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Providence Journal: Architecture Here and There

Big Apple parks czar to speak next Thursday

By David Brussat

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The Providence Preservation Society has invited the former parks commissioner under Mayor Bloomberg to open this year's lecture series on Thursday, Nov. 14, at a very special location. Adrian Benepe, who has run the NYC park system for 11 years, will open the society's Not Always Easy lectures from the Industrial Trust ("Superman") Building at 5:30. The event is free and open to the public.

Benepe was involved in the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge parks. It will be exciting to learn what he thinks about the effort here to improve Kennedy Plaza. He should have some interesting insights into whether a city this broke can continue its run of major civic projects - moving railroads, moving rivers, moving highways, etc., etc.

"I am excited to come to Providence," said Benepe, who now heads city parks development for the national group Trust for Urban Land. "Providence is well known for its historic architecture and innovative urban planning, but I have yet to really explore what is happening there. I hope to share examples and experiences from other cities across the country and around the world that reveal the potential for quality public space to create better places to live, work and visit. I look forward to diving into this conversation with Providence leaders."

As the society said in urging people to hear Benepe speak: "During his 11-year tenure, he added 730 new acres of parks and public space in NYC, laying the groundwork for an additional 2,000 park acres." He has "worked in the public and non-profit realm as a leader in park and public space conservation, design, construction and operation, in the areas of city planning, arts, culture, historic preservation, and landscape and urban design for his entire career."

I wonder if the owner of the Superman Building, where the event will be held, plans to attend. If so, maybe Benepe can tell him a thing or two about iconic places, exterior building lights and stewardship.

Speaking of Superman, it is frustrating (to quote my wife just now talking to her mother on the phone, but referring to something else) not to be able to be two places at once so that I could attend both this event and the Bulfinch Awards ceremony in Boston. Same night. Drat!