To catalyze Grand Army Plaza's rebirth, the Design Trust for Public Space launched an international ideas competition, "Reinventing Grand Army Plaza," to generate new visions for every aspect of the plaza's design.
A reinvention of Olmsted and Vaux’s “green lung,” our vision reinterprets the 19th century notion of park as escape from industrialization within a city context: a public space that provides benefits in an urban environment rather than a pastoral one, and not only for visitors but for the site itself. The design parti utilizes the historic design’s use of ellipse and berm and deconstructs them into contemporary vocabulary. The ellipse is dissected, and the remaining half-arcs become an iconic bridge that forms a graceful slope, a single berm, which connects neighborhoods over an underground traffic circle. Our design recalls the plaza’s history without recreating it; new overlays old. The separation of vehicular traffic from pedestrian in the bridging arcs reinterprets Olmsted and Vaux’s ingenious system of bridges and pathways found in Prospect Park.