27 October 2010

LIve Blog: Jerome Barth on Bryant Park

Vice President of Business Affairs
Why Bryant Park Works

Since public funding for parks and green infrastructure has become increasingly scarce, an increasing number of parks are looking for alternative models of funding.  If annual rents around Bryant Park are $13 million higher (Say, at the Grace Building), and the property is worth an extra $217 million, how much is it worth for them to help fund the maintenance of the park? 

Making the park one of the most popular in the world requires lots of work, but at the core it has come from some basic improvements: Simple design, friendly but visible security, trash collection during the day, tons of lighting, flowers (send a message that someone is in charge), and movable seating.

Attention to design concerns can refocus attention on details that impact the park's usage: Stairs are an enemy of usage.  If you want people to come into your park, you might want to avoid them.  They make access harder for disadvantaged populations and make many people think twice about using them. 

Barth also talked about the park bathrooms as a detail that matters.  (Design for women)

But maybe the Park's greatest strength is programming.  Piano at lunchtime.  Chess events.  Outdoor reading room.  Wi-fi (technology is your friend).  Movie nights.  Skating rink.  Ping-pong.  Fencing.

The #1 pleasure outdoors, no matter who you are, is people watching.

References include:
Malcolm Gladwell's Blink
Kelling and Cole's Fixing Broken Windows

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