Raudhah Borhanuddin, Pui Yu Chan, Tonia Sing Chi, Maria de la Torre, Alexander Ford, Nicholas Gervasi, Chuck Hovanic, Cherie-Nicole Leo, Cheng Liao, Caroline Raftery, Barrett Reiter, William Ross, Alberto Sanchez-Sanchez, Gwendolyn Stegall, Sarah Yoon
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is a complex landscape. It is composed of structures, landscape elements, recreational spaces, and passive green spaces. Tied to these elements is a set of equally complex values supported by a diverse group of stakeholders. The layers of overlapping aesthetic, economic, environmental, historical, social, and symbolic values that are ascribed to the park reveal the difficulty in developing a cohesive identity and management plan for the park. Our analysis informs us that for preservation planning, design, and conservation proposals for the park to be effective, we cannot take a “blank-slate” approach, because we recognize that there are multiple layers of significance embedded in this landscape. The easy choice is to demolish everything and build a new, “better” park, as has been tried before, but this not only erases the park’s history, evident in its many “relics” or remnants of the world’s fairs and other major events, but it also negates the qualities of the park that are strongest in its use today - the reality that this park is quite successfully used for a vast range of activities. In contrast to former top-down master plan approaches, our studio has determined through an in-depth analysis of the park’s history, current use, and context, that the competing narratives of the park call for more surgical, directed interventions, tailored to address specific issues in the park.
Rather than perceiving the world’s fair remnants and other vestiges of the park’s history as ruins that obstruct the full social and recreational functionality of the park today, these entities should be seen as expressive generators of the rich and complex narratives that ultimately endow the landscape with its significance and make it meaningful to a variety of stakeholders. Understanding this, the preservation planning guidelines, feasibility studies, and design interventions presented in this report address how the existing historic features and landscape of the park could be used in a way that enhances their value – “valorizes” them – for present and future park users. Ultimately, the goal of this studio was to produce a set of guidelines and proposals that informs decision-making for the treatment of the park’s historic resources in a way that balances the needs of all stakeholders.