Having broken ground just over a month ago, Governors Island has little to show for its ongoing makeover, but the praise for the park's redesign is already coming in. New York Magazine's Justin Davidson calls West 8's plans for the $300 million renovation "deliciously mellow," reminding us that this haven of green space could have been turned into an island of high rises or an amusement park. Instead, the design decisions were made after hours of observing Governors Islands' visitors, resulting in "a space designed for the way people actually behave rather than the way architects think they ought to." The renovations include a new welcoming area at Soissons Landing, a relaxing hammock grove, and a new terrace in front of Ligget Hall that leads to new gardens and kid-friendly fountains and plantings.
In the new design, the unbending symmetry of Liggett Hall and the star-shaped Fort Jay gives way to a zone of curving paths, geysering water jets, and petal-shaped perennial beds. Those curves are reproduced at every scale?in the squiggly lines carved into the undulating surfaces of precast-concrete benches and in the bending borders of the park. Toddlers can get thrillingly lost and still be supervised in the sinuous mazes, their boxleaf-holly walls shin-high to an adult. The layout is asymmetrical but rational, complex yet intuitive, echoing nature’s fractal patterns without being ostentatiously avant-garde. Military protocol has been vanquished by flower power.This is only the first phase of the masterplan for Governors Island, but the other 33 acres have yet to receive funding. If this gets funding, the 2-mile promenade that surrounds the island will be refurbished, a "cresting wave of earth" called the Hills will be added, and a pavilion by Diller Scofidio+Renfro will be built.
· Justin Davidson on the Redesigned Governors Island [NYM]
· Governors Island coverage [Curbed]