Monsignor John J. Kowsky Plaza, Battery Park City

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New York

Located over the original World Trade Center pumphouse, this newly reclaimed public space includes a new overlook and public amenities: a shaded plaza, a play area for younger children, and a dog run. The project was challenging technically as we needed to maintain access to the pumps. Overlooking the Hudson River, the space is redesigned to allow public access directly from the axis of Liberty Street to the lower esplanade on the river. WXY invented a large scale cantilevered shade structure to provide an armature for spontaneous activity. Its balancing and articulation reflect the lack of solid ground in this area. Over 100m long, the shade structure holds concrete planters carrying flame vine and wisteria, which will create a deeply planted arbor over the next decade, evolving into a new green space. The structure is unique in that there is no redundancy between the stainless steel and the Ipe wood frame: all parts are playing structural roles. With this efficiency, the structure offers true shade throughout the day. In the evening special lighting projects leaf like images into the pathway. This new public space was opened to the public in the Spring of 2005. WXY was awarded a 2008 AIA New York State Award of Merit for Kowsky Plaza. Buro Happold was the collaborating engineers on this project.

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