The planned makeover of Washington Square Park inched closer to reality yesterday following a decision by the state appeals court. The new ruling lifts an injunction imposed last summer in response to allegations that the Parks Department had not sufficiently disclosed its renovation plans to Community Board 2, The Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Art Commission.
The proposed redesign represents an obsessive scratching of the neo-Beaux-Arts itch. The curious notion that the fountain must at all costs be shifted to create a rigid visual axis with the triumphal arch (designed by Stanford White in 1892) diverges from both Olmsteadian or "naturalistic" landscape theory and contemporary landscape design exemplified in more progressive projects such as the upcoming Highline and Fresh Kills parks. Or should the Highline be rerouted to line up with, say, the Freedom Tower?