By Julie Shapiro
FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Imagine standing at the top of a rippling Frank Gehry building and riding its curves like a slide all the way to the bottom.
That experience may be what Gehry had in mind when he designed his first playground, estimated to cost $10 million and which could open as soon as 2012 in Battery Park.
The playground will feature Gehry’s trademark twisted metal, in the form of three tall slides, said Warrie Price, president of the Battery Conservancy, as she revealed the first details of Gehry’s design Wednesday night.
“They go whoosh, whoosh, whoosh,” Price said, waving her hands from one side to the other to demonstrate the curves. “We’re trying to do things you can’t find in other playgrounds.”
Gehry also designed a birdhouse that's for children, not birds. The idea is to get kids off the ground and “feel like you’re a bird,” Price said.
Other features include a small amphitheater where children can put on plays and “improv structures” that could become a house or a school depending on a child’s imagination.
“Things are wonderfully free,” Price said. “A child’s sense of free-spiritedness [is reflected] in the design elements.”
The $10 million Battery Playspace would expand the current stark playground by 40 percent, absorbing an unsightly maintenance yard. Gehry is donating his design.
The Battery Conservancy has about $5 million so far and hopes to raise the rest through donations and government grants.
Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee unanimously supported the project Wednesday night and passed a resolution urging elected officials to fund the “vibrant and enchanting space.”
Price emphasized that the design is still preliminary. She is working with the city Parks Department to ensure it meets safety codes, and it will also have to go before the city Public Design Commission.
Price hopes to unveil a model of the design in November.