Creating a long-term vision for Symphony Woods is to be applauded. However, I feel the Inner Arbor's vision is inappropriate. Architectural plans and supporting rhetoric are limited in their ability to express the reality of what is being proposed. The Inner Arbor's vision is totally dependent on novelty, the challenging size of proposed improvements and the carnival nature of the forms and uses that dominate and trivialize the natural setting.
Imagine the Caterpillar, the world's longest metal structure, three football fields in length, snaking its way through the park. Imagine a 300-foot long picnic table covered with artificial turf cutting through the center of the park. For every Eiffel Tower there are many other abandoned World's Fair icons that were large, challenging, suggesting the future. Novelty will be short lived followed by many years of out of fashion, dated appearance, inactive with huge maintenance implications.
As Town Center grows and evolves, what would be more attractive and cost effective than an enduring natural setting? Central Park in New York is iconic and active, surrounded by prime development and nature is predominant, not a novelty. The physical reality of what is being proposed by the Inner Arbor design team will not create an iconic gesture that recaptures Columbia original vision and enthusiasm.
As an urban design and planning professional with 45 years of international experience, I believe the park's natural setting and its central role within the larger Columbia community deserves a solution appropriate for next week and 100 years from now.