Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Flatiron Plaza Active and Social Recreation Area Proposal

First off I feel that NYC's Plazas program has created some of the best public spaces in the city. This includes the Flatiron Plaza.  So this post is not about fixing a  bad space, it's about making a  good space into an even better one. 

On the east side of the Flatiron building is a seating plaza

On the next block uptown is another block of seating...
and on the next block downtown still more seating.

Madison Square Park, Worth Park,the Madison Green Privately Owned Public Space  are also immediately adjacent to these seating plazas. There is a really great deal of seating in this area. The thing is the only activities adults  can do in most of  the many  seating areas is passive recreation - sit, eat, read, chat, or  use the free wifi .  (I emphasize  adults because children can play in the MSP playground and dogs can do  active recreation in the MSP  dog run)

 A number of studies reviewed in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that “creation of or enhanced access to places for physical activity combined with informational outreach” produced a 48 percent increase in the frequency of physical activity (Kahn, pp. 87-88) from: ALTERNATIVE WAYS, LOCATIONS, AND PARTNERS TO MEET THE

The nearest public adult active recreation areas are quite a distance from the Flatiron Plaza area. Here's an idea-why not add  active recreation to at least one of these area?

Here are several  possible suggestions:

The following can go either in the Flatiron Plaza or Madison Square Park:

-Adult active recreation  equipment

-A Fitness trail
Cost: Under $20,000 installed

-A Playground for Seniors
-Cost:Under  $50,000 installed

Table Hockey

Fitness trainers have discovered that Park Benches can double as fitness equipment. So just by adding signage that shows how, Madison Square Parks sitting benches can become Madison Square Parks fitness benches.  To see how click here.

Another idea is concrete  table tennis tables (cost 2 for $8,000), but due to traffic on the plaza, we'd only recommend this for Madison Square Park.

One playground leader said that parks were appropriately called
urban “breathing spaces” because “breathing was about all one was permitted to do in
them” (Boyer, pp. 244-245).
Active and Passive recreation

One of the characteristics of a Great Public Space as defined by the Project for Public Spaces is:  Does the space encourage communication or interaction between strangers?

                                           Activities that Create Community

Beyond active recreation it's also possible to add passive activities  to our plazas/parks that help create community  Bryant Park and Washington Square Park do an excellent job of doing this. There is no reason why ways can't be found to do this for our neighborhood outdoor parks and plazas. There is no need for a lot of space to do this.  On Parking Day people create spaces in parking spots that allow social interaction games to occur in a space the size of a parking spot.

Parking Day Card Game

Parking Day is a only once a year, so here is the Lotus garden on the upper west side where  there is  room to play games  in a relatively small garden space.

At Lotus by the addition of a small area with a table and chairs ...

they've  created a space to play Scrabble and other games

Piano Plaza

Luke Jerram in Times Sq, 2010
Credit "Photograph by Amarynth Sichel"

This piano in Times Square was part of the Play Me I'm Yours Project. Why not add a permanent piano to Flatiron Plaza?

Place a weatherproof plastic covering on it for rain/snow days and it will last years or try this....