Reverence of Place
Last week Shaun posed a great question about the role of design in bridging conflicting values evident in respecting place, reaching out, and sustainability in regards to Gateway NRA.
Floyd Bennett Field is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in the history of aviation. Some NPS preservationists think development at Floyd Bennett Field is beginning to chip away at its historic character. Yet camping is such an amazing way of reaching out to the community both locally, regionally, even nationally.
So here’s a thought: does the conversation have to be either/or? What is the role of design in bridging conflicting values evident in respecting place, reaching out, and sustainability?
I’m sure in our respective programs, we’ve all learned that design plays a major role in meeting the challenge of recognizing and balancing the goals of preservation/respecting place vs. moving forward into the 21st century/making historically important places more relevant and relatable – how to make something old and remote meaningful to people today.
Recognizing this challenge, in 2010, NYC convened a talented panel of urban planners, architects, landscape architects, engineers, conservationists, preservationists, designers, and transportation experts to come up with an action plan for Floyd Bennett Field and Gateway NRA. One of the recommendations from the Floyd Bennett Field Blue Ribbon Panel was to:
“Preserve and make visible the site’s aviation history, while maintaining grassland habitat. Preserve the runways (but not necessarily all of them, and not necessarily all of their pavement). Reveal their memory in a new park plan and preserve the wide vistas and surrounding grasslands of industrial allees.”
So one of the key design challenges in expanding urban camping is siting of these new campgrounds. In my research of the park site – I came upon the initial design plans for FBF, where the land use concept displayed Designing the Parks principle: reverence for place. The basis of the development plan was to:
– Accentuate the airport theme of the campground by preserving the taxiway axis and repeating this alignment in the campground roads; such an organization allows for natural buffer spaces with a system of interconnected trails that will branch out and link to all campsites
– while, locating the more intensively developed recreational vehicle camping no existing paved surfaces and on the higher, well drained, shrub covered natural areas.
Both these elements serve to meld the site’s historic/cultural meaning with its new programmatic purpose. I’m excited to visit the site and experience it, especially after reading this interesting article about the experience camping there on the NYTs from 2010. I’m curious if the noise issue is still there, if you can really see stars in nyc, and to visit adjacent sites.