New York, New York, USA
CLIENT Brookfield Properties / STATUS Completed 2015 / SIZE 2 acres / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates
Located in the heart of Lower Manhattan, the Brookfield Place Plaza is centered on a critical east-west pedestrian link connecting the World Trade Center memorial site to Battery City Park and the Hudson River. The plaza acts as an arrival for the southern part of the Brookfield Place complex as well as an urban terminus to the northern point of South End Avenue. The plaza is bound on the western edge by Pumphouse Park, colloquially known as the Oval, a popular green enclave surrounded by cherry trees that creates a spectacle of blooms in the spring. Despite its strategic location, the plaza suffered from a lack of continuity and identity rendering the space little more than a cul-de-sac. Several problems plagued the space: a lack of ground plane continuity that was dominated by the vehicular traffic pattern, an abrupt transition between the park and the plaza, and obscured site lines across the plaza.
The intent for the design of the plaza was to create a new unified plan by extending a consistent paving through the entire space while eliminating the curbs that fracture the space and inscribe the vehicular traffic patterns. As part of the work, the traffic pattern was altered for better vehicular efficiency causing the previously symmetrical relationship with the front entry and center line of the road to be shifted, creating two conflicting geometries. Balmori proposed three rotating vegetative planes emerging from the ground all centered on a different axis to reconcile the old and new geometries. Balmori also proposed moveable furniture to provide maximum flexibility for tenants of the ground floor space in the future.
Although many design proposals were not realized due to budgetary constraint developments some simple changes on site have made the plaza feel distinctly open, creating a fluidity between the plaza and adjacent greenspaces. Both the widening of pedestrian space and the removal of the tall fence which once divided the space have created a much more open plaza with clear views to the Hudson River.