Park Slope Civic Council Names Prospect Park Gateway Design Comp Winners

The Third Street entrance to Prospect Park as imagined in the winning entry, "Stone Garden."

The Park Slope Civic Council announced the winners yesterday in its design competition for the Third Street entrance to Prospect Park, which has sported rickety metal barricades since it was closed to cars in April 2009.

In addition to designing a better gateway to the park, the entries had to be movable, to allow for emergency vehicle access. And they got points for feasibility: The winner could potentially serve as a template for Third Street and other entry points to the park.

“Stone Garden,” an entry from Jordan Yamada and Peter Zaharados, took the top prize in the competition. The stones would be set into recessed grooves and could be re-positioned to clear a path for emergency vehicles. The award announcement notes that Stone Garden appealed to the jury on several levels, but that “the design would likely be modified in its mechanical functions, if brought to prototype stage.” Operationally, those grooves (and the stones in the bikeway) could be problematic for passing pedestrians and cyclists.

“The Tree Grove,” an aluminum sculpture that would rotate on a central pivot, took the runner-up position, followed by the “Third Street Arches.” Follow the jump for renderings and see all the winning entries in this slideshow.

"The Tree Grove," by Kevin Dohn.
"Third Street Arches," by Ivan Himanen.
  • the critic(apology to Mel Brooks)

    Took two people to think of this? Others got it done alone. It’s a dirty. I know it’s dirty. Cover it up!

  • I don’t have any technical or aesthetic comments. But this looks a lot like a video game, or a game show.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Gee, it sure would be awesome to have big, sliding boulders in the middle of the PPW bike path.

    Did Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes come up with this concept?

  • Danny G

    Marty Babe,

    Just take one sliding boulder out and adjust the spacing by a few inches on the two surrounding the lanes and this plan is golden. Besides, more important than anything, this would be really fun to play with. Imagine that feeling you got when you realized that (SPOILER ALERT) not only could the cube in Astor Place move, but YOU could be the person that moves it. That is a good feeling, and this design can let other people feel it.

    It’s a genius hybrid of those glowing metal boulders down on Wall Street, and those chairs up on the High Line that (SPOILER ALERT II) you can roll back and forth on the rails.

    P.S. Apologies if I ruined anyone’s High Line or Cube experience.

  • mike

    Seriously, this is the best people could come up with?!

    So tired of all the gimmicks. This is a stately park entrance, not a friggin’ video game.

    And sorry, but boulders in the middle of the PPW bike lane ranks pretty low on the safety scale.

    DO OVER.

  • david

    this looks really dangerous. like, ‘people flying over handlebars and cracking skulls into ornamental stones,’ dangerous. but it is pretty…

  • Yeah I don’t want to sound bitter and closed-minded towards what I can only describe as “modern landscape architecture,” but there’s a time and place for everything, and it’s called the High Line. I don’t want to put Prospect Park, and others like it, under museum glass, but we should be modernizing them to fit the present-day reality of the city in such a way that respects the traditional grandeur and vision of these Olmstead and Vaux masterpieces.

  • Besides, more important than anything, this would be really fun to play with. Imagine that feeling you got when you realized that (SPOILER ALERT) not only could the cube in Astor Place move, but YOU could be the person that moves it.

    It would be a blast to play with these. I keep imagining an 18-month-old kid — his dad standing nearby texting on his Blackberry (read: me) — with his little foot stuck inside the sliding track, and a couple of rowdy 6-year-olds really having fun, obliviously sliding a boulder along the track toward the toddler’s soon-to-be-shattered ankle bones. Now that NYC playgrounds have eliminated the traditional seesaw due to injuries to kids, I’m sure they will be quick to introduce the Sliding Boulder Playground. Not.

    Granted, my mind has a tendency to leap toward worst case scenarios, particularly when it comes to physical threats to the offspring. I think this is the result of many generations of Shtetl in-breading and pogroms.

    I also keep thinking about someone biking along next to this thing and their tires falling into a groove and wiping out.

    I also keep thinking about an endorphin-drugged jogger running along, listening to his iPod, not looking down and crashing into a boulder.

    And, yes, I was on the jury committee that reviewed these designs.

    The good news is Methodist Hospital is only a couple of blocks away.

  • the critic(again)

    The response here is underwhelming.

    David: Dangerous is designed in all over; but, please point out the pretty for us, I certainly missed it.

  • StevenF

    Go back to square one with this boulder design rendering and wonder where the designers heads are at….

    Does anyone else notice that the landscrapers have placed the bicycle riders not in the bouldered and slotted bike lane, but smack in the middle of the sidewalk?

    After all the Storm und Drung over the new PPW bike lane, where one of the major reasons for it is to get cyclists off the sidewalk, one has to wonder if the designers have any idea of the situation they are designing for?
    “…yet allowing bicycle and pedestrian circulation to percolate through the augmented landscape.”
    Percolate? I percolate my coffee, and the image does resonate when strolling into the park, and it even may be the correct metaphor for cyclists entering and leaving the park – i.e. slowing and looking to cross the bike path and sidewalk, however, it’s a little weak when considering the operation of bicycles passing along the PPW path.

    Both the boulders and the slots are seriously intruding on what is actually a fairly narrow two way bike path. So much so that the designers put the bikes up on the much wider sidewalk. We want cyclists with their heads up looking for crossing pedestrians and cyclists, not with their heads down making sure they don’t crash into a boulder or a slot. The best way to allow cyclists to pay attention to what’s out in front of them is to provide a clear smooth pavement that they know is safe to ride over. Creating barriers to cyclist movement only forces the rider to concentrate on the barrier and ignore what’s coming behind it. Bad idea.

    If this concept is going to fly, the boulders have to be located well clear of the PPW bike path and the track system has to be utterly flush. Any longitudinal slot or edge will catch a bicycle wheel and throw over the bike – just as crossing railroad or trolley tracks. A slot is also a hazard to handicapped walkers, wheelchairs, baby stroller and small kids on riding toys.

    As far as keeping out car traffic, even when the boulders are pushed into the open position, the opening should not look inviting to a driver coming up 3rd St or turning from PPW. I’m not sure if this does that well enough. There are installations using planters and barriers that still leave enough real space for emergency vehicle entry and safe bicycle flow, yet look closed to public car traffic. The sliding stones look like fun, but they and their tracks can’t overwhelm the “critical path.”

  • Henry

    I really do not see why the rocks and grooves have to extend into both the sidewalk and the bike lane. Was that really necessary?
    Also, wouldn’t it be cheaper to raise the pavement in front of the entrance to sidewalk level? The sidewalk would look continuous, the cars would not go in because it doesn’t look like a street, the bike lane is undisturbed, and I’m pretty sure that ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars can mount the curb. Everybody wins!

  • Brent

    What happens when my bicycle wheels get caught in a slot? Or are they wide and shallow enough to escape easily?

  • Marcia Kramer’s Eyebrow

    How about something simple and affordably cheap like just ripping up all the asphalt and planting a strip of green?

  • MinNY

    I like it – there are easily solvable design issues with the tracks on the bicycle path (move them off of it for safety reasons) but it seems like a nice way to extend the park beyond the formal edge of the park – sort of like a welcome mat extending out onto the street.

    That said, I really like the “third street arches” proposal.

  • kapes

    How about narrowing it and putting in retractable bollards and some plants?

    why do we have to over think this stuff so much?

  • The problem with these design competitions is that when nobody comes up with a really good design, they still have to name someone the winner and then feel obligated to implement the winning design. That’s what seemed to have happened with the new bike rack competition where the winner was less desirable than the bike racks already in place.

    Maybe it’s time to actually commission experienced architects who are experienced in creating livable designs that aren’t likely to cause law suits and actually fulfills the function it was designed for in a safe manner that takes into consideration all the needs of parkgoers.

    Also, love the way they depict cyclists riding on the sidewalk instead of using the bike lane.

  • Georgia

    I think this idea really gives the park entrance something unique without taking away from the surroundings and the monuments. It seems to me it reflects the feeling you get at a Japanese rock garden. Sometimes, less is more. Any design can be improved when actually getting down to building it, working out all the codes, etc,. Aside from that, seems to work in actually keeping vehicles away.

  • Ben

    Very nice!…I could definitely see these in white carrara marble!..reminscent of a modern chess or go set! With a little green this would very beautiful!

  • BrooklynNative

    Not only do they not want any cars entering the park from 3rd Street, they clearly don’t want to make it easy for bikes to enter the park at that location, too. Ya gotta be kidding… is this a bicycle obstacle course?

    Also, while traffic won’t be using this entrance, emergency vehicles still have to be able to enter the park from 3rd Street. How does this desiginer proposing fire trucks and ambulances get over the boulders?

    Stupid stupid stupid design thinking

  • I would rank them:

    (1) The Tree Grove. I adore the Art Nouveau elegance. I wish we could see a photorealistic rendering of it.

    (2) Third Street Arches. Attractive and practical.

    (3) Stone Garden. Love the Zen feel and the interactive aspects, but the safety issues raised by the rocks and grooves that others have mentioned make me wonder how practical this solution is.

  • ArchiCraptistic Rockatecture

    This movable rock set gimmick is a total non-starter. This is the entrance to one of the great parks of the world, not a Tokyo mall. Along with being aesthetically wrong, it’s also dangerous, and will require expensive maintenance. It’s an unattractive nuisance. People and nature will put crap in the tracks that has to be removed. The ultimate winner will be a narrow path with a mountable curb and some landscaping, something akin to the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park.

  • “Also, while traffic won’t be using this entrance, emergency vehicles still have to be able to enter the park from 3rd Street. How does this desiginer proposing fire trucks and ambulances get over the boulders?”

    I presume that’s why the boulders are slideable. In case of emergency FDNY should stop their truck and ambulances, get out and slide the barriers to either side. Maybe they should equip each emergency vehicle with a track-cleaning brush to sweep away and leaves that might accumulate in the track. Just imagine how much that could add to response time.

  • The best way to allow cyclists to pay attention to what’s out in front of them is to provide a clear smooth pavement that they know is safe to ride over.

  • This just released!

    Another design for the Gateway (and it doesn’t involve rocks or bolders)! It fulfills all the requirements of the brief including bike lanes and emergency vehicle access.

    “The Prospect”

    It’s scaleable and can be easily deployed for the given budget of $2,000. It’s polished stainless steel to get the mirror finish (which is also graffiti proof).

    check it out and let us know what you think!




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