the hills by west 8 open to the public on new york's governors island
 

the hills by west 8 open to the public on new york's governors island

ten acres of new public space has opened on new york’s governors island. ‘the hills’, a park designed by urban design and landscape architecture firm west 8, includes a variety of landscapes, public art, play areas, and 360 degree views of the new york harbor — including the statue of liberty. the scheme is the culmination of the governors island park and public space masterplan, and phase 1 of the park and public space project. the opening marks a major milestone in the transformation of the island from an abandoned military base into a vibrant public destination.

 

the hills on governors island open summer 2016
video by cobalt productions / courtesy of the trust for governors island

 

 

 

rising 25 to 70 feet (8-21 meters) above the island, west 8 has constructed the hills using recycled demolition debris, general fill, and lightweight pumice, stabilized with geotechnical reinforcement and covered with shrubs, trees and grassy lawns. while the project provides important areas of recreation, is also helps protect the island against increasingly dramatic weather patterns and rising sea levels.

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view of outlook hill, which rises 70 feet above the island
all images by timothy schenck

 

 

 

opening nearly a year ahead of schedule, the four mounds include: ‘grassy hill’, a 26-foot high gentle slope overlooking the island’s new and historic landscapes as well as the manhattan skyline; ‘slide hill’, which, at a height of 36 feet, is the home of four slides, including the longest in new york city; ‘discovery hill’, which features a site-specific sculpture by british artist rachel whiteread; and ‘outlook hill’, which provides accessible paths and ‘the scramble’, constructed out of reclaimed granite seawall blocks. here, 70 feet above the island, visitors are afforded views of the new york harbor, the statue of liberty, and the skylines of manhattan, brooklyn and jersey city.

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looking towards the freedom tower and downtown manhattan

 

 

 

‘the hills’ are home to more than 860 new trees and 41,000 new shrubs planted in high-quality topsoil and protected from brackish groundwater by the new topography. the planting of each of the four hills has been designed according to individual micro-climates with varying degrees of slopes, exposure to sun, salty-spray, and prevailing winds. the lawns, plantings and permeable paving also reduce erosion and storm run-off, while allowing for water collection and irrigation.

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visitors attend the opening of the public park

 

 

 

sculpted topography works in concert with winding pathways and trees to create ‘conceal and reveal’ vistas, choreographing the park experience,’ explains west 8‘s design director adriaan geuze. ‘it maximizes the sense of anticipation, pulling a visitor through the park or signaling a place to sit and stay just a bit longer. the topography defines the very character of the area.’

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the scheme is home to more than 860 new trees and 41,000 new shrubs

 

 

 

over the past 13 years, governors island has been transformed from a relic few new yorkers knew about and even fewer visited into one of the most popular parks in our city – or any city,’ added former new york mayor michael bloomberg. ‘the hills are an extraordinary addition to the island that will inspire new yorkers and visitors for many generations to come – and they are a powerful testament to what can happen when public servants, architects and artists, and generous supporters all work together to bring a common vision to life.’ see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

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the hills have been built using recycled demolition debris

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view of the scramble on outlook hill from the play lawn

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at 57 feet long, slide hill includes the longest slide in new york city

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liberty moment, viewed from the top of slide hill

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view of the statue of liberty between grassy and outlook hills

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rachel whiteread’s ‘cabin’ on discovery hill

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‘cabin’ continues the artist’s work in producing sculptures of negative spaces

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looking towards the statue of liberty at sunset

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the project is the culmination of the governors island park and public space masterplan

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phase one of the development

 

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