Teardrop Park (North)

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) viewed children as the most important users and appointed NLI as play consultants engaged in every stage of the 1.75 acre Teardrop Park (North) design process, including safety and accessibility reviews. Located in Battery Park City (BPC), Manhattan, connected to the Hudson River Promenade, Teardrop Park is a compelling place for nature play and learning. Infant and toddler special needs are served by a separate space. Innovative play programs led by BPC Parks Conservancy take advantage of the dramatic, 3-dimensional, diverse, verdant landscape, from highly active to quietly explorable.

The mission: Create a public park in lower Manhattan that transcends its small, overshadowed site and mid-block location through bold topography, complex irregular spaces, and robust plantings, from ground covers to trees. A biodivers playground for all, including wildlife – especially birds.

Design goals: Respond to the harsh local microclimate (wind off the Hudson River) and lack of sunlight (overshadowing by tall buildings). Sustainability as an organizing principle, including fully organic soils and maintenance regimes, recycled materials and gray water from adjacent apartment buildings, and captured rainwater for irrigation. Offer urban children adventure and a green sanctuary engaging mind and body. Create a complex, three-dimensional landscape using topography, water features, natural stone, and lush plantings to achieve intricately choreographed views and dramatic changes in scale.

Planning and design process: A series of work sessions conducted by BPCA with the design team and representatives of the many city interests. MVVA presented a range of conceptual approaches from classic axial to avant garde, which evolved into a complex, intricate design of 15 distinct settings, including art works, linked by a hierarchy of sinuous pathways.

Primary settings: Shadbush Hill, Tunnel, Water Play, Slide Hill, Sand Lot, Sand Cove, Amphitheater, Overlook, Marsh (children’s natural hideaway), Lawn Bowl, Geologic Section, Beech Grove, Reading Circle (favorite adolescent hangout), Ice Wall, Witchhazel Dell, and multiple broad to narrow pathways.