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Top Designer Chosen to Turn Gated Garden into Public Park

By Mary Johnson | November 7, 2011 7:37am
Landscape architect David Kamp has been tapped to create the new, 10,000-square-foot public park at 1 Sutton Place South.
Landscape architect David Kamp has been tapped to create the new, 10,000-square-foot public park at 1 Sutton Place South.
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Flickr/Zachary Korb

SUTTON PLACE — A renowned landscape architect has been tapped to turn the garden behind the co-op building at 1 Sutton Place South into a $2 million public park.

David Kamp, principal of the firm Dirtworks, has made a name for himself developing therapeutic gardens and designing landscapes that serve individuals with special needs.

“One of his strengths [is incorporating design elements that appeal to] the senses, smell and texture and beauty,” said Charles McKinney, principal urban designer for the New York City Parks Department.

Kamp’s firm is responsible for one of the gardens at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the courtyard of the exclusive Belnord building on the Upper West Side as well as the master plans for the University of Sacramento and the University of Virginia. Kamp has appeared in two documentaries discussing the impact gardens can have on a person’s health and wellbeing.

“[One Sutton Place South] will be the first new park in the neighborhood, and a pretty special one at that,” McKinney said.

The park planned for the East Side address was the subject of a decade-long legal battle between the co-op and the city. That fight came to a close on Tuesday when the two parties reached a deal in which a small portion of the area will remain private, for the use of building residents only, while 10,000 square feet will become a public park.

“We've done what people said we never could," City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin said after the deal was struck earlier this week. "It's a very special piece of waterfront property."

Lappin secured $1 million from the city’s budget to help fund the construction of the park, and the co-op board is chipping in $1 million of its own money toward the project.

Since the board is paying for part of it, they get a say in how it turns out. Members chose David Kamp as designer.

“They wanted to make sure that they brought the best possible amenity to the community,” said attorney Peter Neger, of Bingham McCutchen, who represents the board of 1 Sutton Place South.

The combined funds from the city budget and the co-op board, Neger added, should be enough to cover the big-name designer and the construction.

Kamp has not yet signed a contract with the city or the board for the job, but he has been informally involved in the project for some time and has already proposed a basic design concept, Neger said.

Kamp declined to comment on his work with the park since it is still in the early stages, and Neger explained that his preliminary design would have to change, based on on engineering studies that will be conducted and also the park's boundaries, which were officially outlined in the land deal.

The final plans will also have to be presented to Community Board 6 for approval.