A Plan for Hudson Park

Hudson Park and Boulevard is a new 4-acre system of parks being created in New York. Landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates were selected to make their vision reality.

"'Our idea was to take the elements of Union Square and redeploy them so they would work on a long, linear site,' Matthew Urbanski, principal at MVVA, told AN. 'It's got a civic quality and a grand quality, and the plazas end up being these fantastic places that can support farmers' markets and impromptu gatherings.'

In some ways, the boulevard is a remnant of the city's quashed 2012 Olympics bid, once destined as a grand urban gesture leading to a stadium atop the railyards. Now, the city envisions residential and commercial towers stretching south from 42nd Street, where the project's flashiest element would be placed: a cable-stayed pedestrian bridge, designed with Mori's office and engineers Schlaich Bergermann, spanning the Lincoln Tunnel approach. The public space would then expand into what Urbanski called'"fluvially informed shapes,' with grassy areas surrounded by more densely planted, tree-lined sections along the boulevard. Plans also call for an entrance to the No. 7 subway extension between 33rd and 34th streets, with a domed glass canopy designed by Mori. The park would terminate within the Hudson Yards site, focusing on a yet-to-be-determined cultural center.

Full Story: Van Valkenburgh Takes the Boulevard



Hudson Yards Park Not Like Union Square

"Fluvially informed shapes" - I think modernist architects must be required to take a course in pretentious language.

Despite their claim, it is obvious when you look at the picture that this new park is not at all like Union Square and other traditional urban parks. The main difference is that it contains mounds, like the landscaping in a suburban office park, and also contains what seems to be an elevated pathway that creates a concrete wall cutting one part of the park off from the other.

Both of these things will create hidden areas in the park that will be magnets for crime: expect complaints as soon as the park opens. This design will work about as well as Robert Moses' remake of Bryant Park, which made that park invisible from the street and attracted crime.

Finally, think about what it will feel like to walk next to the blank concrete wall created by the elevated path, and ask yourself if they ever created anything like this in traditional parks like Union Square. It takes a modernist to design a chunk of concrete that is so artsy and so anti-human.

Charles Siegel

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