Park Architect to Speak at BHA Annual Meeting

michael-van-valkenburghMichael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA, FAAR, principal landscape architect for the portion of Brooklyn Bridge Park under construction below the Heights, will be the keynote speaker at the Brooklyn Heights Association’s annual meeting, to be held at Plymouth Church, entrance on Orange Street between Henry and Hicks, on Tuesday, February 23, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and you need not be a BHA member to attend.

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  • skunky

    Can’t we just refer to him as the Parkitecht? Would seem to be in keeping with your other quirky things like constantly referring to anything Yassky does as some sort of activitysky.

  • Publius

    I won’t be able to attend. Hopefully someone will ask the starchitect why his firm pocketed tens of millions of dollars to design this park. To draw up plans. I’ve always wondered this.

    Has there even been an accounting of why so much was paid to this starchitect firm, why, and what was the competitive bidding process to design this park?

    Frankly, from what I see on Pier 1 and the plans, I don’t see tens of millions of dollars of design value.

  • No One of Consequence

    It’s the old rule of price determining value.

    If you pay tens of millions of dollars for it, it must be awesome.
    If it only cost $100,000, it must be a piece of crap.

    Are $200 underwear inherently better than briefs that cost $5?

  • Claude Scales

    skunky: you’ve obviously confused me with Homer.

  • tpot

    It’s too bad Publius won’t be attending. He/she might learn the vast amount of work it takes to design, engineer, document, and oversee construction of 1.3 miles of of park. Having a highly qualified team of design professionals in charge is appropriate for this scale and complexity of work, and it’s not arbitrary that this would come at some cost. The cost/value is not simply a matter of overpriced underwear – it is a matter of the vast scope of work and the requisite high standards of service.
    Parkitect – I like it.

  • No One of Consequence

    ok, on further reflection, $100,000 would not be enough for the sheer size of the park. Then again, the location is such a gimme, even a crappy park would shine.

  • nabeguy

    For $20K, they could have turned this into a Guinness World Book worthy sandbox…and people still would come. As nooc points out, the draw is the location….everything else is just (expensive) window dressing.

  • my2cents

    tpot is right. It is a huge project. And some seem to forget there are several structures being designed (like the indoor racquet sports pavilion, just to name one) so this isn’t just a matter of laying some turf and planting a few trees. I disagree respectfully nabeguy with the window dressing comment. Parks are not just created by haphazard. I don’t think you’d call Olmsted a window dresser. Every vista in Prospect and Central parks was thought out and “designed” to be pleasing in composition. This city has a legacy of great parks to live up to, plus the new High Line has set a standard for what a new park can be like. So I’d say the bar here is high. If you want to see what a “cheap” barebones park looks like, check out the Williamsburg waterfront. Great view, but you sit on a piece of rotten wood while polluted water laps the shoreline. There is some grass to lie on, but no trees and no facilities to use. Not even a place to lock your bike.

  • vital action

    its a development not a park

  • Publius

    As of March 2009, the Parkitect’s firm received over $18,000,000 to design the plans for the park. That figure has likely grown over the past year.

    Am I alone in thinking this is more than a bit excessive?

    Has anyone taken a look at the park entrance near bargemusic? Is anyone else more than a bit underwhelmed by the not so grand entrance to what some are calling the park of the 21st century? The same awe inspiring view of Manhattan and the harbor would be there if it was grass, benches and trees planted.

    I’m wondering how these contracts were awarded, and how they were budgeted. Does anyone have info into the process? $18,000,000? The entire design and construction of the infamous Tweed Courthouse only cost $13,000,000, which included all the beautiful marble, hand crafted wood, labor, and graft.

  • LC

    $18M is a relatively small percentage of the overall development. It may seem a bit extreme out of context, but there was and is a lot of design work that has gone into this park. For instance, the fact that they are building on piers or that they designed the berms as sound barriers. Nothing in this park just “designs itself,” no matter what anyone thinks.

    I really don’t understand the hatred of this park by some in the community. To me, there can be nothing but positives to come out of having a beautiful, modern park on our doorstep. Maybe there really IS something in the water that makes people in the Heights so miserable.

    And finally, you’re going to compare costs to a building finished in the 1880’s? Have any idea what $13M in mid 19th century dollars is worth today? Plus, it’s pretty easy to keep costs down when you don’t have to worry about pesky things like workman’s safety or environmental laws.

  • tpot

    There are about 3.7 million square feet of area in the plan. The Parkitect’s fees cover the direct staff working on the project as well as all the subconsultant’s fees: urban design, transportation planner, structural engineers, architects, marine & site infrastructure, environmental engineers, acoustic engineers, storm water reuse consultants, ecologists, soil scientists, irrigation designers, signage designers, and surveyors to name a few. There are at least 25 firms hired through his contract.

    MVVA was hired through a BBPDC RFP process in 2003, beating out a number of other teams.

  • green bean

    The city parks department budgets 10 percent for design, so if the fees for this park are less than $35,000,000, then MVVA and the subs were a bargain.

  • nabeguy

    my2, I thought by now you’d know when I’m playing devils advocate. Gotcha. Given the overall budget for this project, $18m mil seems like a drop in the bucket, especially given the documentation offered by tpot as to all the planning agencies involved. But the proof will be in the pudding. I truly hope that this project will come off the page and prove itself to be an avatar for future park designs. Then I’ll have the pleasure of directing clueless tourists towards it.