The city can feel like a maze sometimes; in this case it really is.
Whether or not you agree that funnest is actually a word, you have to admit that this new bouncy, zig-zagging pedestrian bridge in Brooklyn is pretty darn cool. Designed by Ted Zoli and constructed by HNTB, Squibb Park Bridge provides a much-needed link over the BQE to connect Brooklyn Heights to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Reactions to the slightly unstable sensation felt when crossing the bridge seem to be mixed, but locals are certainly appreciating the newfound ease with which they can get to the waterfront.
Banksy is a graffiti artist who often makes commentary about creating better, healthier, more friendly environments.
In light of Banksy’s return to New York in three years, The Creators Project collected “some of our favorite tech-focused graffiti artists in recent memory. Even if these artists don’t use the same stencil and paint style (read: analog) as him, we’re sure these artists cite Banksy as a top influence.”
Several great scientists, philosophers, and kids alike know the power of a good park bench. Thankfully park designers are learning that too:
That most prosaic of public furnishings, the New York City park bench, has morphed into a blank canvas on which designers, landscape architects and artists have unleashed their fantasies.
Architects and park officials say the trend has gained momentum as the city has reclaimed its waterfront and turned forgotten public nooks into plazas.
park furniture has the power to stop people in their tracks and have them take a seat. Abigail Hansen, a 24-year-old graduate student who lives on the Upper West Side, set out recently to walk along the Hudson River all the way to Chelsea. But she was sidetracked when she happened upon a group of curvaceous chaise longues made from molded fiberglass in Riverside Park South at West 62nd Street near the river. “When I saw these I decided to stop,” said Ms. Hansen, who was flipping through an Italian fashion magazine. “The surface is nice and smooth and the material doesn’t get too hot.”
I read about this street performer on Mashable. Based in Manhattan, he sounds like a guy with the same passion and vision for a play-filled world that I have, so I just had to share:
Matthew Silver just wants people to smile.
Silver, “The Great Performer,” can be seen throughout Manhattan using dance, song and oversized props to ease the tension of everyday life — because, as he says on his website, “it’s OK to be silly from time to time.”
Matthew describes his work on his website as an antidote to seriousness:
My role as a clown, trickster and village idiot is to parody excessive seriousness by playing with taboos, rules, and social norms. My inspiration comes from my heart. I perform for smiles and laughter, loosening people’s armor, and opening up a portal for imagination, creativity and love.
Glad there is somebody out there who spends his time encouraging people to be silly.
At Greater & Greener: Reimagining Parks for 21st Century Cities, the 4th international urban parks conference organized by the City Parks Alliance, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg told an audience of 900 city parks leaders, landscape architects, and activists from 210 cities and 20 countries that “parks are a vital resource.” Under Bloomberg’s administration, some 730 new acres of parkland have been added to the 29,000 existing acres of green space. Bloomberg thinks NYC’s high-quality parks also have a lot to do with the fact that for the first time ever NYC got more than 50 million tourists last year.
Parks are a “haven” from a busy world but they also make communities more vibrant and attractive. Beyond that, these social green spaces can spur economic growth. With $3 billion in capital investment in parks over the past 10 years, Bloomberg clearly thinks all this money is…
Earlier this week I brought up the importance of spaces for play in the city, and then yesterday mentioned a scientific study that used traceurs or people who practice parkour, a sport that basically makes any space into a play space. Unfortunately park playgrounds are often verboten to grown-ups without a kid companion. But often grown-ups like the play equipment, or similar play equipment, as much as kids do. Now, the cities of New York and Detroit are determining where and whether to put in playgrounds specifically for adults:
New York City is installing adult playgrounds for fitness-hungry grown-ups, touting the benefits of a grade-school workout. …the Big Apple parks are geared more toward workouts than whiling away the summer hours. There aren’t any slides or swings yet at these outdoor gyms.
In Europe, where playtime seems to be more a more capricious venture, adult playgrounds tempt grown-ups to get off the couch with detailed outdoor mazes, rock climbing walls, elephant slides and swimming canals.
Philip Lauri is the founder of Detroit Lives!, the media company with the mission of bringing creativity to the streets of Detroit (through an apparel line, murals and the “After The Factory” documentary). Detroit Lives! has recently started experimenting with making places in the city that inspire that same joie de vivre and fun — like the Georgia Street Community Collective’s remote-control racetrack for kids living in the nonprofit’s target neighborhood. He thinks adult playgrounds could be smart additions to neighborhoods who have already installed thriving community gardens.
“In those areas, we install an adult playground as an addendum to that successful effort, and use the kind of neighborhood engagement that the garden created to successfully initiate the adult playground,” Lauri wrote. “Then, both sites grow with participation and we get healthier people and neighborhoods. That’s a simplified progression, but still tangible enough to act upon quite quickly.”
In some ways I find it sad that we need to create playgrounds specifically for grown-ups. Don’t we teach our kids to share and cooperate? But, in many ways it makes sense: for one thing, adults are bigger and therefore need different sized equipment. They also tend to play rougher, more competitively, and less cooperatively than children (according to numerous studies I’ll find and source later), so keeping the two play groups separated is probably a safer idea. Finally, grown-ups also need to be given explicit permission to goof off, at least much more so than kids, so giving them a space devoted entirely to play will help them get creative and playful in their movement.
What kind of equipment would you want on an adult playground? Rope swings? Fireman’s pole? Leave your thoughts in the comments below?
Signs of spring are just starting to appear – birds are getting more active, tulips are just starting to show off green shoots – but even in my neck of the woods I know it’ll be awhile before spring is actually here. In New York, one group is fighting the gray and dark with an installed insta-park:
Welcome to New York City in winter, with a cure for cold-weather blues: a pop-up indoor park in lower Manhattan that’s open through Valentine’s Day.
Despite temperate temperatures so far this year, “it’s our rebellion against winter,” says Jonathan Daou, founder and CEO of Openhouse Gallery, a company that holds a 20-year lease on the space at 201 Mulberry St.
On a recent chilly weekday afternoon, babies played barefoot in the 75-degree world of Park Here while their mothers and fathers sipped tea, eating cookies and sandwiches.
One night, a movie is planned on the lawn; other days bring a ping pong competition, a trivia contest, wine tastings and soccer workshops.
The 5,000-square-foot artificial habitat in the downtown Nolita neighborhood is filled with trees, rocks, picnic benches and the recorded ambient sounds of Central Park in spring. There are giant cushions and even a hammock, plus a baby elephant.
But the park will be gone by mid-February.
The rest of the year, the 200-year-old former police precinct is a stage for business that plays on the “pop-up” retail method mushrooming around the world in recent years: a quick presentation of a product, performance or personality, with no commitment to a lease or contract.
It’s usually set up in a mobile unit that can be assembled and disappear.
Some call it guerrilla retail. “You’re not stuck with a 10-year lease if the product doesn’t sell,” Daou says. “People are looking for novelty, off the beaten path, and this space tests the ‘legs’ of a business concept.”
The space was part of a police precinct in the late 1890s under New York Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, who later became U.S. president.
But there’s nothing historic about what’s going on inside. On the contrary, it’s all the rage in retail.
More examples of how to make your environment fun, thanks to Boing Boing:
In this video from the NYC subway, a singer named Jessica Latshaw, bearing a small uke, finds herself sitting across from a gentleman with a fine pair of bongos. The two begin an impromptu jam session, emceed by a random gregarious stranger and captured for posterity by a subway rider with a camphone. The performance is just fine, and it’s clear from the footage that the rest of the car is having a fine time.
In theory, it’s possible that the whole thing is a fix, “buzz marketing” from Latshaw and co, and if so, well, it’s an extraordinarily nonobnoxious example of the form.
okay- what you are about to watch is a true new york experience. what originally started out as a typical nyc subway ride (sitting across from guy who smelled like urine) turned into an awesome performance by two people who have never met before. i captured the whole thing on video.
Happy New Year! This has been a pretty crazy year for me. One of change, growth, more change, more growth… but hopefully all of it has paid off to create a better, more enriching space for me both at work and at home.
I am an aggressive (yet polite!) reuser/recycler, and always on the hunt for effective ways to encourage people to divide and conquer their trash, so to speak. This looks like a great idea.
The Pratt Institute for Design is known for its phenomenal furniture design students as well as architects, artists, graphic designers, but for trash can designers? Yes, that’s right, recent graduate Nicole Howell turned her ‘Toss With Care’ trash can design thesis project into a full on mission to better understand homelessness in New York City, and along the way, she became fascinated with trash divers. Her project, Toss with Care, which developed out of her initial experiment the trashpoline, was design to not only act as a traditional trash receptacle, but also a recycling can and a place for edible leftovers for street dwellers in search of food.