On the Boards: Deepening the experience of vast water and big sky

As buildings have been demolished on the southern tip of Governors Island, raw open space has been created in the footprints of the old structures.  We’ve been working with the West 8 design team to imagine ways of giving this space character and turning a flat barren area into a great destination. This transformation will happen in a number of ways.

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Looking north in the afternoon, 02.19.09. With some of the non-historic buildings down, we're seeing even more of the vast sky that surrounds the Island. West 8's design will highlight this sense of openness and exposure in some areas, while playing with the experience of shade and suprise in others.

For example, the tip of the Island is one of the few places in New York City to see a broad horizon but today it is a sea of asphalt next to a desolate motor pool and old warehouses.  The views here out to the water are spectacular, but it’s not an enjoyable place to spend time.

We’ve asked the West 8 team for a park design that deepens a visitor’s experience of the vast water and big sky. In response, the design team has been studying the Island at all times of day – in the rain, the wind, the sun, and the snow.  They’ve walked the water’s edge over and over and gotten to know the specific moods and qualities of the site – like the aspects of shifting light, the sensations  of the waves and changing tides, and the smells and sounds of various spots along the water’s edge.  Their research is informing each design decision big and small – everything from where to place the walking paths in relationship to the water, to what types of trees to plant and where for shade, to the design of seating for boat-watching and people watching, to the comfort of a guardrail for leaning against when at the water’s edge. This summer, you’ll be able to walk to the tip of the Island and see for yourself – what exists there now and contemplate what could be there in the future

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