Brooklyn Bridge Park opened, my only experience of parks as a parent had been of neighborhood parks"/>

Design Observer

About
Books
Job Board
Newsletters
Archive
Contact



Observatory

About
Resources
Submissions
Contact


Featured Writers

Michael Bierut
William Drenttel
John Foster
Jessica Helfand
Alexandra Lange
Mark Lamster
Paul Polak
Rick Poynor
John Thackara
Rob Walker


Departments

Advertisement
Audio
Books
Collections
Dear Bonnie
Dialogues
Essays
Events
Foster Column
From Our Archive
Gallery
Interviews
Miscellaneous
Opinions
Partner News
Photos
Poetry
Primary Sources
Projects
Report
Reviews
Slideshows
The Academy
Today Column
Unusual Suspects
Video


Topics

Advertising
Architecture
Art
Books
Branding
Business
Cities / Places
Community
Craft
Culture
Design History
Design Practice
Development
Disaster Relief
Ecology
Economy
Education
Energy
Environment
Fashion
Film / Video
Food/Agriculture
Geography
Global / Local
Graphic Design
Health / Safety
History
Housing
Ideas
Illustration
India
Industry
Info Design
Infrastructure
Interaction Design
Internet / Blogs
Journalism
Landscape
Literature
Magazines
Media
Museums
Music
Nature
Obituary
Other
Peace
Philanthropy
Photography
Planning
Poetry
Politics / Policy
Popular Culture
Poverty
Preservation
Product Design
Public / Private
Public Art
Religion
Reputations
Science
Shelter
Social Enterprise
Sports
Sustainability
Technology
Theory/Criticism
Transportation
TV / Radio
Typography
Urbanism
Water


Comments Posted 07.02.10 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Alexandra Lange

The Personality of Parks


Until Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park opened, my only experience of parks as a parent had been of neighborhood parks. The sandbox, the little house, the frog park, as my son calls them, in eternal morning and afternoon rotation. Occasionally Carroll Park, but I found that to be too much of a scene. Sometimes a jaunt to Pierrepont or Chapin in Brooklyn Heights, where I often discovered other Cobble Hill moms desperate for a change. At some parks I always see someone I know during the week, but on the weekends, a whole new crowd rolls in, heavy on the dads. Where does everyone go? I have never been able to figure it out.

What all these parks have in common is small scale and a lack of amenities making them worthy destinations. They are ordinary parks, some shadier, some more climbable, some with swings, some with sand. So everyone who uses them is from around here, and we all follow the same unwritten rules. We close the gate behind us. We (try) to share our trucks. We stop others’ children from escaping. We talk to strangers, because we are all, usually, moms.

But Pier 6 is different. Pier 6 feels like the city, not a neighborhood. One resident of Willowtown wrote to protest the traffic in his/her sleepy neighborhood. They are going to do something about the dangerous approach. Everyone there is passing through, trying out the new equipment, looking for the next thing over the rubber knoll. They come in packs from other places, chatting about the World Cup and which restaurant they are going to try tonight. After opening day, I’ve never seen a friend. The gates are left open, too much traffic to keep them shut. The older kids run wild, having their adventure. I’m not sure I would talk to a child, much less try to find their parent, for fear I’d be seen as interfering.

To go is to go as a family, focusing on your child’s enjoyment and potential for injury, but you have to move as a unit, trying not to upset the other units. You have to check the map, keep to yourself, move swiftly along the paths, make eye contact when necessary. You’re not in the neighborhood anymore, and anything can happen. Is this the adventure in adventure playground? I think not. But it is a by-product of popularity, and a microcosm of the sense of safety and scale we experience in the city as a whole.

Share This Story

RELATED POSTS


The Social Project


Occupy: What Architecture Can Do


Carlo Scarpa, Quilter


Landscape Optimism: An Interview with Chris Reed


Mapping Liberty Plaza



LOG IN TO POST A COMMENT
Don't have an account? Create an account. Forgot your password? Click here.

Email


Password




|
Share This Story



Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.
More >>

DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









BOOKS BY Alexandra Lange

Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

Design Research
Chronicle Books, 2010

More books by contributors >>