Seating, lighting and other furnishings are critical to the visitor’s experience of any public space or park. An array of well-designed and well-located furnishings makes for a comfortable and inviting experience. Furnishings help establish character and feel. They also must be highly functional in terms of maintenance, durability, replacement cost and ease of use.

All of the furnishings provide a necessary function (like trash receptacles) but will be carefully selected from manufacturers or designed by the West 8 Team to seamlessly integrate into the park and public space design. Custom-designed elements will be durable, functional, comfortable, and enjoyable. Seating edges and benches will be inviting for sitting upright or laying back. The promenade railing will be designed for safety and delight. Light posts will be placed for minimal intrusion in the landscape. Drinking fountains, handrails, signage, and additional furnishings like barbecue grills and picnic tables will respect value and function as well.

The West 8-designed furnishings will draw from the vast pool of inspiration that the Island provides for clues to embellish the designs. Therefore, the sea might result in a promenade railing that appears to move like a school of fish. Fish-scale textures might appear on precast benches. The bottom of lamp posts may have a raptor’s claw “anchoring” them to the ground.

One of the signature experiences on the Island is riding the free Governors Island Bicycle. The free bicycle prototype designed by West 8 in the competition phase was assembled out of wood, readily available components and a distinctive basket.

The Governors Island Bicycle does not look like other bicycles because it is available only on Governors Island. It is made out of wood with a distinctive design because bicycling on the Island is an activity purely of recreation and pleasure. The bicycle is made out of natural materials because the Island is an oasis of green apart from the grid of the City. The free bicycle does not resemble conventional bicycles so the visitor will not confuse it with other visitors’ personal bicycles. It is available only on the Island, accessible by boat, so theft is not a concern. And the Governors Island Bicycle is a symbol of the Island’s democratic spirit because it is free.

The actual design of the Governors Island Bicycle will be specified during a later design phase. It should embody many of these unique qualities but must address practical concerns as well, including costs to assemble, repair and maintain, ease of use, safety, durability and flexibility. The construction budget includes the cost of 750 Governors Island Bicycles, and the operations and maintenance plan includes the costs of operating the program and maintaining the bicycles.

  • The Way It Works

    “The Way it Works” explains how the elements of the park and public space function. While the design is at the master plan stage, considerable work underlies the plan to ensure a strong foundation for future implementation. The West 8…

  • Program

    The program brief for the park and public space is based on a number of key principles:
    • To provide unique experiences that capitalize on the attributes of the Island and its harbor location
    • To create a destination that…

  • Topography

    A landscape architect’s most transformative space-making tool is grading. Grading is used functionally to channel run-off and provide adequate drainage. Beyond the purely functional, however, grading creates heaving bulges and recesses, small dips and peaks, and swaths of smooth, flat…

  • Views

    Parks are more pleasurable and more memorable if they have a rich layering of spatial qualities. The new topography at the southern portion of Governors Island cultivates the views of the Harbor. The park and public spaces will be designed…

  • Circulation

    Clear, organized circulation is essential to the legibility of the park and public spaces and to the safety of users. A network of pathways and roads serves pedestrians, bicyclists, and service vehicles, with a hierarchy of path uses and path…

  • Paving

    There is a conscious effort to correlate paving treatments and expression to the character of different park and public space areas and experiences. The horizontal plane underfoot (or under bicycle tires) contributes significantly to the experience.
    Stretches of path and…

  • Edging

    Edging is another key element of the Park and Public Space Master Plan. Edging surrounds and defines the perimeters of lawn and planted areas and the “pillow-shaped” topography. Edging serves multiple functions: clarifying paths, guiding bicyclists, and retaining grade. Its…

  • Planting

    The Historic District’s protected conditions, higher elevations and quality top soils make for ideal conditions to grow large, beautiful shade trees and support other plantings. On the southern half of the Island, poor quality soil, exposure to harsh salty winds,…

  • Park Buildings

    The Park and Public Space Master Plan includes conceptual-level designs for three buildings to serve visitors and their needs for rest, refreshment, and information: Soissons Ferry Pavilion, the Shell at Liberty Terrace, and the Cube at Yankee Landing.
    Governors Island…

Comments (13)

Comments —

  • I hope what ever design evolves from the experts, I hope in the end it will be a Park and not another recreational area with bicyclist and their hippodrome races or another group of baseball and soccer fields or entertainment stages. A real park experience of relaxation and contemplation and human exchange of greetings. No animals including pets, no hobbyist and model planes and cars. A human park and natural surroundings.

    By word of mouse on April 13, 2010 4:35 pm
  • I think this a great thing.
    I was there with my family during Holand week,what a fantastic experance.Free bikes,free ferrys,we never knew
    about Governors Island,the biking and the incredible views from everywhere. Now its going to be over the top.
    sonny ireland,Atlantic City.

    By sonny ireland on April 30, 2010 9:30 pm
  • What are “development zones”? And why is there not a single word about them on this website?

    By bob on June 1, 2010 6:07 am
  • Hi Bob,

    Development zones are 33 acres of space set aside on the island’s southern portion for new construction. These areas are not a part of West 8′s Park and Public Space Master Plan, but you can read more about them, and the Island’s future development, here: http://www.govislandpark.com/about-governors-island.

    By admin on June 2, 2010 5:04 am
  • Include a subway stop at Govenors Island. Appears the Brooklyn Battery tunnel runs close to the Island.

    By David on June 2, 2010 5:51 am
  • Can’t wait till we see it. It sounds wonderful. My husband worked on Governor’s Island for the Coast Guard and thought it was beautiful back then. What a wonderful addition to NYC

    By j carapazza on June 13, 2010 11:46 am
  • I sail. How about getting this island connected to the harbor by building/expanding docks with slips where small craft can moor for day trips ?

    By Rick van Valkenburg on September 7, 2010 1:57 pm
  • My wife and I first saw Governors Island when we came over from our home in Scotland for the fifth anniversary of 9/11. We both were surprised to see such a lovely wee island with lots of beautiful buildings not being used very much. However,the thought of all this work being done to the Island, for me is a step too far. Governors Islands beauty is its history and its significance to Americas history.To turn genuine historic buildings into cafes, restaurants and theatres is daft. Especially as you New Yorkers have a wee area called Broadway in the middle of your city.You also have Central Park. So it’s not like you need new parks. Governors Island is also a place New Yorkers can get away from it all. Whether on a lunch break or just to be away from the city for a wee while and you will not get that if it’s turned into a Mini Manhattan. Come on New York, keep Governors Island exactly what it is,a place of not only your history but your countries history. My wife nad I shall be back in your wondeful city in December of 2012 to spend a month there for my 40th birthday and hope it looks the way it did in 2006.

    By Jonny Campbell, Dundee. on October 7, 2010 5:57 am
  • what about a light rail tunnel connecting lower manhattan with governors island and continuing on to the old navy base on staten island for commuting?If you followed that with useing the rail already in place you could bring this train to snug harbor cultural centre and over to make connections for new jersey commuters to ease traffic in our city.If you made this a maglev train and built windmills along the water and west shore xpressway you could power it and help the grid.Maybe the feds would see this as a job creator and an interstate commuter project and fund it.If a tunnel to jersey was added all the better for a successful attempt.A green project with a long term useful end and lots of good jobs.What do you think?

    By mark w lane on February 17, 2011 11:10 am
  • Really agree with you comments here. I am uncertain if I would do it though :)

    By football tips on August 3, 2011 11:27 am
  • I agree with Jonny Cambell! and disagree with those who would add an interstate!! It should be kept as a historical place with the added plus of a place of relaxation. Keep the commercialization, cars, noise & animals out.

    By J. Costello on October 30, 2011 3:24 am
  • hi http://www.govislandpark.com-ers happy christmas to all of you – matt-mays

    By mattymays on December 22, 2011 5:13 am
  • since it is intended as waterfronts rehab project, more water access are needed: slips, piers even beaches and fishing places are needed. we are robbed of water access everywhere in NYC. Ferries should connect island with Brooklyn and Staten Island – that’s a given

    By Alexander Y on May 24, 2012 4:54 pm

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