“In Queens, An Artistic Alteration
“That’s the screech,” Margie Ruddick explained. She was referring to the No. 7 train. It emitted an ear-splitting sound as we rounded a curve and came to a stop at the Queensboro Plaza subway station.
It wouldn’t be quite accurate to say that Ms. Ruddick, a landscape architect who led the recently completed $45 million makeover of Queens Plaza, spoke of the screech with affection. It was more like she was talking about a crazed relative whose existence one is forced to acknowledge when neighbors hear him barking in the attic.
The screech was but one challenge Ms. Ruddick and her team—including Marpillero Pollak Architects, Judith Heintz of the landscape architecture firm WRT, artist Michael Singer and lighting artist Leni Schwendinger—faced in attempting to transform Queens Plaza from a wasteland of potholed roads, a parking lot and elevated subway tracks into a greenway that would attract businesses and greet pedestrians and motorists arriving in Queens.
Let me put it another way: Imagine an urban-design competition where some higher power with a peculiar sense of humor—that would be the New York City Planning Commission—said, “We’re going to give you a 16-lane roadway so dangerous pedestrians get hit by cars and an elevated subway track that creates so much noise you can’t hear yourself think; now go turn it into a life-affirming oasis.”
Remarkably, they succeeded, doing so by creating a lush strip of green plantings, benches and a two-way bicycle path. The project culminates in a new, 1.5-acre park on the site of the former parking lot. Ms. Ruddick describes the whole thing as a “linear park.” That might be stretching it, no pun intended. Nonetheless, it’s shining proof of the power of enlightened urban planning, talent, taste, trees and other plants and, perhaps most of all, positive thinking to minimize, if not wholly eradicate, the effects of an otherwise hostile environment.”
Via: The Wall Street Journal
Photo: Queens Plaza; Jason Andrew for The Wall Street Journal