Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park
Architect: swa/Balsley and WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
Owner: New York City Economic Development Corporation
Location: New York, NY
Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park in Queens, New York, is an 11-acre model of urban ecology and sustainable thinking. As one of the city’s most ambitious developments in years, the area includes 5,000 affordable housing units, two schools, and an expanded ferry stop. With water surrounding it on three sides, the park relies on a number of green initiatives to combat long-term disinvestment and create a new urban ecological paradigm.
Two centuries ago, the site was a series of wetlands, but its more recent industrial identity reflects its proximity to the waterfront and rail access. Nearly all signs of the site’s ecologically rich history were erased over decades of industrialization and abandonment. The new park takes advantage of the site’s multiple histories and sweeping views to create a resilient destination for recreation and culture. In addition, it provides protection to the rapidly expanding community surrounding it in times of flooding and extreme weather.
The park’s design incorporates a series of perimeter ecologies that link the northern and southern ends of the site as well as the park’s precincts and programs. Existing concrete bulkheads along the water’s edge were removed to make way for new wetlands and pathways to create a softer edge, and the intersection of the city and the park is marked by a richly planted bioswale. The site’s irregular shape, which shifts from narrow to broad between the city and water, helps calibrate the scale of the park’s programmatic elements.
The most open area of the site is defined by a new multi-use green oval, ringed by a continuous path that offers dramatic views of the Manhattan skyline across the river and includes spaces for informal performances. A pleated steel shade on the oval’s southern edge follows its curve and serves as shelter for a water ferry stop and houses concessions.
Through its soft approach to floodwaters, the park is a new model for waterfront resilience. A slightly elevated causeway that meanders along the river’s edge offers exciting recreation opportunities while protecting nearly 1.5 acres of newly established wetlands. In addition, the team leveraged the site’s dramatic topography through a new island accessible by pedestrian bridge, a shaded promontory, and a collection of “break out” spaces located just steps from pathways.
"Amazing evolution of the site. Smart landscape design to address sea level rise and storm surge. Elegant softening of the rivers edge. This project raises the bar for the future adjacent housing development." - Jury comment