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Photo: Christie Farriela

Created as the site of the 1939/40 and 1964/65 World’s Fairs – international expositions intended to “lift the spirits of the nation” – Flushing Meadows Corona Park was originally built to funnel thousands of ticket-holders into and around its themed exhibits, pavilions, and architectural follies. Today, more than 75 years later, 7 million New Yorkers a year flock to this former fairground for its 897 acres of open space, its sports centers [U.S. Open tennis tournament and NY Mets] and its cultural amenities [New York Hall of Science, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre, and Queens Zoo]. However, with its confusing circulation paths and outdated fairground design, Flushing Meadows Corona Park is ready for a makeover. 

Given Flushing‘s polyglot nature as one of the most ethnically diverse places on earth, the questions arise: What does the community want and How does the City find this out? The World's Park: Reconnecting a Regional Park with its Neighbors is a new project led by the Design Trust for Public Space, in partnership with the NYC Parks Department and the Queens Museum, to work with local residents in the planning, design, and stewardship of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

background

In 2014, we conducted an open Request for Proposals called The Energetic City to give life to the city by connecting people through innovative design informed by the needs and aspirations of community users. An independent jury selected a proposal by NYC Parks and the Queens Museum to use a series of educational workshops and neighborhood forums to develop new proposals for how the access, connectivity, and circulation of this regional destination can better serve the public’s needs.

process

The World’s Park Fellows developed a curriculum for a new model of participatory planning in Queens, the nation’s most diverse county. Over the course of twelve weeks, 23 Community Advisors from the surrounding neighborhoods gathered to analyze, plan, debate, and design new ideas for the park’s biggest challenges. The Community Design School demonstrated a community planning process where community members formulated and initiated the improvements they wanted to see in their park.

Community Advisors

Community Advisors, recruited to become advocates and effective partners with the NYC Parks’ effort to initiate community-led enhancements in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, represent a wide range of ages, professional and cultural backgrounds, and every neighborhood that surrounds the Park. Among the organizations represented are: FMCP Conservancy, Make the Road NY, Evergreen Community Garden, Immigrant Movement International, Queensboro Hill Civic Association, Forest Hills Civic Association, Korean Community Services, Asian Americans for Equality, and Sustainable Queens.

Community Design School

The Community Advisors attended the Community Design School to acquire the planning, design, and stewardship skills to improve and maintain the park. Working alongside members of NYC Parks, the Queens Museum and the Design Trust Fellows team, they have developed ideas for the park's enhancement in four focus groups: Access, Navigation, Opportunity, and Learning. The advisors presented their initial design concepts to a broader community for feedback at a forum on March 1, 2015, at the Queens Museum. The Museum exhibited the final concepts from April 12 - May 3, 2015. The design ideas include information kiosks, art installations, wayfinding landmarks, and play areas for children with special needs. Learn more about each design concept. 

How-To Publication

In December 2015, the Design Trust and its Fellows published Building the Community Design School at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, a booklet outlining how the School came to be, providing the political context of the park, and describing the classroom structure and lessons plans of the School. The Spanish edition, Desarrollo de la Escuela para el Diseño Comunitario en el Parque de Flushing Meadows, was released in September, 2016. The Community Design School planning model can transform the traditional relationship between institutions and communities. As an open and collaborative school that brings everyday citizens and public service stewards together to learn, create, and design, it is applicable to a range of public spaces. We will continue to test the replicability of this model.

Next Steps

The newly formed Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance, and corresponding Community Advisory Board, launched in December 2015, includes Community Advisors from The World’s Park project. We expect the model will strongly inform the role and structure of the emerging Community Advisory Board as a proactive body charged with setting the comprehensive vision for the park.

I believe this is the right moment to open up our planning and design process in creative new ways to the diverse communities that surround the park.

Mitchell J. Silver, Commissioner, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation

Key Milestones

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Conduct Request for Proposals

July 2014

An independent jury selected a proposal by NYC Parks and the Queens Museum to improve the connectivity between Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the neighboring communities.

Photo: William Michael Fredericks

Define scope

August 2014

The Community Design School was conceived as a series of educational workshops and neighborhood forums to develop new proposals for how the access, connectivity, and circulation of Flushing Meadows Corona Park can better serve the public’s needs.

Photo: Sam Holleran

Assemble team

September 2014

We assembled an interdisciplinary team of Fellows, experts in design education and community organizing.

Photo: Michael William Fredericks, Sam Holleran

Recruit community members

October 2014

Our Community Organizing Fellow José Serrano-McClain cultivated 23 Community Advisors for the Community Design School. 

Photo: Sam Hollearn

Community Design School kick-off

December 2014

Over the course of twelve weeks, 23 Community Advisors gathered to analyze, plan, debate, and design new ideas for the park’s biggest challenges.

Photo: Sam Holleran

Gather community input

March 2015

We held our first community forum at the Queens Museum.

Photo: William Michael Fredericks

Gather more community input

April 2015

Community Advisors exhibited their final design concepts and we held another community forum at the Queens Museum.  

Photo: William Michael Fredericks

Develop replicable model

December 2015

We published Building the Community Design School at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, a resource for anyone interested in community-driven design.

Create impact

December 2015

Our model will strongly inform the newly formed Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance.

Photo: Ozgur Gungor
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