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ASLA 2003 The Landmark Award

Battery Park City: Master Plan and Esplanade
Original Landscape Architect:
Olin Partnership, Ltd., Philadelphia, PA, and R.M. Hanna Landscape Architects, Philadelphia, PA (formerly Hanna/Olin)
Owner/Client: Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority

From its inception, the defining vision for Battery Park City was to create a physical space welcoming the diverse people of New York City to work, shop, eat, play, relax, and, most important, live. This desire to build a livable space has manifested itself in a world where towers live alongside low-rise buildings set in a landscape of rolling lawns, stretches of waterfront, and patches of sky. Battery Park City is built on what was once 92 acres of landfill and is now some of the most scenic and engaging open space in New York City, establishing an urban fabric of mixed uses that brought new life to lower Manhattan, sustaining it through difficult and turbulent times. At the heart of its success is the significant open space component that has resulted in a 1.2 mile esplanade, over 30 acres of parks, and streets that support active public participation in the life of the city.

In the 1960’s Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller believed that government could revitalize New York City’s downtown economy through an innovative urban plan, and he advocated the building of Battery Park City. During New York’s fiscal crisis in the 1970’s, plans were put on hold. In 1979, Hanna/Olin, in collaboration with two prominent New York architects, created a master plan that has guided the long-term development of Battery Park City with considerable success. The master plan allocated a mix of uses that included 42 percent residential, 9 percent commercial, 30 percent public open space, and 19 percent streets and avenues. Battery Park City is proof that great civic space plays a vital role in regenerating hope and optimism. The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, a non-profit organization that maintains the green spaces, demonstrated its commitment following the events of September 11, 2001, when its 70-member staff and workforce arrived in force to begin the restoration of the gardens, most of which were covered with up to a foot of dust and ash. Battery Park City is a success because the Battery Park City Authority is a visionary owner dedicated to sustaining the energy of the master plan and being a patron of a well-designed public space.

Click photo for larger image.
Right click to download full size image Esplanade at Rector Place. (Photo by: Olin Partnership, Ltd.)
Right click to download full size image The esplanade in 2001 with mature trees and plantings. (Photo by:
Right click to download full size image Winter on the esplanade. (Photo by:
Copyright  1995-2000 by The American Society of Landscape Architects