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Perseverance Park design to reflect seasons & history of Syracuse

Ellen Abbott
Artist's rendering of the new design for Perseverance Park in Syracuse.

The wraps are off the early design for a new Perseverance Park in downtown Syracuse. The idea is to create a park with public art that draws people to the area on South Salina Street between Armory and Clinton Squares..

Jerry Van Eyck, of the New York design firm !melk, has been pondering Perseverance Park on South Salina Street for months now.

“It’s a space that’s the epicenter of downtown that is very underwhelmed and underwhelming, and we intend to change that,” said Van Eyck

Van Eyck is proposing a design with a new park anchored by a huge piece of public art that will be unique to Syracuse, taking into account the history and seasons of Syracuse, with a confluence of swirly lines that evoke snow trails, lined with benches.  And it seamlessly melts into the focal point of the park -- a piece of public art that has been described as a kind of giant snow globe. 

London artist Cecil Balmond looks at it as a stainless steel vortex, partially covered by glass. And it will allow people to go inside.

“If you shrink it all into just one pillar of steel, you just look at something. But it’s nice to walk through it, and the way we’ve designed it with !melk, is you walk through it, it’s a panorama, it’s a parade, so you enjoy a park just not the horizontal, but there vertical and you enjoy space better," said Balmond.

The sculpture will play to the weather. The sun will sparkle off the glass in summer, rain will swirl down vortex channels in spring, and snow will fall inside in winter. There will be a platform inside. 

SUNY ESF landscape design professor George Curry and design coordinator for the project says this is more than art, it’s something that can drive economic activity.

"It’s been proven over and over again, there have been scientific studies that actually take numbers and show that is happening," said Curry.

City officials say the goal is to have it in place by the end of next year. The project will cost between $2-4 million and will be funded from sources dedicated to art and architecture.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.