Designed and built by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1867, Prospect Park is filled with forests, waterfalls, lawns, and lakes, where residents once had unobstructed access to the waterfront. Then, in 1960, Wollman Rink was built on the eastern shore of Prospect Park's lake, completely obstructing the view Olmsted worked so hard to create. But a new project, aptly named Lakeside, is currently underway that will restore the lake's waterfront to its original beauty while also renovating 26 acres of parkland. The Lakeside project will add three new acres of green space to the park, and it will feature a LEED certified year-round recreational facility built by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.
The highlight of the $74 million Lakeside project is the new 25,000 square foot facility that will be open to the public by January 2013. The old ice skating rink was only open during the winter, meaning that the whole area remained unused for most of the year. The new facility will have two outdoor rinks, one covered and one not, meaning that residents will be able to skate year-round. In the winter, the rinks will be used for ice skating and hockey, and in the warmer months they’ll host water activities and roller skating.
The LEED-seeking building will also have a cafe with an open dining area and new spaces for environmental learning. A new boat dock will be built where visitors can rent paddle boats to explore the lake, and some 15,000 square feet of viewing terraces will provide direct access to the water’s edge. A new promenade will meander on the lake’s shore, allowing walkers and joggers to enjoy the waterfront. Other renovations include changes to the park’s entrance that will reduce vehicular traffic and increase pedestrian safety.
The Lakeside project, which broke ground last December, is the largest renovation ever undertaken in Prospect Park, and it has received strong support from the Park’s elected officials. $40.5 million has been committed to Lakeside by the Office of the Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Brooklyn Delegation and Speaker Christine Quinn, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Federal funding has been secured by U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke and former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner. Public and private donors have also greatly contributed, with JP Morgan Chase bank donating $1.6 million just this week.
There will be a “topping off” ceremony next week to mark Lakeside’s progress, and you can follow Lakeside’s construction updates here.