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Fresh new take on Grand Army Plaza - Vital traffic hub gets upgradefor 21st century traffic

Ooh, la, la, Grand Army Plaza is about to undergo a rebirth – as Brooklyn’s version of the Arc de Triomphe.

Elevated pedestrian walks, a year-round green-market and squaring the traffic circle were among the winning ideas as France claimed top dibs to reinvent the 141-year-old entryway to Prospect Park in an international competition coordinated by Design Trust for Public Space, in partnership with the Grand Army Plaza Coalition.

The four winners were announced with ceremony at nearby Bailey Fountain, after being selected from an international crop of more than 200 designers, who hoped to parlay their concepts into cash prizes and bragging rights as Renaissancers of a plaza, once termed as “the only concrete and asphalt roulette wheel in the world.”

The winning groups, who tied for first place – a design team called acc&s2 from Nantes, France, and Guillaume Derrien and Gauthier le Romancer, from Paris – were awarded $5,000, each. The second-place team of Vincent Hertenberger and Andras Jambor received $2,000; and Brooklyn’s Garrison Architects were awarded $1,000 for being placed third.

The designers were called upon to generate new visions for every aspect of New York City’s “greatest unrealized asset,” an 11-acre oval court, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux in 1867, whose aesthetics have been all but absorbed on a concrete battlefield, which pits motorists against pedestrians on a daily basis.

Within 50 years of its construction, the plaza had become such a magnet for dangerous drivers that in 1927 a grassroots group named it the “Death-O-Meter” when it used it as a yardstick in its tally of Brooklyn’s vehicular fatalities.

A selection of the top entries will be exhibited at Grand Army Plaza through October 14.

For more information about the entries, or the exhibit, E-mail info@reinventingGAP.org.

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