Project of the Month March'01
VAN CORTLANDT PARK-FAIRWAY PLAYGROUND & COMFORTSTATION
JIM MITUZAS: Landscape Architecture, Project Manager
RICH ROBBINS: Architecture, Comfort Station Design
ALEX FAKAYODE: Engineering, Plumbing
MICHAEL ENITAN: Engineering, Electrical
JASON OCHARSKY: Engineering, Heating & Ventilation
SUSAN ELLIS: Specs & Estimating
Funding: This $1.6 million project is funded by DEP as mitigation funds for the proposed water filtration facility to be located just north of the playground on the Mosholu Golf Course.
Location: The SE corner of Van Cortlandt Park, at the intersection of West Gun Hill Road & Jerome Avenue, in the Bronx.
Surrounding Land Use: The project area is bounded on the north by the Mosholu Golf Course, on the west by Van Cortlandt Park, and on the east by Jerome Ave. The elevated #4 train runs in a north-south direction along Jerome Ave. To the south and east lie the residential neighborhoods of Norwood & Bedford Park.
Site History: Van Cortlandt Park currently comprises 1146 acres. The idea for the park originated in 1881 with John Mullaly, who organized a group of citizens to lobby for the purchase of land parcels for the creation of city parks and parkways. Despite powerful opposition, the state legislature authorized the appropriate funding, and Van Cortlandt Park was instituted in 1889.
In 1914, the Mosholu Golf Links were constructed in the southeast corner of the park. Between 1934 and 1960, the park was developed under Commissioner Robert Moses. In 1947, Moses proposed the building of the Major Deegan Expressway through the park, over the opposition of conservationists, and in 1948, the Mosholu Golf Links was redesigned to accommodate the construction of the expressway. Moses also oversaw the completion of the Mosholu Parkway extension through the park. In 1989, the Parks Department took away 2 fairways at the southeast corner of the golf course to give the adjacent neighborhoods 21 open green acres of parkland.
Fairway playground creates an exciting new entrance to Van Cortlandt Park for the neighborhoods of Norwood and Bedford Park. The park visitor is carried through an allee of American Elms from the entrance to the park at the corner of Jerome Avenue & West Gunhill Road, to the front of the new comfort station. At the comfort station's entrance, new gravel pathways extend to the left and right that lead to the neighborhood of Norwood and the last stop of the number 4 train. These paths help to improve the park's east-west internal pedestrian circulation, which was interrupted in the 1950s by the creation of the Mosholu Parkway and the Major Deegan Expressway.
The comfort station is clad with Corinthian granite set in a random ashlar pattern, and its roof is covered with a pink and gray slate. The visitor steps through the arched central breezeway and is transported to a golf themed playland. At the center of the play area proudly stands a tall water spraying flag representing the "pin", flaunting the number "19" and claiming this spray shower green as the 19th hole. The green is made of colored concrete that is surrounded by amorphously shaped white concrete sand traps. Ground sprays explode out of the green's surface as if there was a blowout in the golf course's irrigation system.
Behind the spray shower is a large piece of play equipment that mimics the overall elliptical shape of the playground, and on either side of the spray shower is a giant golf club and ball set. The golf clubs are 20' long, one being a wood and the other an iron, and the oversized golf balls are 3' in diameter and bear the inscription, "Mosholu 4." These golf clubs and balls function as balance beams and creative climbing apparatuses for the children as they play on land that was once 2 golf course fairways.