By Brian J. Pape
West Village residents and tourists will soon welcome a new public park on the site where the Loew’s Sheridan Theatre, and later St. Vincent’s Hospital materials handling facility, once stood.
Designed by New York City–based M. Paul Friedberg & Partners, the sixteen-thousand-square-foot park, called St. Vincent’s Triangle Park for now, is a composition of curving benches, colorful plantings, and numerous trees. A wrought-iron fence encloses the triangular plot, which features light-toned pavers and curvilinear paths leading to a small lawn at the park’s center. Play areas and water jets are also programmed for the space.
The truncated prow of the former theater, built in 1921, with classical treatment and enormous theatre marquee, was immortalized by the artist Edward Hopper.
Replacing the demolished theater, a one-story St. Vincent’s Hospital Materials Handling Facility, with deep basement and tunnel connecting to the O’Toole Building, was completed in 1987.
The entire triangular block on Seventh Avenue and Greenwich Avenue has been deeded to the city as a concession to the community and the city, by developers Rudin Management, Eyal Ofer and Global Holdings, as part of their “Greenwich Lane” development. The developers agreed to cover the cost of the $10 million new park. City Parks Department will then maintain the park.
“It’s designed to be a classic West Village park,” Bill Rudin, the CEO of Rudin Management, told the Wall Street Journal. The design showcases the New York City AIDS Memorial in the park’s northwestern point.
Brooklyn-based Studio a+i, with the structural engineers Robert Silman Associates, won a competition to design the memorial in 2012, but its scheme was simplified at the request of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Parks Department, partly to avoid the temptation for humans of all ages to climb up and over it. An angular canopy structure eighteen feet tall covers a circular water feature. In March 2015, the memorial’s planners announced that artist Jenny Holzer will also contribute to the memorial, by adding 8,992 words from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself inscribed into paving stones spiraling around the memorial’s water feature.
New York City already has an AIDS Memorial in the Hudson River Park at the foot of West 11th Street, but the new one will make the connection to the bankrupt hospital that treated so many dying AIDS patients. Financed by NYC AIDS Memorial, according to the group’s founders Christopher Tepper and Paul Kelterborn, construction of the memorial and associated educational programs will cost about $4 million. The sponsors hope to raise $2.5 million from public sources and $1.5 million privately.
The Greenwich Lane is a $1 billion project with average prices of $3,500 a square foot with about two-hundred residences in the towers and townhouses. 145 West 11th
Street will be the first of the buildings to welcome residents in September 2015.
The new park is scheduled to open this summer and the memorial is slated to be unveiled in time for World AIDS Day in early December 2015.