Feb 23, 2012

Innovative Design Envisions a New Life for Central Park Plaza

Central Park Plaza (bing map) has long been a desolate strip plaza on the City’s east side, but its fortunes may be changing. Various proposals and complaints have been made public in recent years including this one on Buffalo Rising and has received coverage on fixbuffalo by David Torke.

Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis have won an international design competition for envisioning a new urban community in the derelict plaza. The two are both faculty members of UB’s School of Architecture and Planning. The competition included over 100 entries from 11 different countries.

Central Park Plaza - Buffalo, NY
Photo Credit: David Torke, fixbuffalo

Their proposal titled, “Free Zoning,” centers on the idea that the public should have complete creative freedom to determine how the plaza will be repurposed. They suggest removing all zoning restrictions on the plaza and allowing the residents to have control over how the new space will develop. The City of Buffalo has been adamant about finding a developer to repurpose the space, still in the mindset that the original use is appropriate. The proposed concept opposes that theory in favor of something totally original. Enjoy this short concept video for how the plaza may be re-imagined.
Check out the competition website (Free Zoning) to see all the details and the ingenious design. The overall concept draws inspiration from the original development patterns of those who initially settled the American frontier. Removing all the zoning restrictions would result in a development, which is completely unconventional in modern planning, but extremely interesting.

The proposal also calls for salvaging the building material from the current buildings on the site for those which would be built in its place. For example, the largest building on site would be demolished, but the foundation would remain and “serve as a seedbed for construction,” as stated in their concept.
Concept from Free Zoning
This has all the potential to be an incredibly unique development in Buffalo and serve as a precedent for how other cities can repurpose their dead plazas. However, the question remains if the leaders in Buffalo are forward-thinking enough to allow the concept to come to fruition.

Views of Buffalo Flickr     -     fixBuffalo     -     The Atlantic Cities     -     The Urbanophile

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