Opened in 1973 as Harlem River Park, Roberto Clemente State Park is a 25-acre waterfront venue located along the Harlem River in the Bronx offering year-round recreational and cultural activities. MNLA was commissioned to improve three key aspects of the site.
The Lower Plaza area within Roberto Clemente State Park was reimagined by MNLA in close coordination with New York State Parks. The 1.6-acre site design is part of a larger effort to address damage that occurred during Superstorm Sandy and to visually reconnect the park to the adjacent river.
The redesigned plaza opens up views while preserving trees within the space to maintain and expand the existing barbecue grove, a favorite community amenity. Planting beds and a variety of paving types are used to define smaller, more intimate areas for families to gather. A game area that includes chess, skullies, and ping pong provides a zone within the plaza for patrons of all ages to play. The nearby stage and shade structure creates a node for community events while providing a “perch” for informal seating and relaxation at the river's edge.
The relationship of Lower Plaza to the Harlem River is further reinforced at the 13,300 sf Tidal Pool along the plaza’s western edge. Also designed by MNLA, the goal is for stormwater captured in the Lower Plaza to feed into the Tidal Pool system and be a prominent actor in an ecologic dynamic that could have naturally occurred unnoticed.