General Abstract

1 - The Belvedere in Central Park: Adapting to Change, Preserving Purpose

Monday, September 24
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: BNCC- 101AH

Easily the most familiar architectural feature of New York’s City’s world-famous and landmarked park, the miniature castle known as the Belvedere was conceived as an open-air folly, serving solely as a lookout tower. “Belvedere” literally translates from Italian as “beautiful view,” and Central Park’s was sited on some of the highest ground in the park, on a large rock outcropping at the corner of the old Croton Reservoir. The smaller of two receiving reservoirs within the limits of the original park, that 31-acre rectangular structure was demolished in the early 1930s and redeveloped as parkland. While the views and surrounding context are thus dramatically altered from what they were at the time of construction, the Belvedere’s essential purpose and value is the same today as it was upon its completion in 1871; restoring it consistent with that purpose and expanding access to the essential experience it offers is the guiding principle of the Belvedere’s preservation.

Over the course of its 150-year history, significant changes to the Belvedere’s original use and context were accompanied by related modifications to the original structure and park circulation connecting to it. Chief among these was the conversion of the castle for use as a U.S. Weather Bureau station in 1919, and construction of the Great Lawn, Belvedere Lake, and related park circulation on the site of the old Croton Reservoir in 1936.

By the early 1980s, having been shuttered and severely vandalized for two decades, the Belvedere was reopened as a visitor center following an early restoration project by the newly-formed Central Park Conservancy. The scope and design of that project reflected certain limitations, including budgetary constraints, operational considerations, and technical limitations of that period. Subsequent work, including a comprehensive core and shell restoration currently underway, has built on and improve aspects of the initial restoration in the context of evolving park use and management, advancements in construction practices and technology, continued research, and a more indepth understanding of the history of the site. Additionally, plans in development to create an ADA-accessible route to as the next phase of the current project reflect contemporary expectations and standards for accessibility in a park that was meant to be open and inviting to all.

The Belvedere as a case study illustrates how Conservancy’s role in the stewardship of the Park provides an opportunity to approach preservation as an ongoing relationship to the historic resource, revisiting and refining projects over the course of decades, and benefiting from the experience and perspective of sustained involvement and connection to the resource. A review of projects over the last 30 years will highlight lessons learned and insights earned through this approach.

Lane Addonzio, AICP

Vice President for Planning
Central Park Conservancy

Ms. Addonizio is responsible for managing the Conservancy’s Planning, Design and Construction department and its execution of the physical planning effort and restoration program for the Park. Prior to joining the Central Park Conservancy in 2002, she worked with Conservancy founder Elizabeth Barlow Rogers at the Cityscape Institute, a small not-for-profit formed to assist community groups and municipalities with public space improvement initiatives. As a campus planner for Harvard University's planning and real estate division, she collaborated with project teams of architects, preservation consultants, regulatory analysts and others on the development of project plans for the University's campus.


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Denise Keaveney, AIA

Studio Director for Architecture
Central Park Conservancy

Since 2015, Denise Keaveney has directed project teams of inhouse staff and consultants in the execution of the Conservancy’s program of architectural restoration and construction projects. Prior to joining the Conservancy, her experience at firms including Perkins Eastman and Bond Street Architects spanned a variety of project types and scales, including both residential and institutional clients, and ranging from complex restoration work and structural interventions to innovative new construction and interior renovations. In addition to a comprehensive restoration of the iconic Belvedere, Ms. Keaveney’s Central Park portfolio includes and the renovation and restoration of several visitor centers, comfort stations, and operational facilities, and the reconstruction of historic park accessory structures and rustic shelters.


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Chris Nolan, FASLA

Chief Operating Officer & Chief Landscape Architect
Central Park Conservancy

Serving as the Park’s chief landscape architect since 1996, Chris Nolan was named Chief Operating Officer of the Conservancy in 2016. In this dual role, he leads the restoration and management work that is central to the Conservancy’s mission as the organization responsible for the stewardship of Central Park. Along with a multidisciplinary inhouse team of planning and design professionals responsible for planning, design, construction of the Park’s landscapes, structures, and infrastructure, Mr. Nolan oversees the park managers, horticulturalists, and technicians who maintain the Park and Conservancy staff responsible for visitor services and public programs.


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David G. Woodcock, FAIA, FSA, FAPT

Professor Emeritus of Architecture & Director Emeritus, Center for Heritage Conservation
Texas A&M University

David Woodcock grew up near Manchester, England and received professional qualifications in Architecture and in Town and Country Planning from the University of Manchester. Following a Fulbright Grant to teach at the A&M College of Texas in 1962, he returned to England in 1966 to teach and practice in Canterbury. He returned to Texas A&M University in 1970, teaching urban design and architecture and developing cross-disciplinary graduate education in historic preservation, based in a university-wide research, teaching and outreach unit. His research focused on building documentation and analysis and heritage education. He served as APT President in 2000-2001.


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1 - The Belvedere in Central Park: Adapting to Change, Preserving Purpose

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