American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2005 Professional Awards
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Cover: Sketch of Axes

Existing Conditions at Battery Park City
Threat Vector Assessment
Neighborhood Assessment Observations and Concerns
Site Re-Assessment Pedestrian Safety and Public Amenity, Traffic, and Perimeter Security
Streetscape and Security Programming Security as a Public Amenity

Battery Park City Streetscapes, New York, NY
Rogers Marvel Architects, New York, NY

"Excellent vocabulary for one of the most difficult issues facing cities today. . . demonstrates how to balance security with livability and access."

— 2005 Professional Awards Jury Comments

Begun in 2002, the Battery Park City Streetscape Project is an urban design project for the improvement of the streetscapes, parks amenities and connections, and perimeter security at the World Financial Center. The project includes a comprehensive study of innovative prototypes to provide a higher level of security at sensitive areas while maintaining both an appropriate pedestrian experience at the street and the recognized vocabulary of the neighborhood.

Battery Park City is a carefully crafted community that is a combination of commercial, residential, and recreational buildings and public spaces. The Authority overseeing development has attended to strict design guidelines that have defined the character of the neighborhood. There is a commitment to sustainable design, which is manifest in several “green” residential buildings. There is great concern for the public and pedestrian realm, and care has been taken to ensure and maintain a consistent vocabulary of materials and structure. The public realm, including the streetscapes and park spaces, iscarefully tended by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy. The Parks Conservancy insists upon environmentally friendly building materials, carefully constructed planting soils, and plant materials of the highest quality.

To understand and clarify the relationships on the site, the Project Team focused its Pre-Design Analysis upon six key elements for assessment and recommendations: Pedestrian Circulation, Public Amenities, Public Transportation, Private Vehicular Transportation, Commercial Vehicle Circulation, and Security. The Pre-design Analysis documented the existing conditions and context to clearly define elements of the project scope and to serve as a base for future work on the Streetscapes Project.

Assessment began with a review of previously completed studies and plans, observations of existing conditions, and an overview of future projects and activity. The World Financial Center Traffic Analysis and Recommendations, completed in 1999, served as an initial framework for understanding the existing conditions and an approach to subsequent pre-design recommendations. The 1999 report represented expected “normal” conditions for occupancy, traffic, and other programmed uses prior to 9/11.

Additional review was completed of available planning documents and information. Current data at the World Financial Center and throughout the neighborhood were gathered in July and August 2002. Independent security interviews were held with significant tenants and stakeholders of the World Financial Center area. Interviews were also conducted with BPC Parks Conservancy and other groups.

Security for the World Financial Center was of critical importance, and the Design Team studied threat vectors for high- and low-speed approaches to the buildings concerned to determine appropriate levels of protection. While vehicular threats are often studied using general assumptions and are resolved with commonly applied arrest techniques, the Design Team focused their response relative to this specific context. The design responds to the specific movements of which vehicles are capable in these specific circumstances, rather than relying on generalizations. The Design Team negotiated a Creative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the US Army Corps of Engineers to study and test immobilization techniques for a variety of vehicle arrest assemblies. Insights gleaned from tested military barriers and defensive techniques are re-scaled to the urban streetscape.

The Design Team also studied the neighborhood context, realizing that the installation of security measures would dramatically alter the nature of pedestrian and public space. The desire for security had to be balanced with a need to maintain a quality of life and public space for both the users and residents of Battery Park City. Numerous urban issues were reviewed in combination with security requirements in order to synthesize a common solution.

Environmentally, the site is fairly harsh, as it is on the waterfront and was built on sandy fill. Tall buildings and all the attendant urban stress, combined with stiff winds off the water, make for difficult growing conditions and pedestrian environment.

Establishing connections and providing for safety are the critical issues throughout all of the options explored and recommended. Axes of pedestrian circulation and visual connection are used to guide each of the suggested designs. Each axis acts to link the amenities of Battery Park City into a useful and accessible whole.

Recommendations for the Vesey Street region and the World Financial Center are guided by security needs, traffic control, and pedestrian access. Truck queuing is controlled and regulated. The configuration of curbside barriers and lay-by lanes can improve building stand-off and security while enhancing the streetscape and safety for pedestrian crossings. Closing selected streets enhances security stand-off at the New York Mercantile Exchange and provides additional park space and direct pedestrian access to the Irish Hunger Memorial.

Improvement for the North Neighborhood residential region focuses on safe pedestrian crossings and neighborhood amenities, including a new seating area, a dog run, and a plant nursery.

The quality of the public space was a driving force in the design of security measures that were to be implemented in subtle ways throughout the site. Traffic calming measures such as raised crosswalks and narrowed intersections allow for both safer pedestrian passage and forced vehicular slow-down. The materials used were those common to the established vocabulary of Battery Park City, with the infusion of sparkling new elements with dual purposes. Lit glass benches stretch the length of Vesey Street to provide wayfinding and rest for the pedestrian and a barrier, in combination with a “Tiger Trap”, to vehicles. This axis is crossed by the steel and specialty glass shade structures on North End Avenue, which provide shade in the daytime and reflected light at night.

The project combines diverse programmatic requirements into a synthesized urban design and management solution. This approach is in accord with the Battery Park City Authority’s mission to develop and maintain a world-class residential and commercial community in Lower Manhattan. Through design strategies and innovative security measures being explored with the US Army Corps of Engineers, these disparate elements are combined into a viable whole.

Design and Construction Documents are in progress or completed for various work areas. Construction began in the Fall of 2004 for the initial phases of work: Vesey Street Improvements and the North Neighborhood Islands.

The project is administered by the Battery Park City Authority and cared for by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy.


Vesey Street Security Improvements
Vesey Street Pit Trap Assembly
Vesey Street Glass Bench Assembly Models and Mock-ups
Vesey Street Tiger Trap Assembly
North Neighborhood Dog Run
Closing: Conceptual Light Diagram
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