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Van Valkenburgh's Brooklyn Bridge Park Design Honored

The Brooklyn Bridge Park's waterfront along the East River stretches 1.3 miles from the Manhattan Bridge to the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side of the river.

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On Jan. 31, 2011, the Municipal Art Society of New York in a ceremony at the Park Avenue Armory presented landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh with the 2010 Brendan Gill Prize for the design of Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO. (Nothing to do with that cute Disney elephant, rather the Brooklyn neighborhood ''Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.'' Why the ''down'' and not just ''under'' is a mystery.)

''Landscape is a lively and challenging medium, and Michael showed mastery of vision in reconnecting thousands of city dwellers and visitors alike to the majesty of New York Harbor,'' said MAS President Vin Cipolla at the ceremony.

The team from Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates turned a desolate waterfront of shipping piers under the Brooklyn Bridge into Brooklyn Bridge Park. MAS held its annual meeting last year at the park, which opened in March 2010. The park has already become an important urban space for a wide variety of activities.

The Brendan Gill Prize is named after the New Yorker theater critic and former MAS president. The prize was established in 1986 by MAS board members Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Helen Tucker and Margot Wellington. The cash prize is funded by a permanent endowment and is awarded annually to a work of art or design that best embodies the spirit of the city and Brendan Gill.

Mr. Cipolla noted the dynamic design has succeeded in reconnecting thousands in the city and visitors to the harbor.

''As cities, we have used up the conventional places for park making,'' observed Valkenburgh. ''Landscape architects work on disenfranchised sites, abnormal places for making landscapes.''

The park covers 85 acres and provides traditional park features such as green space and playgrounds, but also for such activities as kayaking.

Valkenburgh said the award, which has previously been awarded to artists in a number of different disciplines, is a tribute to landscape architecture.

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October 17, 2019, 9:24 am PDT

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