Volume 18 • Issue 13 | August 19 - 25, 2005

Rederings of the new design for Liberty Park Plaza. Bottom left, 1997 photo “Joie de Vivre,” Mark di Suvero’s 70-foot sculpture that once was in the Holland Tunnel rotary and will return to Liberty Plaza.

Work begins on Liberty Plaza Park renovation

By Vanessa Romo

A complete renovation of Liberty Plaza Park, located in the heart of Downtown Manhattan between Broadway, Trinity Place, Liberty and Cedar Sts., has been underway for a month making way for the improved 33,000 sq. ft. public space expected to re-open next summer.

The $8-million project funded by owners Brookfield Properties is one of several revitalization efforts in progress in Lower Manhattan.

“It’s going to be so much better than it was,” said company spokesperson, Melissa Coley. “It’ll be much more of a gathering place for the community. Before [the plaza] was basically a thoroughfare and now it’s going to be a warm and inviting place with trees. And it’s great because there are so many more families downtown than there were a few years ago, that they can use all the park space they can get,” she said.

Photo by Peter Bellamy, courtesy of
Mark di Suvero and Spacetime C.C.

Major elements of the renovation include diagonal pathways traversing the park, 54 honey locust trees, one London plane tree, two art sculptures and twice as much seating space as before. More than 35,000 sq. ft. of Atlantic pink granite will cover the plaza and 16 granite tables for playing chess will be installed under the design by Cooper Robertson.

Tourists visiting the park can experience the joy of walking beneath Mark di Suvero’s 70 ft. sculpture “Joie de Vivre” on the park’s southeast corner and lunch time park goers can once again snack beside J. Seward Johnson’s, “Double Check,” The life-size bronze sculpture depicting a businessman looking into his briefcase became a makeshift memorial after 9/11 as a symbol for the workers who died in the towers. Di Suvero’s sculpture used to be in Tribeca in the middle of the Holland Tunnel exit rotary.

Plans to rebuild the park had been in the works before 9/11 but became a priority after sustaining irreparable damage as a result of the attacks. Following the collapse of the World Trade Center, Liberty Plaza Park became an emergency staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Association and the Dept. of Design and Construction until 2003.

Suzanne O’Keefe of the Alliance for Downtown said the organization is excited about the overdue upgrade. “It’s just going to be a wonderful space that is so important because, if you look at a map of Downtown it’s the only open space in the middle of Downtown between City Hall Park and Battery Park.”


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