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harlem lane playground

Location: New York, New York
Client: New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

This project reconstructs Harlem Lane and Frederick Johnson Playgrounds, adjacent New York City Parks, located between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and the Harlem River Drive and 150th and 154th Streets. The project area is 3.81 acres combined. The existing play space in Frederick Johnson has limited play opportunities and is transformed with new play equipment for both younger and older children, much of it accessible. A colored concrete spray area provides a space for park visitors to cool off in-season. The existing framework of canopy trees is maintained with new understory trees and ground level plantings added to provide a sense of human scale and seasonality. New pavements, benches, game and picnic tables and trash receptacles provide the backdrop upon which the playground is enjoyed.

Most notably, however, a new comfort station, with interior space for maintenance and operations programs, is located in the southern portion of the playground. This new building replaces an existing comfort station, near the Harlem River Drive, which is demolished due to its age and lack of accessibility. The new comfort station supports the adjacent new playground and spray area and is more visible from Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and the sidewalk along it, resulting in a greater sense of security for visitors while in the park. The easternmost section of Frederick Johnson Playground retains its handball courts. The temporary soccer

field in the park is maintained in its current location, though modified somewhat due to spatial constraints. A new walkway/ramp mediates the higher grade of Frederick Johnson Playground with the lower one of Harlem Lane: a widened overlook along this walk focuses on the view of the existing tree allee to the north. This walkway is accessible to all park users. As requested by the community, a new picnic area occupies the former play space in Harlem Lane. It is linked to the adjacent Harlem River Houses with a semi-circular sitting area. New benches and picnic tables are included along the tree allee and picnic area. New trees complete the allee where possible and offer shade to the picnic area. Low level plantings occur throughout this space.

In the northern portion of Harlem Lane, undersized basketball courts are replaced with full-size half-courts. The existing stone staircase, currently closed due to disrepair, is reconstructed with its orientation reversed so its steps now allow visitors to enter the park more directly. This staircase connects the sidewalk at the upper elevation along Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard with this lower elevation of Harlem Lane and reintroduces another accessway from the community to the park. In keeping with planning initiatives developed by NYCDOT and NYC Parks to establish links to the main city-wide greenway system, a portion of a bikeway/greenway is threaded throughout the site. This route is a bikeway along portions of its length but also a combined bikeway and walkway where wider dimensions allow.

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