Jagged Chunks of Sidewalk Reused to Create Unique Median for Queens Plaza

by , 03/09/11
filed under: Architecture,Art NYC,Queens

Queens Plaza Reused Sidewalk Landscape Construction, Queens Plaza, queensboro plaza, recycled sidewalk,  Reused Sidewalk Landscape Construction, green design, eco design, sustainable design, green art, eco art, green nyc, new york city, nyc art, tobiah horton

Rather than scrap all of the sidewalks demolished during the clearing of the area for a new streetscape and park, WRT opted to reuse it to create a functional form that doubles as an art installation. According to Horton, “the design application conserves roughly 1,700,000,000 BTUs of embodied energy in 1,000 CY of reused concrete and avoids approximately 60 tons of CO2 if a standard DOT design alternative of 200 CY of new concrete median were to be used.” Plus, it just looks really cool (our words, not his).

“As a part of the Queens Plaza Project’s efforts to encourage new functions and perceptions of the infrastructural landscape, the reused concrete medians redefine the functional, material and aesthetic performances of a typical roadway feature,” writes WRT of their design. “Functionally, the medians serve to discourage uncontrolled pedestrian movements across roadways by presenting a clear visual indication of impassability. With the reuse of material the installation treats the urban fabric like an existing geology that can be mined for reconstruction. The reuse demonstrates that demolition, salvage and reconstruction can be an on-site closed loop that conserves embodied energy in reuse; reduces environmental impacts from harvest, manufacture and transport; and avoids impacts from disposal.”

The project is part of the Queens Plaza Bicycle and Pedestrian Landscape Improvement initiative to transform the tangle of urbanity cutting through Long Island City from a disorienting industrial maze into a greenery-filled navigable landscape. People like my mom, whose first impression of the borough was a harsh, jumbled snapshot of the Plaza as she crossed the 59th St. Bridge decades ago will no doubt be elated to see the changes come to fruition.


Images courtesy of Tobiah Horton



  1. Corinne May 7, 2014 at 12:46 pm
    Great idea for recycle, and reuse, and very important for our environment. It is attractive with the greenery interspersed (if people would see that picture). As for slobs that trash our environment fine them heavily - they will stop it.
  2. ottawan December 4, 2013 at 12:05 am
    What the...? I was positive those were old tombstones! NOT attractive!
  3. debby12 December 3, 2013 at 8:03 pm
    Wow. Ugly AND dangerous (to cars and pedestrians). What an unappealing combination.
  4. bbeecc March 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm
    I agree with RickiGirl. This looks absolutely hideous. Looks like a war zone. It is amazing that not only did some one come up with this idea, the powers that be had to approve it and sign off on it! This is their idea of a "vibrant green oasis"?
  5. lrolston May 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm
    The design is getting mixed reviews, now that it has been in place for awhile. It seems no one considered the ramifications regarding weather (continuous drenching rain that has waterlogged the deciduous plants)and the ability of the concrete shards to catch and hold garbage deep within its cravasses, much of which is hard to remove manually without injury.
  6. RickiGirl May 17, 2011 at 6:38 pm
    How right you are Neffgirl. I travel the route almost daily...and there is garbage etc... all over the place. In addtion...the area now looks like a large cemetery with horrific headstones. In other words...it looks like hell.
  7. wleatherbee March 9, 2011 at 1:35 pm
    If the design and execution are creative, energy saving and sustainable, surely the project is worthy of maintenance. Design a graphics program of signs and trash containers urging users to keep their beautiful new streetscape clean by properly disposing of trash, picking up stray trash, and otherwise taking ownership of these improvements. William Leatherbee AIA
  8. Neffgirl March 9, 2011 at 9:26 am
    Very nice! (when it's new); but won't they trap all kinds of litter and street detritus? Once all that "junk" gets caught between the stones, I think it may look pretty bad.