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Reinventing Grand Army Plaza

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cars didn't exist when Grand Army Plaza was designed 141 years ago. Now they've overrun it and the city is working on ways to bring some balance back at the entrance to Prospect Park. Now the public has a chance to vote for its favorite overhaul idea. WNYC's Dan Blumberg spoke with some of the architects who want to make the plaza more serene.

Slideshow: Grand Army Plaza

REPORTER: The nonprofit Design Trust for Public Space has put 30 plans on display in the center of Grand Army Plaza. Just be careful crossing the street to get to them.

TWEETY: I've been through Grand Army Plaza so many times... I'd never been in the center of the thing.

REPORTER: That's architect Aaron Tweety. He says right now the plaza is designed for you to get around it -- not through it. Tweety and the Brooklyn-based Garrison Architects won 3rd prize for their plan, which includes an elevated pedestrian promenade, cafes, and a permanent greenmarket.

But the top prizes were won by French firms. Architect Christian Matthieu says being home to the Arc du Triomphe may have helped.

MATTHIEU: Maybe we are used to these funny spaces that are not geometrical, so we had more fun I guess.

REPORTER: Matthieu's team would put canopies over Flatbush avenue and uses a series of ramps to connect various pedestrian-friendly areas.

The other top prize was perhaps the boldest -- getting rid of the roundabout all together and routing traffic around a long rectangular plaza instead. That way the Plaza is directly connected to Prospect Park.

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