Union Square Park
Long one of the city's great public spaces, Union Square Park is known to New Yorkers both as a stage for historic events and a hub for daily activity. Originally opened in 1839, renovations to Union Square Park have been ongoing since 1986. The first phase rebuilt the area south of 16th Street, creating new, redesigned paths and new lighting. In 2002, the second phase reconstructed and expanded the park's southeastern triangle and southwest border. The third and final phase, called the North End Project, will redevelop and expand the outdated playgrounds, rehabilitate the historic Pavilion, and redesign the north plaza to support Greenmarket farmers and greater use of parkland. Construction began in spring 2008 and is expected to be complete in winter 2010.
North End Project: Restoration of the Plaza, Playground and Pavilion
Completed in September 2009, the plaza was elevated to sidewalk level with new hexagonal block paving and curbing. The hex–block design uses contrasting tones to create a large–scale geometric pattern on the plaza. Trees with protective bollards were placed along 17th Street and Union Square West. Every other bollard contains an electric power feed for use by the Green Market in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases emitted through the use of generators. The Holiday Market and the Green Market were in continuous operation on this site during the construction.
Completed in October 2009, the new playground area was created by demolishing the two small playgrounds in the northern end of the park and combining the area into one continuous space. The new area at the west end offers a new tot lot, swings and a sandbox. Located in the middle are two slides, various play equipment and a spray shower, climaxing with the big tunnel slide and a climbing and sliding dome on the east side for older youth.
All areas are accessible from the north plaza and from the 16th Street transverse. Access is obtained via the stairs north of the Lincoln statue or via a ramp at the southwest corner of the playground. The key concept for this unique playground is to surround the kids with a wrap of green space and tall trees. A restroom facility with men's, women's and family restrooms was constructed on the playground's northeast corner. Men's and women's restrooms are accessible from the plaza, while the family restroom will have dedicated access from the playground.
This limestone and colonnaded open air pavilion is currently undergoing complete restoration, and a much needed comfort station accessible from the north plaza will be placed at the east end. As with all restroom facilities, this comfort station will be ADA compliant.
An elevator and three sets of stairs will provide access to the Pavilion level and the basement level. A future concessionaire will be housed in the basement level, to be chosen from a careful and public RFP process. The Pavilion and new comfort station addition will glow at night, a needed beacon of new services and an amenity that will serve the citizens of New York City for decades. The restoration of the Pavilion is anticipated to be complete in winter 2010.