Morton Street Park

New York, NY

This small waterfront project is the first in a series of parks, gardens, and public spaces to be linked by the future extension of the Hudson River esplanade in Manhattan. The project defies the standard engineering approach for the building type, as evidenced up and down the waterfront, by concealing the complex workings of train tunnel ventilation in a park setting. The strength of the design focuses on making a new public space rather than decorated objects on the esplanade. The result is a small gesture that benefits the nearby neighborhood, but at the same time begins to help shape the future growth of the west side waterfront.

The intent was to design a park based on classical garden precedents treating the towers as garden follies. This conscious design decision intended to counter the functional role of thisventilation infrastructure in a large transportation system with the desire to make this a pedestrian-friendly place. Although based on classical precedents, the design is clearly modern. The bases of both towers are less public as one moves from north to south. The tops of the towers are reminiscent of great greenhouse structures found in urban parks throughout the world.

The goal of the design is not to deny tradition, but to recall New York’s great heritage of public works. It aims to bring together two factions of the city that normally stand at odds, residential neighborhoods and city infrastructure. The real measure of success of this project is in how it has been embraced and used by the residents of the nearby community.