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

TRD New York /
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 Article

From left: Prabal Gurung, Dana Lorenz and Stephen Ross (Credit: Getty Images)

Stephen Ross backlash hits Hudson Yards

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

Facebook close to finalizing Hudson Yards office deal: report

Stephen Ross at the opening of the Hudson Yards

Stephen Ross says criticism of Hudson Yards reflects anti-business sentiment in NYC

From left to right: Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan (president of Stribling & Associates), developer Michael Shvo, MaryAnne Gilmartin (CEO of L&L Mag), Vishaan Chakrabarti (founder of PAU Studio) (Credit: Emily Assiran)

Developers and brokerage heads riff on Stribling sale, condo pricing and myths about Billionaires’ Row at TRD forum

RXR Realty's Scott Rechler and CBRE's MaryAnn Tighe (Credit: Emily Assiran)

Rechler and Tighe on the future of CRE and city politics

SL Green’s locks in big bank lease at
Hudson Yards redevelopment site

NYCHA abandons Hudson Yards-linked development plans

Hudson Yards office rents on the rise, Google reshapes Midtown South market and more of the biggest trends in CRE right now