New York, NY, USA
CLIENT Governors Island Preservation & Education Corporation / STATUS Competition 2006 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates
Governors Island is at the southern tip of Manhattan, an island is one hundred and thirty -two acres, half of it a historic park with old military barracks and handsome buildings, which are scheduled to remain, the other half open for proposals. The island ‘s separation from Manhattan required stepping up it’s open space attraction, so we designed three glass structures, or biomes. You can enter one of these in winter and experience the warmth-and - light-rich atmosphere of a desert in a glassed-over desert landscape. Imagine New York city in the middle of winter, when the cold winds bite, our fingertips freeze and snow quickly turns to brown slush. Who would not welcome the opportunity to shed their layers of clothes and bask in the dry desert sun just 5 minutes away from the city. Now imagine New York City in the middle of summer, when the humidity is restless and the air stagnates. Would you not enjoy retreating to a dry climate where a breath of fresh air is only a short ferry ride away.
Another biome consists of a tropical lagoon, also for winter enjoyment. Some people call New York a concrete jungle, where the diversity of people, the constant flow of energy, and the variety of places compose an intricate network of life. Here in the rainforests on Governors Island, people can experience another kind of jungle, one of tropical delight. Here visitors will be enclosed in a temple of forest trees, draped with vines and exploding with tropical flowers. As you move from the smell of fertile on the ground through the warmth of the moist air to the canopy walkways, the layers of the rainforest each respond to different light conditions , from darkness on the forest floor, to the draped sunlight through the middle section , up to the bright and airy tops of the forest.
The last is an Ice house with icebergs and tundra vegetation, where you can go in summer. The arctic climate of the tundra recreated in New York’s backyard, will be the grounds for both curious scientist and tourist to commingle. Here visitors will be invited to explore the delicate lichens and mosses that cover the rocky landscapes and peer into the various pitcher plants of cold waters. The sculptural foundations of snow and ice will provide a sanctuary of light. In colder months, while you must keep your jacket on, the Tundra will offer a different winter experience from one we are normally exposed to. Park, beach, boating, farm and garden would fulfill other open spaces desires. But the biomes would ply a role of connectors, providing experiences much different from those offered by most city parks.
The Habitat Project will also celebrate the native and cultivated vegetation of the Hudson River valley by providing a special area for research and education. From sustainable technologies to urban agriculture, they are in the center of the island will be designated for agricultural development. The public will be able to take courses in organic farming as well as purchase some of the produce grown on the island. This area could also provide the restaurateurs, in the historical district, with fresh produce and herbs.