Park gets down to brass tracks with new Third Street entrance

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Never mind the bollards — these ones roll away!

Movable granite blocks could one day protect a gateway to Prospect Park, that is, if city officials feel the same way about the design as the Park Slope Civic Council.

The civic group last night chose a plan by architects Jordan Yamada and Peter Zaharatos to beautifully secure the Third Street and Prospect Park West entryway with an iconic design befitting the lush park.

The design, called “Stone Garden,” features 12 granite “megaliths” set into shallow parallel brass tracks. The stones will sit atop roller bearings, and can be moved to prohibit cars entering the park, but also arrayed so that pedestrians and cyclists may pass.

“The idea is to make it a meditative space that respects its surroundings, Zaharatos said.

The inspiration for the design came from sailing stones, a geological phenomenon where rocks glide along a desert or valley floor, leaving an eerie trail behind.

The inspiration clealry did not come from recent efforts to secure public spaces with grotesque and intrusive blast fences or massive bollards, most notoriously at the Long Island Rail Road’s Atlantic Terminal, where a ring of granite sarcophagi protects commuters and appalls aesthetes.

Yamada said that his and Zaharatos’s goal was to protect and serve.

“We want to invite the opportunity for people to interact,” Yamada said.

The entryway was closed to vehicular traffic — except for emergency vehicles — in 2009.

“All we have there now are sad, pathetic police barriers,” said Gilly Youner, a civic trustee. “We thought the contest would improve this.”

The stones are not intended to reference anti-terrorism bollards and planters that stand sentry in front of buildings across the city, the duo insisted.

“These are not repetitive barriers,” Zaharatos said. “Each stone becomes an abstract sculpture.”

So far, the architects have had no conversations with city agencies about their design, which the civic council hopes to fund through private donations, enough at least to build a prototype.

The pair entered the contest in September, and on Wednesday night, was awarded the top prize by the civic council, walking away with a cool $2,000 — and the chance to have their work become a part of the urban landscape.

Runner-ups included “Tree Grove,” which referenced the neighborhood’s wrought iron fences, and “Third Street Arches,” which blocks and invites traffic at once.

At the Third Street entrance, most parkgoers thought the design was a charming addition to an otherwise mundane entryway, which on a frigid Wednesday afternoon was blocked by a “Do Not Enter Except for Bikes” movable barrier, one half of it carelessly toppled over.

“It is certainly something more visually interesting than what’s there now,” said Brigitta Starin. “Plus, it’s nice to have art projects around the city.”

Peter Lopez agreed. “It’s way better than this,” he said, pointing to the sloppy blockade. Besides, he added, the design seems particularly suited to its surroundings. “It’s not like it’s totally changing the whole park. It’s great how it’s not too gaudy.”

But some were perplexed.

“It kind of looks like a memorial to something,” said Fourth Place resident Terry Kogan. “It would be nice if it was for the Brooklyn Museum, but for the park? I don’t get it.”

Updated 12:17 am, December 8, 2010: An earlier version of this story featured a rendering that showed people biking on the sidewalk. Oops.
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Reasonable discourse

Brooklyn says:
Looks pretty damn ugly.
Dec. 3, 2010, 12:06 pm
Chicken Underwear from Park Slope says:
anything to keep the entitled from taking their cars in there.
Dec. 3, 2010, 1:50 pm
Dan from Prospect Heights says:
A straight-up child killer. Those brass tracks look like the perfect home for a bike tire. Then the fallen child can be crushed by the weight of the stone as other neighborhood kids push it as hard as they can. Because that's what kids do. This thing is a wrongful death lawsuit waiting to happen.

I'm particularly fond of how the cyclists are seen riding on the sidewalk in the rendering because the bike path is blocked by a bunch of friggin boulders!?! The Park Slope Civic Council is about as smart as a bunch of boulders. They should stop playing with crystals and dropping acid before their next meeting.
Dec. 3, 2010, 2:18 pm
Myself says:
Good point -- the illustration shows cyclists on the side, which is illegal! Why not just put in simple, clean posts to stop the cars?
Dec. 3, 2010, 4:19 pm
chicken Underwear from Park Slope says:
much better views of the Proposals can be seen here
Dec. 3, 2010, 8:43 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Wait for the Snow Plow!
Dec. 3, 2010, 8:56 pm
Steve from South Slope says:
You sound like you'd be a lot of fun at a cocktail party, Dan:

"Those toothpicks. Next thing you know, Harry will be choking on one, and then Alice will come over, punch him in the neck, causing the toothpick to puncture his throat, because that's just the kind of thing Alice would do. And then we'll all be at the precinct, in handcuffs, on manslaughter charges."
Dec. 4, 2010, 12:04 am
trace from park slope says:
UGLY!! the desert in Brooklyn? A real context sensitive solution - NOT..They couldn't find ONE landscape architect to work on one of the most famous designs in the history of landscape architecture? Really nasty design they chose!
Dec. 5, 2010, 6:38 am
Magda from Carroll Gardens says:
This could be really beautiful!....As a very modern design, its very sculptural and desperately needed in New York. Not enough things like this being built in NY. Found this link to the full design...
Also this seems like it could be really interactive. With the some keen lighting at night, this would look fantastic!
Dec. 6, 2010, 1:08 am
trace from park slope says:
wow, Magda..What exactly do you like about it? It looks like a total afterthought to me, a bunch of boulders, with no modern element at all..This is the kind of thing country folk like to do in their front yards..Put a big boulder, right by the mailbox..Landscape Design! My image of modern landscape architecture would involve simple clean lines, very few elements, very strong elegant structure..This design is nothing..Really like others say, an accident waiting to happen. Modern? I don't think so..Moving parts and modern are mutually contradictory..
Dec. 6, 2010, 9:50 am
Resident of from PPW says:
Just curious, who funds the Park Slope Civic Council? I guess it doesn't matter, if Commissioner Sadik-Khan or our Imperial Mayor for Life wants this dumb and ugly design they will use the civil council as their front. Everyone they know best.
Dec. 6, 2010, 10:34 am
Magda from Carroll Gardens says:
Trace, I'm not sure I understand or agree with your last comment, "Moving parts and modern are mutually contradictory". I consider myself a modern art lover and just off the top of my head I can think of the exquisite, graceful moving mobiles of Alexander Calder. His work was completely modern and utilized a playful, interactive element, as I think this Stone Garden design does. As a jewelry designer, I know that renderings and drawings are usually mostly conceptual and only once the fabrication begins can the real functional kinks be worked out. I think this is a beautiful concept that can be implemented easily and safely.
Dec. 6, 2010, 3:10 pm
trace from park slope says:
of course, Calder, but he is not an architect - he never did anything that needed to be anyone, as far as I recall..(much as I love him also..)..Modern architecture - moving parts - ? don't think so..But that is not the onlly thing that does not make 'modernism' a good way to describe this piece..I think more it's lack of simplicity, it's lack of integration into it's environment - I think an amusement arcade or a suburban front lawn is a better idiom to compare it to..You can still like it, but I don't see any modernism in this design (I also absolutely love modernism, as we all do these days, right?)
Dec. 6, 2010, 3:30 pm
Pat k from Slope says:
Non-Functional- try again!
Dec. 14, 2010, 11:52 pm

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