Governors Island Park and Public Space

Governors Island Hills


The Governors Island Park and Public Space Master Plan transforms 87 acres of open green space on the island into a regional destination by taking advantage of its unparalleled setting in New York Harbor. MNLA was the Associate Landscape Architect on the team that completed the master plan and the two-phased park design for the open space. The master plan rejuvenates existing landscapes in the National Historic District, transforms the southern half of the island into a twenty-first century park, and creates a 2.2-mile Great Promenade along the waterfront where strollers and bicyclists can experience 360-degree views of the harbor. Phase I includes the gardens of Liggett Terrace and Hammock Grove, a 10-acre afforestation project with more than 1,900 trees representing 50 species. The result is a design that engages people in unexpected ways and complements the unique character of Governors Island`s location. Phase II, also known as "The Hills," opened to the public in July 2016. The Hills were built from a combination of salvaged fill, clean fill, designed soils, and structural support. Their height and slope create complex gradations of planting conditions due to aspect and grade. As a result, MNLA`s planting strategy for them addresses the aesthetic, experiential, and technical aspects of design. Over 40,000 shrubs, comprising 19 species of plants, cover nearly five acres of the Hills, and, as visitors climb the paths, the viewsheds are controlled through the massing of both trees and shrubs.The design of New York`s Governors Island dramatically transformed this once-abandoned island from a utilitarian windswept military base into a vibrant, resilient and thriving mixed-use destination. The recently opened Hills represent the culmination of the Park and Public Space Master Plan, a 10-year planning process for the 172-acre island. Today, Governors Island is a major festival and events destination, a tourist draw within the region, and a public park for all New Yorkers.

Designed, 2009
Constructed, 2016