The Green Apple

New York is as concrete a jungle as they come.  It is never still, it moves and breaths more than any metropolitan city in the world; everyone loves New York!  But it doesn’t have its faults so when Mayor Michael Bloomberg set out a $2.3 billion plan to cut the city’s greenhouse emissions by 30% by 2030 back in 2007 New York’s residents took up the challenge.  Unlike the more complex global emission cutting issues New York could readily be ‘cleaned up’ by refitting old public buildings with new heating and cooling systems.  The city is not lacking in buildings so the effect has radically improved building efficiency over the last 4 years. What of the outside of these buildings?  Can they be turned into trees?  Perhaps not, but at least the tops can be green! 

Independent groups of people as well as government bodies are taking a second look at the space they occupy, at the actual footprint they are responsible for and seeing green opportunities.  PlaNYC, the organisation created to monitor Bloomberg’s plan, has identified 29 Sustainability Indicators which they use to track long-term goals.  They apply to each of the section of which one of them is Parks and Public Spaces, undoubtedly the most visibly changed aspect of the city.  People’s neighbourhoods are being improved with parks and communal spaces being developed such the soon to be completed High Line, other’s property values have been increased by creating rooftop gardens, while public spaces are coming to life in between bridges and highways.  Here is a sample gallery of what we spotted!

The High Line

The High Line starts in the Meatpacking district, around west 14th Street and ends on West 34th Street.  Originally constructed in 1930’s to elevate freight trains, which delivered meat amongst other goods to the area, off the streets it was re-purposed  in early 2000’s.  After 25 years of closure a natural landscape of vegetation grew through the disused train tracks and inspired the city to develop the historical structure as a park.  Designed by landscape architects James Corner Fields Operations and Architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro the space opened in part in June 2009 and the rest is expected to be completed later this year.  The High Line website is full of information, specially enjoyable are the historical images and the array of plants, inspired by the natural growth that happened over time and later chosen for the project.


Brooklyn Bridge Park

The disused waterfront space under the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge, aka DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) are undergoing major works.  The stretch under the Manhattan Bridge is finished and already attracts tourists and residents alike to rest and play aside one of the most famous skylines in the world!  The park includes children’s playgrounds, floating pathways, fishing piers, canals, and wetlands for wildlife.

Green Rooftops

The latest rage in New York is green rooftops.  Not only do they aesthetically enhance and uplift the overwhelming grey and brown tones of the buildings in the city they also are increasing property value.  The two largest rooftops, USPS in Midtown at 109,000 square feet and Zeckendorf Towers in Union Square at 14,000 square feet, have proven to reduce energy costs and lengthen the life of the rooftop.  USPS allegedly reduced its annual energy expensse by $1 million while Zeckendorf Towers’s rooftop has stopped flooding that regularly occurred by absorbing the rainstorm water.

New York city continues to entice people to use and admire outside and public spaces with sculptures such as Jaume Plensa’s Echo in Madison Square Park, Will Ryman’s installation The Roses on Park Avenue, and Kim Beck’s Space Available along the High Line.

Jaume Plensa’s Echo

Will Ryman’s The Roses

Kim Beck’s Space Available