Design teams dream up ‘Downtown Brooklyn Commons’
by Daniel Bush
May 24, 2011 | 7124 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chad Richardson and Michael Luft-Weissberg in front of City College’s 3-D diorama of Downtown Brooklyn, which was on display at Borough Hall.
Chad Richardson and Michael Luft-Weissberg in front of City College’s 3-D diorama of Downtown Brooklyn, which was on display at Borough Hall.
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Move over, Boston Common.

Aspiring planners have an idea for their own “Downtown Brooklyn Commons” that would link parkland in one of the country’s fastest growing urban centers.

Students from four schools - City College, City Tech, NYU’s Polytechnic Institute and the Pratt Institute - were tasked with imagining ways to connect the 21 acres of open space that stretch from Brooklyn Bridge Park to Borough Hall, an area that includes Cadman Plaza, the Korean Veterans Plaza and Columbus Park.

The semester-long project culminated with an exhibition at Borough Hall.

Ideas ranged from creating a wetlands to building an elevated bike path and even luring the bankrupt Los Angeles Dodgers back to Brooklyn with a comfy new stadium near Cadman Plaza.

Borough President Marty Markowitz, who opposed the Prospect Park West bike lane, but was a staunch supporter of the Nets basketball arena under construction in Prospect Heights, applauded the effort.

Students put their “hearts and souls into creating designs that inspire, perhaps provoke, but most definitely get us to think about how to make Brooklyn a better place,” Markowitz said.

City College grad students Chad Richardson and Michael Luft-Weissberg teamed up with classmates to create a three-dimensional diorama of Downtown Brooklyn from wood, Plexiglas and other recycled materials.

The sprawling display featured bike paths connecting Borough Hall to the waterfront and an ambitious underground water filtration system.

“There’s a lot of things that could be done” to improve Downtown Brooklyn, said Luft-Weissberg, who lives in Harlem. “I think it needs a little” help.

NYU-Poly professor Carl Skelton showed off a digital program called Betaville - a cross between Sim City and Google Earth - that allows urban planners and residents to work together on new design projects.

“If a user-generated television network like YouTube is possible, why not user-generated cities?” said Skelton, who played with a design for a new Dodgers stadium near Cadman Plaza.

The project was sponsored by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, a group with its own vision for transforming the neighborhood that has come under fire for its attempted takeover of the MetroTech Business Improvement District.

Joe Chan, the partnership’s president, said the “time was right” to “re-imagine Downtown Brooklyn Commons into a more cohesively linked and actively used series of public places.”

Nancy Pacheco, a City Tech student and Sunset Park native, agreed.

“The Downtown corridor is already up and coming,” she said.

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