city's next most expensive parks per acre were Bushwick Inlet Park at $54 million per acre, and the High Line at $36 million per acre. The sky-high cost is apparently a result of real estate prices. The city has to buy all of the property from private owners, and it will have to cover sunken railroad tracks that run under the site. The park lies between 10th and 11th Avenues and currently runs between 33rd and 36th Streets. The extension will go up to 39th Street. Hudson Yards, which calls itself "the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States," covers 14 acres of Manhattan's West Side, covering former rail yards with almost 20 million square feet of retail, office, and residential space. The first phase of the development, which includes towers designed by DS+R, SOM, and KPF around a public sculpture by Heatherwick Studio, is nearing completion, and some of the spaces are already occupied. Residences in the development are largely for the super-affluent, and the neighborhood more generally is booming with construction catering to the city's wealthiest. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates designed the park spaces, which extend northward through the center of the development's site. The relatively-straightforward design creates a central "greenway and boulevard" with a mix of paving, fountains, and plantings. The park's extremely high cost has come under criticism as the rest of the city's park system has struggled to find funding for basic maintenance and operations. A report earlier this year painted a dire picture of the NYC Parks Department being underfunded and overburdened. The city's Community Parks Initiative, an effort to upgrade 65 parks across the city, has a budget of $318 million, less than what the city will spend on the Hudson Boulevard Park expansion.
On Sunday, September 13th, New York City got its first new subway station in 25 years. Located at 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue, the 34th St-Hudson Yards station extended the 7 train one and a half miles to serve Manhattan's Far West Side. Dattner Architects designed the 364,000 square foot, $2.4 billion station. The new station is ten stories underground, and features the subway system's first inclined elevator. Below the canopied main entrance, designed by Toshiko Mori Architect, a multicolored mosiac mural by artist Xenobia Bailey greets passengers. MVVA designed the park surrounding the main entrance. See the gallery below for images of the new station.