Imagine LaSalle Holds First Workshop

First look at design concepts for Play Garden

Brendan Keany
September 11, 2019 - 8:11 pm

(WBEN Photo/Brendan Keany)

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BUFFALO (WBEN) - On Wednesday evening, Imagine LaSalle held its first workshop since the reveal of the conceptual redesign project in May. The team encouraged families to bring their children to the workshop to share their ideas of what kinds of elements should be considered for the re-imagined park.

The main focal point of this workshop was to gather more ideas on the sophisticated Play Garden and to update the public on the progress of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park. Paul Seck serves as principal at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and he says the idea for the Play Garden is to design a space for all children by utilizing the history of Buffalo.

"What we're doing right now is starting to take ideas we've heard from folks in the concept plan and vision plan, and turn them into different play features and start to take the playground and really give it some strength, but really give it theme," said Seck. "What we're going to want to hear from everyone tonight is what they think about what we're showing them here, what we can do better and engage a lot of children and have them look at things, and I think that's sort of one of the places we get a lot of inspiration from."

The current design of the playground, which Seck notes is nowhere near close to final, is between two and two-and-a-half acres, and the designers are looking to incorporate a lot of nature play into the design. The area is also broken off into separate age groups and incorporates the area's past.

"You'll see components of this that have industrial components to it," he said. "There are slides embedded into that, but instead of going up a stair or ladder and going down a slide, you're actually walking into what looks like a fake silo. Then, you can go in and start to understand how the silo works, and then you can slide out of that."

Andy Rabb is the commissioner for parks and recreation for Buffalo, and he says there is much work that needs to be done yet in conceptualizing the complete layout of the park, but he likes hat he sees so far.

"Of course, we're looking at it from a perspective of durability and long-term sustainability as well," he said. "The picture that was presented tonight may not be the final  design that's created, but it's certainly a wonderful place to start."

He noted that that the Play Garden looks great, but it's not the only important piece of the big picture design.

"We're not designing a piece to the park; we're designing an entire park," said Rabb. "Ultimately, all of these pieces are going to have to fit together for a sustainable park, so it's really...I think there's a lot of wonderful elements that are presented here, and we'll be having continuing conversations with the designers as we refine the ultimate design for the park."

Listen to Rabb's full comments below:

Jaclyn Brown is a North Buffalo resident, and she brought her son, Jasper, to the workshop. Brown says she loves what she's seeing from the early stages of this project.

"I think it's beautiful; it looks like it will be really fun for all ages, and I look forward to taking my kids there," said Brown. "It's a big piece of land, and it's been sitting there kind of unused - it's often trashed - we've been there for the splash pad but for the rest of the year, we don't really go there. If we can find a way that that piece of land is usable for the whole community year-round, that would be a beautiful thing and very well worth the money in my opinion."

Seck says the team is about halfway finished with the schematic design phase of the project, and that will be finished by the end of November. From there, the team will move into design developments, which should take about nine months, and that will move into the construction documents phase. Actual construction isn't expected until the spring of 2022.

Listen to Seck's full comments below:

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