On Saturday, October 28th, mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh led the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Beautiful Pavilion at Nash Park, a structure created to honor the “beautiful mind and the loving heart” of the Nobel Prize Winner Dr. John Nash and his wife and mental health-care advocate Alicia Nash, both long-time West Windsor residents. The ceremony also recognized the various sponsors of the Beautiful Pavilion and introduced a donation campaign by the Friends of West Windsor Open Space to fund sculptures of Dr. John and Alicia Nash.
The initial idea for creating a park near downtown West Windsor began in 1998, with the formation of the mayor’s Open Space Task Force, designed to survey and plan for the use of open space for either active or environmental recreation. The property that is now Nash Park was originally donated to the township to be the location for a firehouse, however the property was deemed too small, so it became open space that was later considered to be a location for a park in the central of downtown Princeton Junction. “That was the initial concept, a town green with gardens along the edges. We decided to make the space in the middle the size of a regulation croquet lawn, about a 100 feet by a 100 feet,” township Landscape Architect Daniel Dobrimilsky said.
The property became relevant again later when the township was working on sustainability plans and was looking for ways to improve social life. “One of the concepts we came up was a community garden, since it is a nice way to share traditions and understand each other better. So I came up with the idea of having an Asian-themed garden, because we had a growing Asian population, and most of the landscapes in the area really followed traditional European designs,” Dobrimilsky said.
In fact, two of Dobrimilsky’s interns, Christopher Perez and Yan Zhou, were crucial in developing the park plans. Perez was taking classes at Rutgers University while interning for Dobrimilsky in the summer of 2015, and was looking for things to work on, so Dobrimilsky suggested developing plans for the park. “Together we worked on designs for the park, with a gazebo, a pond, different designs for Japanese garden, an Asian-Indian garden, etc.” Later, Yan Zhou helped refine the plans by digitizing and modifying them during the winter of 2016 and the spring of 2017.
Currently, the park has various features that are inspired from Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and other Asian cultures. It includes a Japanese garden with a zig-zag bridge, an Asian-Indian garden with a faux canal, a charbagh (quadrilateral garden), among other features. Many of these designs were part of Eagle Scout projects, and these Scouts continue to develop new ideas for the park, such as growth-controlled bamboos near a modern moongate.
Discussing the park, Dobriminsky remarked that it was “one of the rare things where you start with a concept around 14 years ago and now it’s come to fruition.”
Meanwhile, mayor Hsueh was searching for a name for this park, and realized that he wanted to dedicate it to Dr. John Nash, a Nobel Prize winning mathematician and resident of West Windsor. Nash had attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology and later joined the Ph.D program at Princeton University after being proclaimed “a mathematical genius” in a recommendation letter. He went on to teach at MIT and developed crucial mathematical and economic models such as the Nash equilibrium before he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Dr. Nash’s life was the basis for the 1998 book A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar and 2001 movie of the same name, both which served as the inspiration for the future name of the Beautiful Pavilion. “I always admired Dr. Nash and his story. He was a genius,” Hsueh exclaimed.
Alongside Dr. Nash’s immense contributions to the fields of mathematics and economics, mayor Hsueh believed this recognition was fitting because the park had an Asian theme and Dr. Nash had spent a considerable time in China giving lectures on the invite of Chinese mathematics associations. “I had been in communication with Dr. Nash on and off, and in 2014 I made a phone call to him and suggested the idea of naming the park after him to see if he had any objections.”
In response, Dr. Nash laughed and inquired as to why something should be named after the living. However, after Dr. John and Alicia Nash’s death in a tragic car accident on May 23rd, 2015, mayor Hsueh “made up my mind and decided to name the park after them.”
The park itself was dedicated on October 23rd, 2016, and a plaque was placed reading ‘This is a beautiful place for a beautiful mind and a loving heart.’ “Without his wife, Dr. Nash would never have gotten to where he was without his wife, and his wife would not have gotten to where she was without him. The helped each other, and they made the world much better,” Hsueh said.
Two years before, in 2014, mayor Hsueh had showed the plans and location for an Asian-themed garden to a group of visitors from the Chinese National Academy of Painting. “The artists said (the dedication) would not be a bad idea, because it would be something they could use to celebrate the life of Dr. Nash. Those days, they started talking about the donation of a Chinese pavilion to be built,” Hsueh said.
After his death in 2015, the process was expedited. “Frankly, I never expected they would give a gift to West Windsor, but then the started talking to me about the site and the dimensions for the pavilion, and I slowly found out that they took everything seriously. Before I know it, they already have an architect (Shanghai UA Design) with a unique design for the pavilion.”
Though mayor Hsueh officially revealed the signs and the plaque of the Beautiful Pavilion on October 28th, the Pavilion had already been in use by residents. “I was told that there are people there for photography, yoga, and meditation already,” Hsueh chuckled.
The Beautiful Pavilion is 32 feet fall, and 14.5 feet in diameter, with a pentagon-shaped based. Originally, Chinese architects were supposed to come to West Windsor to help build the Pavilion, however due to work visa denials, Dobrimilsky coordinated with the Chinese workers using local translators, such as “Linda” Yanbo Znoska from the Windsor Athletic Club, as well as WeChat to share problems, solutions, and videos.
While the Pavilion is unique, it is not one-of-a-kind. In fact, two identical pavilions exist in China, one in Mount Emei --a common lecture site for Dr. Nash -- and the other in a hometown of a major donor. Donors for the Pavilion included President of the Chinese National Academy of Painting Yang Xiaoyang, founder of the New Jersey Art Academy Zhou Yong, and CEO of the Mt. Emei Banyan Tree Group Luo Mingguang. Hsueh noted that, due to these donors, no taxpayer money was used in the building of this pavilion.
These donors, along with the Friends of West Windsor Open Space organization helped fund the pavilion and the ceremony. However, the Friends of West Windsor Open Space continues to search for donations, this time in order to design sculptures of Dr. John Nash and Alicia Nash that would be situated in the Park. According to a press release from the mayor’s office, the “sculpture will be created by artist Gyuri Hollosy of Grounds for Sculpture (who will be) assisted by Joseph W. Acquah.”
Information on donating: All donations are to be made payable to “FOWWOS” and are tax deductible. Please add a note “for Nash Park” to your check and forward to Friends of West Windsor Open Space, P.O. Box 73, West Windsor, New Jersey 08550.
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