Volume 76, Number 47 | April 18 - 24, 2007

Villager photo by Kristin Edwards

The statue of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia — recently defaced by some vandal using silver paint — in LaGuardia Park.

Kids help cultivate design for ‘Little Flower Garden’

By Kristin Edwards

Washington Square Park is not the only park in town being considered for a facelift. LaGuardia Park, an ivy-covered swath south of Washington Square on LaGuardia Place, between Bleecker and W. Third Sts., will be getting a kid-friendly makeover, using ideas from children themselves.

The Friends of LaGuardia Park, a private group that is in charge of maintaining the park, has put plans in motion to transform the property into a children’s garden. Design proposals were presented last week during a wine and cheese party at the Center for Architecture Foundation — home of the American Institute of Architecture’s New York chapter — located directly across LaGuardia Pl. from the park.

Because of the garden’s proximity, the Center for Architecture Foundation decided to get involved in the project.

A proposal for the renovation of LaGuardia Park by Emma Schurink
The redesign initiative is being called “A Garden for the Little Flower,” in honor of Fiorello LaGuardia, after whom the street was named. The city’s 99th mayor from 1934-1945, LaGuardia, a native Villager, was nicknamed “The Little Flower.”

Many of the design proposals were submitted by children who participated in C.A.F.’s summer program, said the center’s director, Erin McCluskey, who worked with the children. The children participated in a special workshop dealing with landscape design, during which they developed their LaGuardia Park design proposals.

Columbia University graduate students taking landscaping classes with Adrian Smith and Jan Johnsen will also be assisting in the design of the new garden space.

Smith said he was on the board of American Society of Landscape Architecture with Rick Bell, head of A.I.A.’s New York chapter, which is how he became aware of the project. This year, Smith started instructing a course at Columbia’s School of Continuing Education, teaching a master’s course in landscape design. His students, as well as Johnsen’s, are participating in the design as a project for the class.

In addition, New York University has also taken an interest in the project.

“N.Y.U. has come aboard and offered to help with design and to help with financing,” said Adrienne Goldberg of Friends of LaGuardia Park.

Additional money will be obtained through fundraising.

In coming up with a new park design, the Friends of LaGuardia Place, Goldberg said, “wanted to honor Al Mcgrath [the group’s late founder] with a memorial and make a garden that’s fun for families.”

Goldberg said that the park is expected to have a more “European feel to it” when it’s renovated.

The park is still in the design stages, however, and a final proposal has yet to be settled upon.

Some of the ideas in the proposals included “breaking up the larger walkways into smaller, kid-friendly paths and adding different types of plants and adding more color to the park,” said C.A.F.’s McCluskey. Animal topiary is also a possibility, she said.

The Center for Architecture will host “A Garden for the Little Flower,” an open forum and family day, on May 12 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for people to learn about landscape design and give input on renovating the garden.

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