Urban Fold

In New York, a Lush Oasis Sprouts Amid a 16-Lane Roadway

The Wall Street Journal profiles the astonishing $45 million renovation of Queens Plaza, where "a wasteland of potholed roads, a parking lot and elevated subway tracks" has been transformed into an urban oasis.

Led by landscape architect Margie Ruddick, with a team of collaborators including Marpillero Pollak Architects, Judith Heintz of the landscape architecture firm WRT, artist Michael Singer and lighting artist Leni Schwendinger, the linear park is "shining proof of the power of enlightened urban planning, talent, taste, trees and other plants and, perhaps most of all, positive thinking to minimize, if not wholly eradicate, the effects of an otherwise hostile environment," observes Ralph Gardner Jr.

Located amid a 16-lane roadway where pedestrians were commonly hit by cars, Gardner believes, "the most challenging aspect of the project was redirecting the flow of traffic, the work of the Department of City Planning and the traffic engineering firm Eng-Wong, Taub-timing lights and situating medians to increase safety in tandem with improving the plaza's aesthetics."

"One way this was achieved was by using medians decorated with jagged chunks of demolished concrete from the construction. That may not sound particularly attractive, but it somehow works. It's visually arresting, and at the same time sends motorists a message not to mess with pedestrians waiting to cross at the light." 

Full Story: In Queens, An Artistic Alteration

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