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Columbus Park

The Daily Plant : Thursday, July 22, 2004

DOWNTOWN DESIGN WINS CITYWIDE PRIZE

The New York City Art Commission honored Parks & Recreation’s Design and Construction plans for the re-construction of Columbus Park. The design was one of eight City projects to win awards for design excellence. The award-winning design team, headed by Hui Mei Grove, RLA, was recognized on July 12 by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Joyce Frank Menschel, President of the Art Commission, at the 22nd Annual Art Commission Awards, held at the Brooklyn Museum.

The winning design will restore the northern half of Columbus Park, located in the Chinatown community and bounded by Baxter, Worth, Bayard, and Mulberry Streets. The City Department of Transportation will assist in the park’s reconstruction, narrowing adjacent Baxter Street so that Parks & Recreation can expand the park’s seating area and green space. The entire area will be re-landscaped to create a smooth transition between the ballfield and the historic pavilion, which will also be reconstructed. Currently closed to the public, the pavilion will be rebuilt as a handicapped-accessible comfort station. The park’s plans incorporate fencing, stone walls, and path perimeters inspired by Chinese scholar gardens, as well as bamboo plantings and decorative grasses. The light posts are ornamented with dragon heads and include hooks for the bird cages that patrons often bring with them to the park. The park is a popular lunch spot for office workers from the nearby courthouses, a gathering place for a quick game of mondj, and shady spot to escape the summer heat.

"Under Commissioner Benepe’s leadership, Parks & Recreation has re-committed itself to design excellence, both in historic preservation and contemporary design," said Deputy Commissioner for Capital Projects Amy Freitag. "Our new Chief of Design has worked with our design staff and encouraged them to explore new aesthetics and palettes. These awards are the fruit of the Capital Division’s collective efforts."

Columbus Park’s winning design team was lead by the recently retired Hui Mei Grove and consisted of Landscape Architects Bill Gotthelf, George Bloomer, Allan Scholl, Doug Nash, and Dennis Flynn; Deputy Director of Specifications and Estimating Susan Coker; Specification Writer Ruby Wei; Environmental Engineer Tohamy Bahr; Electrical Engineer Magary Aime; Structural Engineer Reza Mashayekhi; Surveyors Sandy Wansley, Richard Berry, Geoffrey Lawrence, and Dominic Cusumano; and Assistant Director of Manhattan Construction Vincent Macaluso. Dewberry & Goodkind, Inc. provided the project’s consultant engineers.

The Art Commission’s annual awards are presented as part of the Mayor’s "Design and Construction Excellence Initiative," with the goal of encouraging City agencies to strive for excellence in design for public works large and small. The initiative outlines new ways to contract with designers in order to secure the most creative team for City-funded projects. Most importantly, the initiative considers the long-term operating and maintenance savings that can be gained from emphasizing merit in design.

Written by Hannah Gersen

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"Mendacem oportet esse memorem--A liar must be good at remembering."

Marcus Fabius Quintilianus
(c. 35-95 A.D.)

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