Brooklyn's Gowanus neighborhood is considering a massive rezoning right now, but a group of Parsons students have come up with amazing designs for what they hope someday will be a park on Public Place, a six-acre vacant lot along the west side of the canal.
Gowanus Lands is a community-led proposal to create a natural parkland for public use between Huntington Street and Fifth Street—a formal industrial site that is now a vacant, city-owned parcel of land.
The Public Place site was protected by the city in 1974 for open space and recreational use, but it's been vacant since then because of pollution that came from the gas plant that used to be there. The National Grid is currently conducting a site cleanup.
Gowanus Lands is currently raising $5,000 on gofundme to commission a professional public opinion poll to see if there is community interest in creating a neighborhood park. Once it has the results, it will share them with the city's planning department and local elected officials so that planning for park can begin.
"We really appreciated the opportunity to partner with the students at the Parsons School of Design to create renderings of the park," Gowanus Lands told us in a statement. "The design concepts were creative and beautiful, and provided some great new ideas for open space at the site. In particular, we were struck by how the students were thoughtful about the interaction of open space, water and light at the sight, and how a park with these elements can help bring people in the community together."
The students—Sharon Chen, Yujun Jiang, Qingyi Li and Sarah Lee—have come up with incredible designs for a beautiful park that includes a semi-enclosed glass waterfront walkway, a colorful raised central pavilion, dedicated space for food trucks, a hedge maze, and smooth seating pebbles that will warm in the sun and cool in shadow.
Students Nora Zhang, Zhou Xia and Yichan Wang imagined a park accessible for kids, similar to the Washington Square Park fountain, with curved and tiered terrace steps leading to a waterfront boardwalk.
Students Zisiga Mukulu, Whitt Sellers, Nina Wang, and Shuhao Liu designed a water-facing community amphitheater with "floating diamond" steel sculptural elements and raised forest pods.
What do you think?
The Gowanus Canal is not exactly the first spot you'd think of to put a public park—its toxic pollution is still a big problem and can be witnessed on a daily basis, not just when it gets dredged (and full cars are pulled out from its murky bottom). The EPA's planned cleanup or containment is going to take many years. Even so, developers are lobbying for a zoning change that would allow up to 30-story buildings to be constructed there, which is also a flood zone. The hope is to bring in some affordable residential apartments on Public Place, the same land that some neighbors want to put this public park. Making it a park would "help address a critical shortage of quality public open green space in the neighborhood," the group says.
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