New York’s Governor’s Island is set to receive an incredible set of renovations that will transform the 172-acre plot of decaying Coast Guard structures into a stunning eco-park. Designed by West 8, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Rogers Marvel Architects, the project is a hybrid of landscape and architecture based around a sinuous set of new paths, watercourses, restaurants, aquaria and even complimentary wooden bicycles. Slated for completion in 2012, the ambitious, new and improved Governors Island will incorporate a host of environmentally friendly features.
Sold to the city and state for $1 in 2003, Governor’s Island is set become the site of one of New York City’s greenest destinations. Diller Scofidio + Renfro say the plan “uses the man made topography of lower Manhattan as a starting point; the southern tip of the island is transformed into an artificial landscape with hills constructed of reclaimed materials from existing Governors Island buildings. As the new topography approaches the Western edge of the island, it transforms into EPDM-covered greenhouse structures, programmed as botanical and aquatic research centers.”
The proposal also features a Marine Exploration Center that consists of a set of off-shore “programmed structures” including a coastal plant greenhouse, marine life tank, vertical reef, and two restaurants. “Off-shore programmed structures emerge like bubbles from the water, moving with the tides…” say Diller Scofidio + Renfro, “The Oyster Restaurant floating directly across the harbor from the Statue of Liberty is an inflated sphere, 150′ in diameter, anchored by a man-made oyster reef. Rather than focusing its gaze on the world, it turns to the ecology of the local, allowing guests to eat the site by serving foods from the Hudson and the harbor.”
As visitors head to the southern tip of the island, they will encounter a “Vertical Landscape” of man-made mountains that will incorporate recreational, cultural, and educational functions. Though still in the development stage, features may include snack bars, exhibits, a funicular, and caves for spelunking. West 8 partner Jerry van Eyck says: “We wanted to give it the attitude of a national park, one with primal nature, robustness, where you don’t feel the hand of man.”
Last but certainly not least, complimentary wood bicycles—designed by the architects themselves—will be provided for visitors to cruise the winding paths of the park. Attractions accessible by bike will include the tidal basin, the planned 10,000 seat amphitheater, and a perimeter promenade with killer views of the city and its legendary landmarks. Given the stunning design, recreational and educational opportunities the park will provide, not to mention the tourist dollars it will generate, Governors Island may prove to be the best $1 investment the city has ever made.