|Image: Existing condition (circled), Washington Square Village courtyard, NYU 2031 (source)|
|Image: Aerial view of Washington Square Village courtyard, annotated (larger image)|
|Image (#6 on aerial): Looking south on Wooster from West 3rd Street|
|Image (#4 on aerial): Looking west from the garden|
|Image (#3 on aerial): Looking west from the garden|
|Image (#2 on aerial): Looking east from LaGuardia Place|
|Image (#1 on aerial): Looking east from LaGuardia Place|
|Image (#5 on aerial): Looking east from Wooster Street|
The only mobility-impaired access point to the garden is a ramp on its southeastern edge, off Greene Street.
Instead of razing this 1.5 acre Hideo Sasaki-designed garden (also "one of the first parking structure roof gardens in the country") to fix problems of accessibility, the university could retrofit the garden and the courtyard space: open/remove the gates, improve the pathways between LaGuardia Place and Wooster Street, redesign the staired access points to the garden as well as provide a mobility-impaired access point on the western side of the garden. Landscape maintenance appears to have been deferred and thoughtful garden management could improve sightlines within and through the garden.
In addition to design changes to the gates and garden entrances, signage could be installed to indicate the name of the garden and its hours of use. The garden does not have a formal name in the university's master plan nor is it indicated on the university's way-finding signs, but several community groups refer to the garden as the "Sasaki Garden" at Washington Square Village. The university often incorporates images of the city-owned Washington Square Park; perhaps it should do the same for the Sasaki Garden. (At a recent garden meeting, a volunteer suggested a tree-related logo for the garden.)
On one hand, NYU 2031 states that "[o]ther green spaces [in the Washington Square Village complex] are fragmented and often publicly inaccessible" and on the other it describes the proposed design intent as "break[ing] the vast interior of of Washington Square Village into smaller and more intimate spaces, promoting a park-like atmosphere."
The Key Park playground could be considered publicly inaccessible; it requires a key card but "residents of NYU housing and community members living in the Washington Square neighborhood" can obtain a key via an application.
Of course, the statement about fragmented could be referring to the two grassy areas just west of the garden one of which houses the Grow, Cook, Eat, Learn (GCEL) greenhouses, a community garden project of the NYU Graduate Program in Food Studies and the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Well into a game of bocce on the other lawn area last spring, we prematurely ended our game when a doorman told us to "keep off the grass". The lawn areas are "fragmented" by the driveway of the university's mail service office. Would the university consider using LaGuardia Place for deliveries to create a more cohesive green space?
Or, the lawn areas could be left as is, in there existing "intimate" size and the university could provide bocce balls and moveable tables and chairs to heighten the park-like experience. Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy provides bocce balls in one of the Wharf District Parks but the university does not have to look that far for examples of moveable tables and chairs. Union Square Park has them.
Finally, as for the "semiprivate drives" of the former Wooster and Greene streets, the university could not only return these roadways to their one-way street status -- the streets are one-way streets south of Houston -- (and expand the growing areas for the London planetrees and install sidewalks), it could petition the city to install crosswalks or other infrastructure where Wooster and Greene intersect Bleecker to signal a pedestrian and publicly-accessible realm.
Read our previous essays on NYU 2031 and the Sasaki Garden:
Tree Walk: 13 Endangered Shade Trees at Washington Square Village playground
Washington Square Village in the NYU 2031 Plan
Hideo Sasaki's Garden in Washington Square Village