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Prospect Park's New Skating Rink on Track to Open Next Year

Officials toasted major benchmark in construction of $74 million "Lakeside Center" to turn rink into four-season recreational facility.

Officials drank a sparkling juice toast today to celebrate a major benchmark in construction of Prospect Park’s new skating rink.

The milestone, known as “topping off,” marked completion of the structure for the rink’s canopy, which, at 28 feet, will be the project’s highest point. At the event, officials were invited to sign a beam that will become a permanent part of the structure.

Click here to see more photos of the event.

“Topping off a building usually involves reaching a height of greater than 28 feet, but I say it’s not the height of the building, it’s the height of its aspirations that truly matters," said Prospect Park Alliance President Emily Lloyd to the dozens of park officials and local politicians assembled in the drizzle for the event.  

Called , the $74 million mega-project is a far cry from the park’s beloved-but-decrepit Wollman Rink, which was demolished earlier this year. 

In the winter there will be two skating rinks—one for figure skating and the other for hockey, which will be connected by an 8-foot ice strip, allowing skaters to zip back and forth. In the summer they will convert to a roller-skating rink and a “water play” area with sprinklers and a wading/reflecting pool. 

A new building will house the outdoor Chase Café (to which the JP Morgan Chase Foundation ), educational and recreational space and public restrooms.

The 26-acre project also includes restoration of the original Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux landscape design for the lake, which will be expanded by 5 acres with a “music island” in the center. The island will be used as a stage for performers, with the surrounding shoreline set up for concert-goers to sit on blankets and beach chairs.

There will also be a new boat dock, 1500-foot lakeshore promenade for joggers and walkers, 15,000-square-feet of viewing terraces, and expanded picnic areas, walkways and open lawns.

For project designers Christian Zimmerman, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the goal is to highlight the park’s natural vistas, rather than its man-made additions.

“In the end it’s not a building. In the end it’s all about making more park,” said Zimmerman.

Thus, the café and educational space will be built nested into a hillside, with the green roof serving as a viewing terrace and the canopy’s columns are placed to maximize the view of the lake on the rink’s edge.

“It’s really going to be about viewing the landscape,” said Williams.

But Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has a more pragmatic view: “It will be a wonderful location for families. … And, I want this to be a place for young people to—as they use the term—hook up.”

The project is on track to be completed in winter of 2012/13, officials said.

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