Rising Currents
April 28, 2010  |  Rising Currents
Rising Currents: Promise of a Park

West 8/Rogers Marvel Architects/Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Mathews Nielsen/Urban Design +

The Universal Magic of New York Harbor

The chosen place, Governors Island, as a granite island in the middle of New York Harbor, has an amazing context. This natural bay where the Hudson and East rivers meet and the moon drives the waters of the Atlantic through the Verrazano Narrows, causing the tides to swirl around the navel of the world, Manhattan, is without compare. Here is where generations came ashore to build America, fusing their collective cultures together to form a peerless metropolis. The water was the center. New York was built on the shores, so that its magnificent silhouette would be reflected by the waves. Tunnels and athletic bridges labor to connect all its boroughs. Like the Bosporus and the Bay at Rio de Janeiro, New York Harbor has a seemingly universal magic. God created a place, which every civilization would choose for its own. Every morning, Manhattan is born again out of briny fogs. With Ellis Island and Liberty Island, Governors Island has been elected to share this bay. Together they have witnessed an intense history, or have themselves become the symbols of it.

No park would ever choose such a place. But imagine Governors Island in a new form as a park. The transformation of an abandoned military base into a public space with seasons, for contemplation and leisure, seems a dream: to change a bleak, windblown island into an idyllic destination, a green broccoli in the water. Imagine New Yorkers leaving their city for a short boat trip to the island, a boat trip which makes everyone equal. Families, lovers, and lonely hearts will meet each other in the middle of New York Harbor. People will experience the sky and the air, will see the sun sink. They will enjoy nature unfamiliar to them. Where else in Manhattan can you see the sun set? The rhythm of the waves and the slow-moving ships that never tire of sailing will lift the visitors out of their everyday worries. Where else can you come into direct contact with the Manhattan skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty? They will rediscover their city and themselves.

Transformation through Topography

The old island, the rock with Fort Jay, is already a park. It is a romantic campus area with historic buildings and monumental trees that have love letters carved into their bark. The southern part of Governors Island lacks all imagination. Here the island was designed as a landfill area, flat as a pancake, flatter than Holland.

What would be the new allure of Governors Island as a destination? The answer is the place, the cloud-filled skies, the horizon, the views of the city and surroundings. That is why the flat part of the island, ruined by brackish water, should be transformed into an exciting, undulating topography that draws people in—an undulating park where the wide edges of the paths will paint a three-dimensional order that was not there before, which will make people long to walk and to wander.

This topography offers shelter and security and will explore all the views and panoramas of the harbor. New images will be added, the gaze will be manipulated and curved, and a 360-degree panorama will be created from some hilltops. Promenades across and around the island allow the visitors to walk and cycle. The slopes where people picnic or recline in the shade have the park as foreground and the framed image of New York Harbor as decor. From the belly of the park the topography and the play of lines will form a magnetic field that will ultimately bring people together on a narrow plaza space at the western edge of the island, in a sensational confrontation with the Statue of Liberty. That is the place to drink a cup of coffee, where tourists take photos and where boy meets girl.

The topography is the basis for the new park and public space. Lawns, flower beds, wetland gardens, and botanic groves will cover the park. A free wooden bicycle program available to all visitors makes a visit to Governors Island euphoric. Like historic parks, Governors Island’s identity will also be defined through its ornamental qualities. Furniture, balustrades, playgrounds, mosaic paving, the finish and texture of concrete edges, kiosks, etc. will delight the eye and strengthen the imagination and park illusion.

People will return again and again.

Adriaan is giving a talk titled “The Promise of an Island: the Plan for Governors Island’s Park and Public Space” at the Museum on Thursday, April 29. The event is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront.


It is something that should have been done long ago. Wonderful idea! As long as it does not become too expensive to visit.

nice idea but i don’t think it’s possible because it would be very expensive.

take a look to mexico city and make a good projection of this issue please.
better city and better life is the only solution that we all have.

Dear Sirs, I loved the exhibit and wish I could have fund any printed materials on the subject. I am an Italian-American architect living in Brazil and working for one of the largest architectural and interior design offices of the Country. I really appreciate If you could kindly let me know if or when anything on this matter will be available.
Kind Regards,
Anna Martino

hello moma
gr thom

very nice idea
Moma is very exciting
very interesting exhibitd

That is a great plan too save this city! I think that the more you take this plan into action the better. I loved the exhibit aswell
Moma rocks!

What’s the point? Cloverfield monster is gonna destroy New York before that!

plesae,how many ears old have island?


very good idea. I agree with this project.
sao paulo – brazil

This exhibit should be shared with architecture museums around the country and world. Cities all over the world would benefit from exploring many of the ideas presented here.

Has any study been done on the adverse impact of rising damp on the foundations and walls of the old historic masonry buildings? would like to know the findings and the proposed solutions. This would also apply to other parts of NYC
saving the waterfront with the in -out drainage below roads is a fantastic idea. I am a consulting civil engineer from Mumbai, India,with some experience of development and preservation of the same

Wonderful idea!!

Rather than showcasing wind or solar power, the energy emphasis should have been on green building techniques that would reduce energy consumption dramatically.

This is a very nice idea! More close parks would be good near such an urban area.

i think this project could be amazing, but also i suppose that is to much expensive!

Hola, me esta gustando mucho mucho, es todo muy original y extraordinario, este museo se lo recomiendo a todo el mundo porque es espectacular. Todo lo que hay esta muy bien trabajado y si hubiera que poner nota me pasaria de nota.Solo tengo 12 aNos.

Great Idea!

YES! Let’s do it! I can’t wait to visit.

Impressive and cannot wait to see the future. Admire all of brilliant ideas and its power to implementation. Great. Let me know the updates and will also come often to check the status.

me gusta mucho . besos tengo 12 anos

Excellent idea for urban design; the emphasis on the ergonomic-ecological boundaries of city life will definitely provide a greater foundation for urban beautification and renewal. However, cost always remains an issue. Also, is the park as functional as it should be? While the permeable street system seems viable and effective (if expensive) the park may serve as a disruption to current water flows, rather than channeling existing currents.

Wonderful IDEA!

great idea! if this plan goes through i will certainly want to heard about it asap. good work you guys!

I think its a very beautiful museum, wonderful exhibitions and interesting presentations. Congrats


wonderful! chicca, porci, riky, albi, leo, posti. <3

nice museum

beware of too extreme changes in environment, it can have un anticipated effects – you can take as an example the 3 gorges in China.

But still, having more Nature in NYC is a good idea actually.

hermoso presioso me enamore

I have been enjoying my vacation. It’s an interesting and wonderful museum …

Gostei muito do museu, a minha stora de artes vai ficar orgulhosa de mim!

I really enjoyed the museum, my Arts teacher is going to be proud of me!

bellissimo museo…e bellissima NY!

very, very nice

muy lindo

this place rock (:

bello il plastico!!!!!


nice museum

i like it here. you guys made it perfect. this is a nice museum.-ryan

Rising currents is a collection of very inspiring visions – great work!

i heard there was a few boat tours of the sites – are these still going if so i would love to attend. I am an Australian engineer working in the climate and energy space i would love to tap into this project more deeply and gaina greater understanding of the process and some of the concepts.

s p

What an absolutely great idea!
Well done!

Thank you Target for free entrance. Moma is not worth 20$

great museum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

is beatif

is big idea

It’s always good to show the public what is possible, visualization has great power. Already the New York Harbor is cleaner than when I grew up here. As an ex-New Yorker I’m always amazed at the way this city has evolved since my departure in 1991. As a person who fled the New York area when hyper-dermics were washing up on shore, for the wilds of Oregon. Upon my return I’m always impressed at how this City has now emerged as a center for sustainable conservatism. I applaud the organizers of the “Rising Currents” Exhibition, its forward thinking and it’s perception of historic uses of the Hudson. I think the power of the show speaks for itself. SSS

well done!

Are any of the buildings now under construction in New York taking the projected water rise into consideration?

I absolutely loved this exhibit! Very nice job!

I thought that this exhibit was very nice! Well done!

i think you should get in touch with channel 13 PBS, and have them do a segment on this exhibit.

Wow, this was a very exciting exhibit! My boyfriend and I are studying landscape engineering and we were amazed by the quality and content of the exhibit!
If you can, please send me more prospects on the subject…

Good luck !

is very beautifoul ma I am a plus beautefoul
e’ molto bello ma sono piu bello io

I liked the buildings. Needs more fruits.

Il secondo piano decisamente interessante!! molto ben fatto!!

why don’t you tell the people that 4th floor is closed before buying the tickets?

It’s quite amusing to see that nature arounds us all time and we distroy it to construct such things like buildings and we now try to find solution to put nature inside buildings as we understand now how important nature is. Such non senses Human beings.

Great stuff here!Modular / pearfb homes will offer solutions to the world?s housing shortage for the deprived, under-privileged and low income populations in society by providing a total system for basic, low-cost, quality built housing. The modular housing constructed with sandwich panels is the lowest in cost, most rapidly erected, simplest in design, and most structurally sound basic housing in existence today. Plus, you can ship 21 houses in a 40 foot container.

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