Take a seat

Rethinking the function of public green space overlooking the World Trade Center campus

Liberty Park is an elevated, 1.5-acre green space that offers unparalleled views of the entire World Trade Center campus. The thoughtful design of this urban oasis provides an elevated connection to surrounding buildings and allows for moments of tranquility while taking in the views of One World Trade Center, Memorial Plaza and the Oculus, the exterior form of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub.

A collaborative effort

Rebuilding in the World Trade Center’s Financial District involves working with a complex and sometimes conflicting set of demands — on the one hand, creating a world-class civic space that is beautiful, fully accessible and integrates the new iconic buildings and 9/11 Memorial and Museum, while on the other incorporating high levels of security and subsurface infrastructure, including utilities and public transit.

A new perspective

From the start of the project, the sense of openness and accessibility in this high-profile civic space was a key priority. Delivering a new kind of security aesthetic, designs are unobtrusive and create a calming and ordered public space. To visually unify the entire 16-acre site, the public realm has been designed as an elegant skin with a streetscape in a simple and complementary palette of dark gray, midtone and white granite — forming the base from which the new buildings rise.

Liberty Park’s design is conceived to provide critical pedestrian walkway connections between the Financial District streetscape and the pedestrian bridge that spans the adjacent West Side Highway, while also providing an essential link from the District to Battery Park City. The pedestrian circulation was carefully orchestrated to allow visitors to transition nearly 32 feet in vertical elevation while still meeting ADA accessibility requirements.

The park program includes multiple seating areas, viewing decks and public garden spaces, along with a large, open space plaza that accommodates the ceremonial entrance to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, which, like the Oculus, is based upon the design of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. These elements of the park create a one-of-a-kind “garden balcony” — an ideal place to sit back and take in the iconic views.

A place for reflection

One of the park’s most striking features is the use of dynamic, raised planters that guide pedestrian circulation and incorporate seating throughout the park. The pre-cast concrete planters passively separate main pedestrian through-circulation from peaceful seating nooks and balconies overlooking the 9/11 Memorial. Artwork salvaged from the original World Trade Center site is located within these planters, prompting visitors to consider the history and future of this restored and ever-evolving area of Lower Manhattan.