New York’s Little Island wins Dezeen Landscape Project of the Year

1 December 2022
Credit: Timothy Schenck
  • Timothy Schenck
  • Timothy Schenck
  • Timothy Schenck
  • Timothy Schenck
  • Timothy Schenck
  • Timothy Schenck

Heatherwick Studio/MNLA/Arup


New York, NY

United States

Heatherwick Studio, MNLA & Arup celebrate award for unique floating oasis

Dezeen has named the iconic Little Island park in New York City as Landscape Project of the Year 2022. Heatherwick Studio, MNLA, and Tenderstream member Arup joined forces to deliver the unique ‘floating’ urban oasis, using advanced 3D design and prefabrication techniques to create a park that includes a 687-seat amphitheatre and features nearly 400 different species of trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials.

The original concept pictured a park “floating” above the Hudson River, propped up by a complex array of piles of differing heights, all of which fused together at the top to create the park’s undulating topography. When it came time to translate this vision into a constructible design, Arup’s engineers, working alongside Heatherwick Studio, determined that precast concrete was the best choice for the pots that form the park’s base, due to the challenges of constructing cast-in-place concrete over a river and the expense entailed in steel construction. Embracing advanced modelling, Arup’s structural team, together with Heatherwick Studio, were able to devise a pentagon pattern that rationalises the structure’s geometry and allows for invisible repetitions in form. 

Arup partnered with the Client’s artistic advisor team to help define their artistic goals park-wide and for each of the three performance venues, which included using the Arup SoundLab to simulate and optimize the predicted soundscape experience. Arup worked with the landscape architects MNLA to integrate the needs for audience sightlines into the landscaped contours, and embedded into the park surface a hidden and flexible infrastructure to support a wide range of events. Arup’s civil engineers also worked closely with MNLA and Arup’s structural team to develop an integrated stormwater management scheme that transforms Little Island into what lead civil engineer Vincent Lee describes as “one giant green roof.” 

The Dezeen jury stated: "Little Island is a striking and imaginative addition to New York, which adds to the social value of the city by creating a new gathering space for families to enjoy. There were some concerns about the sustainability of the project, considering the amount of concrete used, but the judges felt the innovation of creating a completely new landscape that hitherto did not exist should be commended."

Lucy Nordberg
Tenderstream Head of Research

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