The Light Rail Grand Passage – A Linear Garden

The Proposal

42nd street is a microcosm of NYC reflecting its multiple facets and the dynamic, diverse and undulating flow of the city. The iconic street traverses multiple environments; a walk from river to river is a journey through NYC’s atmosphere, pace, scenery and culture.

Three urban concepts employed for our proposed auto-free light rail boulevard on 42nd street:

  • A Large Linear Garden: We create an East-West linear garden lined with trees and an alternating grass and pavement track bed. The linear garden connects the Hudson and East Rivers, drawing the spirit of the river into the vibrant urban heart of the city.
  • The Light Rail Grand Passage: Like a chameleon, the light rail channels the character of each section of its host neighborhood. The design captures and emphasizes the spirit of the surroundings and harnesses the diversity to create a unified continuum that draws the energy from each into a singular “Grand Passage”.
  • The Grid: The street layout is designed as a continuation of the concept of the NYC grid plan with its grid streets and grid pattern facades. With this inspiration, the light rail becomes the fifth façade of the city. The street plan incorporates alternating sequences of components, materials, lighting, furniture, fountains, plants, pavement shapes and details which are planned around this horizontal grid pattern.

The Design:

The Spirit of the River (Milieus A) – The East and Hudson River waterfronts are designed as a vibrant green promenade to create a spirit of revival. As it enters 42nd street, the light rail draws that spirit into the city with its eateries, bars and coffee shops lined with open air tables. The bicycle lane, light rail and green pedestrian spaces are illuminated to ensure the vibrancy is alive day and night.
An intense urban life, the grand spectacle (Milieus B) – As the light rail moves inland from both shores, we bisect the intense urban city life between the P.A. Bus Terminal and Time square. The street adapts and accommodates the hustle and bustle with a wide pedestrian thoroughfare with a homogeneous pavement for the light rail and sidewalk. This facilitates the coexistence of the pedestrian intent on a destination with the loitering of the tourist and the local employee enjoying an outdoor lunch.
The Spirit of the Park (Milieus C) – Passing alongside Bryant Park and the grand edifice of the NYC public library, the light rail extends the tranquility of the park into the street while maintaining the character of the thoroughfare.
The U.N. Light Rail Station Plaza – The U.N. light rail station opens into a large plaza which offers a scenic vista overlooking the river. This plaza connects to the relocated East River Ferry Terminal and to the planned East River waterfront esplanade parallel to the U.N.
The Light Rail, part of the Show – The light rail itself, designed as a moving sidewalk, is a continuation of the public space. The journey on the light rail accommodates practical commuters alongside people discovering the show that is NYC. Day and night, the illuminated light rail will be an eye-catching part of that show.
From the riverside light rail promenade which calms and warms an intense soul, to the densely urban jungle of mid-town, THE LIGHT RAIL GRAND PASSAGE – A LINEAR GARDEN is sure to win the hearts and minds of the citizens of NY and the world for its practicality and beauty.

Team Members

Alfred Peter – Landscape Architect
Karen Listowsky – Designer
Charles Bové – D.P.L.G. Architect

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