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Prospect Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, December 23, 2013

LeFrak Center Ice Rink Debuts At Prospect Park

Photo by Malcolm Pinckney

On Tuesday, December 17, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White and President of the Prospect Park Alliance Emily Lloyd unveiled the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center, a year-round skating and recreational facility in Prospect Park and opened 26 newly restored acres of the park.

The LeFrak Center is home to two rinks for ice skating, roller skating and swimming and public amenities including a café and event space. The new facility represents the second and final phase of a 26-acre, $74-million restoration and redesign of an underutilized section of Prospect Park, known as the Lakeside section. The largest and most ambitious capital project in Prospect Park since the 19th century, the restoration restores the original Olmsted-Vaux vision and adds an additional eight acres of usable space. The Mayor was also joined at the opening by Borough President Marty Markowitz, Assembly Member Jim Brennan, Council Members Brad Lander and Mathieu Eugene, LeFrak CEO Richard LeFrak, project architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.

The LeFrak Center includes two rinks, one covered and one uncovered. Each rink can accommodate 450 skaters and can be connected, allowing people to skate between them. In addition to public skating, the rinks will be available for rental for hockey leagues and private events. The facility replaces the 50-year old Wollman Skating Rink that was previously only open four months during the year. Construction on the LeFrak Center, which is managed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, began in November 2010, while the entire 26-acre restoration began in October 2009.

The project was designed by famed Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, together with the Prospect Park Alliance’s lead landscape architect Christian Zimmerman. Constructed of rough-hewn green granite, the building blends seamlessly into the natural topography of Prospect Park to create an active urban space coupled with modern amenities. Pathways around the facility bring visitors up to a green roof where a terrace overlooks the rinks and the lake beyond.

The environmentally-friendly qualities of the site include: the open-air design of the rinks; a high efficiency ammonia refrigeration system which will significantly reduce year round-energy needs; landscaped buildings, including a green roof; and the installation of a 15,000-gallon cistern, which will ensure that all stormwater in the 26-acre Lakeside area is captured and re-used for parkland irrigation.

Phase 1 of the Lakeside project included the re-creation of Music Island and the Esplanade, two elements that were part of the original design for the space and were dismantled with the construction of the Wollman Rink in 1960. Some of the key features beyond the rebuilt and restored Music Island included improved pedestrian pathways, expanded picnic areas, walkways and open lawns, a new promenade along the lakeshore for walkers and joggers, a new boat dock, a café and a seating area open all year. Phase 1 was completed in October of 2012.

The Lakeside project exemplifies the success that a public-private partnership can bring in making a great park greater, having been funded through a mix of public and private dollars. Roughly $54 million in public funding for the project was allocated by City, State and Federal officials, including over $46 million from the City. The Prospect Park Alliance raised the remaining $20 million from donors, foundations and corporations, including $10 million from the Leon Levy Foundation.

In addition, following a $10 million donation from the LeFrak family in November, the Prospect Park Alliance and the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation announced that the rink would be named the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside. This funding will go toward the maintenance and upkeep of Lakeside and the surrounding areas of the Prospect Park.

Entry to Lakeside is free and open to the public, with an admission fee associated with skating and skating-related services. Hours, admission and skate prices, educational opportunities, and other basic information can be found at The LeFrak Center will be operated by Upsilon Ventures, following a request for proposals process that commenced in 2012.


"If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor."

Albert Einstein
(1879 - 1955)

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