Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Astoria Pool diving board: Asset or eyesore?
From the NY Times:
Astoria, Queens, is about to get its first outdoor amphitheater, situated where an Art Deco diving pool, built in the 1930s, fell into disuse decades ago. Plans call for filling the pool, at Astoria Park, with concrete to make way for the performance space, but the pool complex has been declared a landmark, a designation that means any changes would require a review by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Accordingly, there are a few things that probably will not change: namely, the triple-tiered Bauhaus-style diving board.
That will most likely remain, smack in the middle of downstage, posing quite a challenge to set designers.
Dorothy Lewandowski, the Queens parks commissioner, said demolishing the diving board was never considered. “We’re not looking to create a Lincoln Center; we’re paying tribute to what was once there before, and create a new adaptive use,” she said.
Not everyone sees it that way. “Having a diving board facing the majority of your audience in a center stage position is untenable,” said Melanie Joseph, the founding and artistic director of the Foundry Theater, who has staged performances in such unconventional settings as a tour bus. “The strongest place onstage is center stage, and you don’t have that as a playing area,” she said.
In theory, the Landmarks Preservation Commission could still approve a plan to remove the diving board, if one were submitted, said Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the commission.