Gone will be the miniature civic history lessons that punctuated ribbon-cutting speeches made by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. With yesterday’s announcement that the commissioner is moving on to the non-profit Trust for Public Land (TPL), the plaudits are pouring in. But as the Bloomberg Administration begins is slow-motion wind down, New Yorkers should be wary of comparisons to the “good” Robert Moses, builder of parks and playgrounds, despite the scale of public works undertaken under Bloomberg. But in terms of Parks, there is little doubt that Benepe’s tenure was historic in scope.
Now, one of the mayor’s signature initiatives—that a park be within a ten minute walk from every home—is about to go national. But will what flies in NYC fly in Louisville? “If I’ve learned one or two things in this job it’s that no one model will work for every situation,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
With just a year and a half left of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure remaining, the first of his major appointees, New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, is moving on. Under Benepe, the Parks Department was transformed on a scale that approached the early tenure of Robert Moses. Since his appointment in 2002, the commissioner oversaw the largest expansion of waterfront parks like Brooklyn Bridge Park, embraced public-private partnerships as seen on the High Line, and distributed more than $250 million in Croton Water Filtration funds to small pocket parks throughout the Bronx.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation sent out an RFP for a forward thinking urban farmer to run a 200,000 square foot rooftop farm atop one of the city’s major food distribution centers at 600 Food Center Drive in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. Talk about cutting out the middleman. Once harvested the veggies merely have to make the trip downstairs and down the street for distribution at the City’s 329-acre Food Distribution Center.
The reviews are in and now it’s time to book a ticket and check out the new Barnes Foundation museum in Philadelphia designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. I took a road trip over the weekend and was struck by the amount of texture and richness of the materials used throughout. The carved limestone, deep wood tones, and burlap seem to take cues from Barnes’ superb African mask collection. Regardless of where one comes down on the controversial move to the Ben Franklin Parkway, there is no denying the level of detail and workmanship that went into the project.
It would seem that the the once humble blue stone, quarried in New York State, is getting some renewed respect. We recently saw it cleverly cladding 41 Bond by the design-build firm DDG Partners, now artist Nobuho Nagasawa it calling attention to it underfoot in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Nagasawa’s installation elevates an everyday visual experience to the level of art, namely tree shadows on a Brooklyn blue stone sidewalk.
Facebook was aflame this morning with new renderings by HWKN (Hollwich Kushner) for Fire Island’s notorious Pavilion, the entertainment complex that burned down last November. In January, it was reported in The New York Times that Diller Scofidio + Renfro were signed on to do the master plan for the marina, of which the Pavilion sits at the center and serves as the social hub.