MNLA developed a comprehensive public realm master plan for Hudson Square, a once industrial neighborhood that is now an epicenter of New York City’s dynamic creative industries. The plan proposes far-reaching initiatives to create a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable network of spaces.
MNLA’s plan for the district identified an extreme shortage of public space. Though the neighborhood bears the brunt of Holland Tunnel traffic, there are two acres of unused space among the four tunnel approach routes. With some creative planning and the cooperation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Hudson Square BID, three temporary but long-term landscapes have taken root.
Within these three spaces, it is remarkably quiet, as cars no longer honk once they are in the queue to enter the tunnel. The design augments existing mature trees with understory and low-level plantings and infilled the large ballast stone surface with finer-grain aggregates. Simple platforms of recycled lumber support tables and chairs as well as loungers. After a couple of successful years of use, the plazas were further enhanced with a Noguchi play sculpture, a synthetic turf surface for events and solar wifi charging stations. Today, lunchtime yoga and music events frequent the space, and many district workers find themselves enjoying the spacious, sunlit, and serene comfort of Freeman Plaza.
What could be more unlikely than public space in the midst of Holland Tunnel traffic?