Gantry Plaza State Park

queens, ny

client: queens west development corporatio

Once a working waterfront teeming with barges, tugboats, and rail cars, the Hunter’s Point shoreline of Queens slowly succumbed to the realities of the post-Industrial Age. As the last rail barge headed into the sunset, this spectacular site was left to deteriorate to a point of community shame. As part of the Queens West Parks Master Plan, Thomas Balsley Associates, together with Weintraub di Domenico, envisioned Gantry Plaza State Park as a place that celebrates its past, future, skyline views and the river.

The park is divided into three areas. The Promontory is a great lawn with a natural shoreline edge that takes full advantage of the stunning view of the Manhattan skyline. In North Gantry Plaza, the skyline is framed by restored gantries - gigantic structures that once transferred railcars onto rail barges. Framed by tree-shaded cafes, a fog fountain and game tables, the plaza accommodates 30,000 viewers for the 4th of July fireworks. South Gantry Interpretive Garden is a contemplative space formed by two paths; here, stepping-stone blocks provide the visitor with direct access to the water and look as if they had been abandoned only yesterday. Peninsula Park offers a great lawn promontory with a natural shoreline edge. It is enhanced with willow trees and natural grasses and encourages a wide variety of passive activities, foremost of which is enjoying the stunning view of the Manhattan skyline.

This extraordinary site was blessed with a diverse shoreline and an intact light industrial/blue collar residential neighborhood whose diversity inspired its design. This place serves much broader social purposes by healing a once-divided community and instilling in it a strong sense of neighborhood spirit and pride. That an alliance called Friends of Gantry Plaza State Park was formed by original residents to protect the park is a testament to the power of this place.

awards:

Honor Award – ASLA NY
Design Award – EDRA/PLACES
Honor Award – National ASLA
Tucker Architectural Award of Excellence
Grand Award – International Waterfront Center; Gateway Mall – st. louis, mo
Planning Excellence in Urban Design Award – Canadian Institute of Planners