City (Probably) Taps Van Valkenburgh for West Side Park

van valkenburgh City (Probably) Taps Van Valkenburgh for West Side ParkIt seems the Bloomberg administration has chosen landscape designer Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates to build a new West Side park, though there’s no official word yet from the city.

Last night at a forum on the West Side rail yards, both Vishaan Chakrabarti, an executive at the Related Companies who is leading the firm’s development of the yards, and Assemblyman Dick Gottfried referred to Van Valkenburgh as the winner of a design competition for a mid-block park and boulevard. The park is planned to run between 10th and 11th avenues, from 33rd Street to 42nd Street (though only the first segment, from 33rd Street to 36th Street, is funded).

The city’s Hudson Yards Development Corporation declined to comment.

Assuming the news is true (we’d also heard chatter of the same news before last night), the selection of Van Valkenburgh would presumably connect well with Related’s planned $15 billion West Side rail yards development as it is also the landscape architect there.

Michael Van Valkenburgh is doing quite a bit of business these days in the city. The firm does work on Hudson River Park; it’s designing Brooklyn Bridge Park; and it planned the redesign of the northern end of Union Square Park, currently under construction.

Last night’s forum, nominally devoted to zoning text amendments for the eastern half of the rail yards, focused mainly on Related’s potential move to tear down a “spur” off the High Line, the railway viaduct-turned-parkland that runs through the rail yards. The spur runs east from the High Line along 30th Street, crossing 10th Avenue.

Most of the dozens of attendees indicated they supported saving the spur, as did two elected officials in attendance, Representative Jerry Nadler and Assemblyman Dick Gottfried. Related has indicated it is concerned about the size and potential economic impact of the structure. The founders of the High Line effort, Friends of the High Line, are pushing Related hard to retain the spur and to move two planned buildings on the western edge of the site away from the High Line (Related revealed images last night showing that one of those buildings had been moved.)