By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
There was an all-out preservation fight to save Skyline, one of the biggest and most contentious ones in my memory. The struggle garnered national attention in the architectural press and even led to the founding of an ad hoc group, Friends of Skyline Park, specifically created to save the place.
A 1970s masterpiece by Lawrence Halprin, Skyline's unusual design was magical, allowing visitors to enter a recessed garden defined by raised planters, fountains and integral seating. This below-grade feature, though aesthetically effective, was Skyline's undoing. It was used by the park's enemies as evidence that the design itself encouraged occupation by scruffy teenagers.
As illogical as this argument was, it worked, and Halprin's Skyline is now only a memory and a few fragments, including the old sign (above). These fragments, detached from their original context, look like ruins, but in fact, they're the only things about the new Skyline Park that are worth seeing.
The reason why is because there wasn't enough money to complete the design by Thomas Balsley, a hotshot New York landscape architect. So Balsley oversaw the destruction of Halprin's Skyline without being able to see his own design fully realized. It's both a delicious irony and something I believe is called "karma."
In fairness, there is a kind of brilliance to the new park, at least from a city-government standpoint: Unlike with Halprin's park, when Balsley's design is threatened with demolition in the future, city bureaucrats won't need to fend off the preservationists, because there won't be any.