I recently read an article about some of the famous structures in New York City, and about all the little features that no one would have noticed. Little tiny things that you would’ve never noticed were vitally important in the creation of monumental architectural structures. For instance, Times Square got its name in honor of the original New York Times building that sat on the edge of the square. Also, the Flatiron Building was one of the first buildings in the city to have been built with the steel skeleton. So, with all the little things that make a structure the way that they turned out to be, it would be interesting to see how an architectural enormity like Central Park would look like if New York City being built in the second decade of the Twenty-First Century. Fortunately, you can all see what that would be like.
Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu are two American architects who have taken Central Park and completely turned it upside down. This dynamic duo entered their design entitled “New York Horizon” to the eVolo Skyscraper Competition, and won first place. The future of New York isn’t exactly what you would see in an episode of Futurama or Doctor Who, but some of it gets pretty close. For starters, they would put up a glass wall a thousand feet high around the perimeter of the park. The design also calls for a restructuring of the park’s landscape, with the creation of valleys and canyons and hills and lakes. The wall would be made out of reflective glass to create the feeling of an enormous natural area enclosed within a densely populated metropolitan area.
The wall would also be one hundred feet wide to create seven square miles of occupiable area that would be used for apartments and commercial space. As if the apartments right on the park weren’t expensive enough. Some have called Sun and Wu’s redesign “the worst idea in history.” Others have praised their work for trying to reimagine an iconic American landmark to bring it into the modern world. But I think that the critics need to calm down. It’s not like people are seriously considering this design. The eVolo Skyscraper Competition is used to scout out undiscovered talents in the fields of architecture, urban planning, and design, so these are just interesting ideas. Consider some of the other entries to the competition, including a skyscraper covered completely in drones called “The Hive”.
Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux originally designed Central Park in order for New York City to compete with the great European cities. London has Hyde Park, Paris has the Jardin du Luxembourg, so New York got Central Park. Olmstead and Vaux originally put in little pieces, like cogs in a machine, in order to make the park work as a whole. For instance, the roads in Central Park are never straight. They’re all curved and windy, because they wanted to prevent people from racing their carriages through the park. Also, the park is a representation of New York state itself, with simplistic design in the south representing the city and the surrounding suburbs, and the trees and hills in the north of the park to represent the Adirondack and Catskill mountains in upstate New York. Olmstead and Vaux must have had critics during the planning stages of the park, as do almost all artists. So to call this idea the “worst idea in history” is a very long stretch. For all we know, with a few modifications to the original design, this could be how Central Park could look by the end of the century.