Visions of a Grander Grand Army Plaza


One vision: Grand Army Plaza’s fountain and arch connected to Prospect Park.

The summary of the brainstorming done at last month’s placemaking workshop of the Grand Army Plaza Coalition (GAPco) is now available, and it’s full of rich possibilities for this vitally important yet underused space. Download the PDF here.

The DOT’s recently announced plans for pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly improvements give some official momentum to the effort to remake the plaza, but the GAPco report opens up a much broader range of possibilities for the plaza’s future. Those include everything from more benches to an expanded Greenmarket to "shake shack"-type food vendors.

This kind of creative, community-driven thinking could turn Grand Army Plaza from a disjointed sea of traffic into a well-integrated and vibrant public resource. It’s well worth reading the whole report, but here are some of the broad overall recommendations:

  • Conduct short-term improvements. Take the most feasible suggestions from the workshop and start experimenting. Start showing people the future of Grand Army Plaza can start now.
  • Close the gap. Connect the arch with Prospect Park by extending the entrance plaza to the arch (using paving, etc.).
  • Improve access to the plaza and connect it into a broader circulation system for pedestrians, bicyclists, automobiles and transit users. Balance the user needs.
  • Create clear pathways to the "center" across the berms. Create access (visual and/or pedestrian) through the berms. Sight lines and physical connection will increase presence and use of arch and fountain.
  • Relocate the "entrance" to Prospect Park to the north side of Grand Army Plaza. Create a symbolic entrance on the north side of the plaza that marks the beginning of Prospect Park at Grand Army Plaza. Treat this area as a part of the park rather than a traffic circle.
  • Connect the west berm area to the arch and fountain by converting the west side of  the inner circle from traffic lanes to a pedestrian plaza.
  • Partner with local institutions. For example, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden could display rotating horticultural displays, the library could host events in the plaza, and the zoo could partner with the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to host an event oriented to children in the plaza.
  • Formalize GAPco’s role as an advisor and manager of the public process.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Reinventing Grand Army Plaza: What Are Your Ideas?

|
The Grand Army Plaza Coalition (GAPCo) and the Design Trust for Public Space are launching an "Ideas Competition" called Reinventing Grand Army Plaza. Building on GAPCo’s on-going effort to re-envision this historic Brooklyn crossroads, the Ideas Competition will solicit new, creative proposals for Grand Army Plaza’s re-design. Top submissions will be exhibited in the summer […]

DOT Minds the GAP

|
With city workers pouring concrete in the background (and StreetFilms’ cameras rolling), New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced pedestrian and cyclist improvements for Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza yesterday. The plan calls for 11,000 square feet of new, landscaped pedestrian islands, a separated bike path, new crosswalks and pedestrian signals. The redesign […]

A Community Workshop to Re-envision Grand Army Plaza

|
All across the city neighborhood groups are coming together to re-envision and plan their own communities. In the last few months we’ve seen valuable community-planning processes taking place in Hell’s Kitchen, the Meatpacking District and, to a certain extent, along Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. People aren’t waiting around for real estate developers or city […]

What is Your Idea for Grand Army Plaza?

|
The Grand Army Plaza Coalition, which recently won a grant from the Design Trust for Public Spaces, has launched an Ideas Competition for its Reinventing Grand Army Plaza project. If you want to participate, answer the following questions in full sentences, and email your responses by the end of the week to survey@reinventingGAP.org. 1. What […]

Pedestrian-Friendly Changes for Grand Army Plaza

|
More public space for Grand Army Plaza: DOT says that it would give the street space highlighted in green to the Parks Department for use during public events and car-free hours in Prospect Park. Since the beginning of 2005 I have been helping to organize a group called the Grand Army Plaza Coalition. The group is focused on improving the pedestrian experience […]

StreetFilms: Reclaiming Grand Army Plaza

|
Reclaiming Grand Army Plaza A StreetFilm by Sean Clifford Running time: 5 minutes 40 seconds The Grand Army Plaza Coalition formed in the Spring of 2006 to begin to re-envision GAP as the great public space it was designed to be. A community-driven, grassroots project, GAPco is a prime example of how New York City’s […]