New York, NY (1981)

Client: Rockefeller Foundation, Bryant Park Restoration Corporation

One of the best-loved and successful urban parks in the country, Bryant Park, located adjacent to the New York Public Library on 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan, was first redesigned in 1934, to accommodate the stacks of the library which were located beneath it. The park was raised above the surrounding busy streets and conceived of as an “urban sanctuary.” However, this design created isolation and the park became a notorious haven for drug dealing and other negative activities.

Analysis by William H. Whyte and Project for Public Spaces in 1981, prepared for the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation and sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, utilized interviews, videotaping, and activity mapping to address such issues as image, access and circulation, programming, landscape elements, management, and security. A report “Bryant Park, Intimidation or Recreation?” recommended opening the park’s constricted entrances and removing hedges along its perimeter so that people could more easily view the interior from the sidewalk, and adding semi-commercial uses such as a food and beverage kiosks and a ticket stand.

While construction began in 1982, the complete plan was not fully realized until ten years later. Today, Bryant Park enjoys perhaps the highest use and best maintenance of any urban park in America, due to a combination of these design changes, and an innovative and flexible management program.

More on Bryant Park

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Bryant Park: Publicly Owned, Privately Managed, and Financially Self-Supporting

Bryant Park was last modified: March 6th, 2012 by Project for Public Spaces
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