Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Landmark Commission briefing

Helen Kuykendall of Parks & Recreation summarized the 2005 Master Plan and described steps toward its implementation: 1 - formation of Civic Center Conservancy to raise money for implementation; 2 - grant application for restoration, and request that restoration money be included in proposed bond issue; 3 - Conservancy engaging Libeskind to generate ideas for enhancements. Shown on two boards called a "Vision Plan," his structures are intended to be lightweight and transparent, emphasize the east-west axis, provide activity and draw people, and improve pedestrian access. She said presentation of these ideas is intended to generate discussion and creativity about the park, and that the large turnouts at the meetings show that it is working.
About 20 people were there, and about 10 spoke - all speakers had concerns about the designs or the process or both. Comments included:
concentrate on maintenance and security; restore existing before adding new structures; these ideas are "froo-froo" and unnecessary; historic and architectural significance of the park very important and should not be ignored; Vision Plan does not follow goals of Master Plan; not appropriate to try to solve transient social problems with architecture; is private money having too much influence at the expense of the public interest.
Comments from members of the Commission included: Is it possible that the Vision Plan might require de-listing the park from the National Register of Historic Places; P&R should be congratulated on scheduling so many public meetings; what will happen to all the survey responses and public comment; the Parks Dept had final authority and the LPC can comment, but not veto P&R plans for parks; at Red Rocks, it was public involvement that changed that renovation from bad to good. The LPC did not take any action.
Two meeting were announced:
Park People panel discussion - November 15, 5:30 - 7:30 - Colorado History Museum Presentation of other design proposals - December 6, 5:30 - 7:30 - Colorado History Museum

1 comment:

Patrick Johnson said...

Denver's new Art Museum addition is now open and, the New York Times' less than stellar review not withstanding, will certainly garner us congratulatory notices world-wide as the first Libeskind building completed in the U.S.

Then there are his equally zoomy schemes for Civic Center Park. A more inappropriate set of proposals would be hard to imagine.

I vividly recall John Prosser - then acting Dean of UCD’s College of Design & Planning - lying on his back at the cross-axes of the park, head towards the State capitol, feet towards Denver's City & County building, and arms outstretched towards the pavilions at the north and south ends of the park, in a heroic effort to illustrate the park's "Classical Anthropomorphic Parti" to a small group of grad students. John also informed us that Civic Center Park was a product of the City Beautiful-Greek Revival movements.

Therefore it seems obvious that any maintenance and improvements projects at Civic Center Park be respectful of its classical underpinnings.

The prospect of an ultra-modernized Civic Center Park - sans open spaces recently employed to such stunning effect by the American Friends Service Committee's Shoes and Boots War Protest - is, however, secondary to the horrible precedent now in progress by which the normal public review and comment process has been by-passed by a private, unaccountable non-profit group, no matter how well intentioned.

I hope that the Mayor will take a very active role in this issue, and very soon.