This studio addressed one of the world’s most dramatic urban sites, Governors Island, located in New York Bay and facing the lower Manhattan skyline. Currently, New York City is exploring opportunities for developing 30 acres of the 172-acre island with up to three-million square feet of residential, academic, commercial and recreational uses. Given the island’s size and its potential program’s complexity, the studio focused not on architecture but on urban design – the building and spatial forms, programs and circulation networks that will make Governors Island a destination for New Yorkers and visitors from around the world. Following site analysis and precedent research by the Studio group, participants developed individual urban-design concepts encompassing housing, parks, institutions, schools, sports facilities and/or other features of their choosing to give vision to the island’s potential.

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Student Work

Ruokun Zhang – Sea wall on Governor Island

This is an academic project to explore the multi-functional sea wall on Governor Island, New York City. The island is 172 acres, with green space more than 70% of the site.

The project aims to build a sustainable and mix-used urban space on the sea wall facing the challenge of flooding. It will become a suitable place for people to live, to work, to study and to enjoy. This project will not only explore the potential development of the Governors island, but also effectively guarantee the development on the limited land without flooding problems. The sea wall complex, underground construction, green system, and waterfront make up this project. In addition, with multiple transportation systems, this island will no longer be isolated from New York City.

Sang Wang – Green Hills

Governors Island is an isolated island in New York Bay accessible only by ferry. Seeing the opportunity of Governors Island as a green infrastructure of NYC waterfront development, this design provides a resilient year-round destination to live, work, study and play. Facing the global climate change and potential flood threats, this design improves the environmental resilience from flood and climate change with lifted hills, permeable botanic forest and buffer islands, which can also contribute to the bio-system. Besides, making use of the trash produced by NYC, an expanded necklace of islands made with composting of NYC buffer the main island from wave damage.

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