This morning I got on the Staten Island ferry to tour parks on the island with Parks Department officials and the leadership of a major environmental foundation. For several of them, it was the first trip to Staten island where they actually got off the ferry and went onto the island. Along the way, we talked about the harbor and the upcoming Rising Currents exhibition at MoMA.
I was fortunate to be able to attend the final weekend of open studio at P.S.1, where the five teams shared the ongoing process of their work, and I joined a few other city officials, including City Planning Chair Amanda Burden and Leslie Koch, who is directing the development of Governors Island. The whole place was wonderfully crowded, and the final session where each team gave presentations was held in a room crammed to the gills with people, including many sitting or lying on the floor.
From the Parks point of view, the proposals represent some innovative ways to create new realms of public space, places that are not traditional parks, but rather are flexible zones of water and land and plants and animals. We currently tend to look at parks as distinct from other urban forms, with fences, walls, planted buffers— different vocabularies of building materials. While each team has proposed concepts very different from the others, they all redefine the interaction of streets, parks, seawalls, canals, piers, and even the harbor itself. From a purely selfish point of view, many of the proposals offer a major expansion of flexible green space.