Hudson Yards’ green space presents unusual challenges

The 4.5-acre Public Square may look like a garden but it’s a feat of engineering

Jul.July 26, 2015 04:00 PM

Large portions of Hudson Yards will sit over the 26-acre West Side Storage Yard – where hundreds of LIRR cars are stored – and that has presented an unusual challenge for the designers of the project’s green space.

Hudson Yards’ 4.5-acre Public Square will look like a garden when it is finally finished in late 2018, but in fact it will actually be the roof of a working rail yard. And that means soil and roots, the cooling system for the roots, the water supply and storage, storm drainage, ventilation for the rail yard, and the utilities and sewage lines must fit into a layer of the roof ranging from just 18 inches to seven feet, according to the New York Times.

“All the things we put into the ground without thinking, we have to sandwich here,” Thomas Woltz, principal of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, designers of the square, told the Times. “We went through a lot of acrobatics to get a healthy, long-living horticulture.”


One solution was to build a plenum – a six-foot high empty space for ventilation. Above the plenum, a 60,000-gallon collection tank will store rainwater, which will irrigate 225 trees and 28,000 plants.

The beds for the trees and plants will be just 18 inches to four feet deep, and saved from the heat below by “concrete slabs threaded with conduits carrying glycol coolant.”

The takeaway: building a green space atop a train yard ain’t easy. [NYT] Christopher Cameron

Related Articles

(Image by Wolfgang & Hite via Dezeen)

Hudson Yards megadevelopment inspires a new line of sex toys

The Observation Deck at Hudson Yards (Credit: Adam Pogoff)

Views from 1,100 feet: A tour of Related’s “the edge,” the tallest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Hudson Yards (Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia)

Facebook close to finalizing Hudson Yards office deal: report

(Credit: iStock)

EB-5 is back in the doghouse

Georgetown president and CEO Adam Flatto and an aerial of 260 12th Avenue (Credit: Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images; Google Maps)

Georgetown plans 1.1M sf Hudson Yards office building

Empire State Realty Trust’s CEO Tony Malkin and Hudson Yards' The Edge (Credit: Getty Images)

Tony Malkin throws shade at Hudson Yards’ new observatory

Steve Ross, Eliot Spitzer and a rendering of 451 10th Avenue (Credit: Getty Images) 

Spitzer, Related land $276M in financing for Hudson Yards senior housing project

From left: 330 Madison Avenue, 66 Hudson Boulevard and 599 Lexington Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)

Law firms topped the list of January’s biggest office leases in NYC