I remain opposed to the new plan for Symphony Woods as well as the process that has gotten it to the apparent finish line so quickly.
CABD approved Cy Paumier's plan several years ago. If another architect had ideas why wasn't there an effort to combine talents and, perhaps, produce a plan all parties could approve?
Since there seems no real hurry to improve Symphony Woods, why not consider a more interactive, inclusive, holistic approach?
The mall is a consumption entity belonging to Howard Hughes Corp., as well as others and with adjacent parts belonging to CA. Symphony Woods is a CA-owned public park with Merriweather Post Pavilion and empty acreage behind it belonging to Howard Hughes Corp. and Toby's Dinner Theater adjacent to it.
Perhaps blending the two main functions of the area would produce an inclusive, interdisciplinary, holistic place with public participation benefiting both business and providing more exposure to the arts.
I suggest that CA research Art Space. These projects redevelop buildings in the middle of commercial retail locations into galleries, studios and classes. Students from HCC could serve as active participants earning academic credits and high school students earning community service credits. Howard Hughes Corp. might research such an idea since it brings people in and keeps their attention.
There is also the Hershey Children's Garden located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. It consumes three acres of child-scaled interactive gardens of incredible beauty and has a small museum, garden shop adjacent to it, all emphasizing local plants and environmental responsibility. The same student involvement mentioned above could apply.
In short, the current situation with its political ramifications is totally unnecessary. But since this is where it is why not a fresh look?
I will always regret that Columbia no longer has the African Art Museum. It belongs in the center of the mall and is a huge loss for all. Let's not overlook or miss other opportunities.
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