Frank Gehry: Inner Arbor plans 'deeply disturb me' [Letter]

I have recently been made aware of plans for Symphony Woods that deeply disturb me ("Inner Arbor plans 'wow' Howard Co. design panel," Feb. 27). I remember Symphony Woods as a wooded site that was selected to be Columbia's Town Center Park. In 1965 Jim Rouse and his planners hired my firm to design the Music Pavilion for the Washington National Symphony. The walk through the woods to the pavilion site inspired my design.

Now I understand the proposed Inner Arbor plan, which ignores Jim Rouse's original vision, will scatter out-of-scale "attractions" instead of creating a beautiful park around the pavilion. After the pavilion was completed, Rouse planners decided that the wooded site was so beautiful that the area should be maintained in its natural state until the community determined the need for a walk system and pedestrian amenities.

On a recent visit to Columbia, people discussed the need to improve the pavilion and the park enclosing it. On this visit, I reviewed and approved a plan for Symphony Woods Park. I'm told the Columbia Association and the Columbia Architects collaborated with CA staff and their consultants for four years. They assured me that the plan preserves 90 percent of the woodland landscape. I found that the pathways to the pavilion, the central gathering space, interactive fountain and café were appropriate as a setting for the pavilion and for the pleasure of the community.

I urge the Columbia Association take a second hard look at the plan prepared by the Columbia Architects. I was told that CA allocated funding for the first phase of the park in 2012. The CA Board should implement the Symphony Woods Park plan.

Frank Gehry, Los Angeles

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