In 1999, PLANT was asked to develop a conceptual master plan for a 20,000-acre area across the Hudson River from Manhattan known as the Hackensack Meadows. The project consists of an overall strategy for the long-term development of this complex area, as well as a series of demonstration projects whose aim is to change peoples’ perception of the place.

You are here.
You are here.

The Hackensack Meadowlands is a complex area of open space, highways, rail lines, landfills, mosquito ditches, towns, inter-tidal marshland and wildlife just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. It is a very easy place to get over, but notoriously hard to get into. We were asked to develop a new vision and master plan for this neglected, defaced, and eroded area. There is a long history of battles against marshland infill, development and garbage dumping, attempted preservation and restoration.
Our work here has been about trying to formulate an idea of what this whole place is about. The New Jersey Meadows are a really big place. For us, its overlapping histories – human, ecological, geological – are equally important for generating, interpreting, and enhancing the experience of visitors. It is an urban wilderness.
Our strategy involved a comprehensive reconsideration of the area – one which proposes the complexity be contained within a singularity: We defined the place by its natural and imposed (contemporary industrial) geology – we defined it as a geological basin formed by water. This shaped our political and economic strategy which proposes the whole area become a park – a single cultural idea – which would contain the wildlife alongside the intense man-made texture. Sustainable development is planned within the park, but only as it can reinforce the spatial definition of the place and maintain the health of the place.

Garbage hill identification
Garbage hill identification
Urban wilderness duck blind
Urban wilderness duck blind
Belleville Turnpike Boardwalk
Belleville Turnpike Boardwalk
Four Corners/Concrete beach
Four Corners/Concrete beach
The river of rooms
The river of rooms

The concept plan structures four kinds of projects – ones which define boundaries – with look outs from the edges of the basin, and train blinkers which demarcate and accentuate the moment of entering and exiting of the basin; backbone routes/linkages and paths, which give access TO the park rather than just through it – from major roads and trains, and use utility corridors and abandoned rail lines to give access to canoe launches and beach heads; monuments which capitalize on all the possible opportunities for high panoramic views – really emphasizing the sky in contrast to Manhattan – by giving access to the top of snake hill (real geology) and the garbage hills (new geology), and finally the enhancement of intimate and characteristically Meadows places like the urban wilderness duckblind – a place where every conceivable form of infrastructure co-habitates with a duck population.

We have found opportunities which are afforded because of, not despite the altered landscape: an outrageous number of transportation and utility corridors carve up the space haphazardly yet provide infinite opportunities for access; the plethora and variety of bridges on the Hackensack River are a constant interruption, yet on a very large scale act like thresholds into the rooms of the river and make it more comprehensible; mosquito ditches which have forever altered the character and ecological diversity of the wetlands in places point to fabulous intimate views to far off places like the Empire State Building; the capped garbage hills have filled the marshland, and dirtied the water, but now offer some of the most significant high views, in their differential settlement create entirely new emergent ecologies on their tops, and, finally, are potent monuments to our waste culture.

The ESB viewing bench
The ESB viewing bench
Tidal fret boardwalk
Tidal fret boardwalk
The Meadows Parkway oops lanes
The Meadows Parkway oops lanes
Phragmite path typologies
Phragmite path typologies
Sawmill Creek glowing buoys
Sawmill Creek glowing buoys
Sinking/Rising measuring
Sinking/Rising measuring
Snake Hill
Snake Hill
Railway blinkers
Railway blinkers
Schuyler belvedere
Schuyler belvedere
Walden Beach access
Walden Beach access
Concept model - current condition
Concept model - current condition
Concept model - the future
Concept model - the future

project index

  1. A Conversation of Views
  2. Admiral Road Garden
  3. Airdrie Road Garden
  4. Airdrie Road Residence
  5. Albany Avenue Residence
  6. Alexandra Park
  7. Aporia Records
  8. Asphalt Poetry
  9. – Poem
  10. Baby Point Gardens
  11. Beach Garden
  12. Beach Village BIA Master Plan
  13. Beaty Residence
  14. Bennington Heights Garden
  15. Berkeley Street Residence
  16. Bin-Scarth Garden
  17. Blink and you miss it.
  18. – Poem
  19. Block 22 Landscape
  20. Bloor St. Apartment
  21. Blue Note
  22. Booth Avenue Residence
  23. Boustrophedon Garden
  24. Braemore Gardens Residence
  25. Browning Avenue Residence
  26. Brunswick Avenue Residence
  27. Camp Arowhon Offices
  28. Canadian Firefighters Memorial
  29. Channelled Buried Moved Lost
  30. Chocolate Loft
  31. City Instrument
  32. Clarendon Garden
  33. Conversation Piece
  34. Cortleigh Boulevard Garden
  35. Creemore Farm
  36. Danforth Mosaic BIA Master Plan
  37. Dickson Park Garden
  38. Dilworth Residence
  39. Don Landing Revitalization
  40. Dublin Grounds of Remembrance
  41. Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden
  42. Dupont-by-the-Castle BIA
  43. East Point Bird Sanctuary
  44. Eglinton Ave Forecourt
  45. Eglinton Park Master Plan
  46. Elizabeth Fry Society
  47. Ellsworth Residence
  48. Face to Face | Tête à Tête
  49. First Avenue Garden
  50. First Avenue Residence
  51. Flyover Canada
  52. Foote’s Pond Wood
  53. Forest Hill Village Streetscape
  54. Gaze, Glimpse, Glance
  55. Goldring Landscape, University of Toronto
  56. Gormley Garden
  57. Governor's Bridge Lookout
  58. Greener P
  59. Greer Road Garden
  60. Greer Road Residence
  61. Guelph Bridge
  62. Head in the Clouds
  63. Helena Ave Residence 4
  64. Junction Craft Brewery
  65. Kelpies Competition
  66. Kew Gardens Streetscape
  67. King's Landing Apartment
  68. Kipling & Islington Developments
  69. Le jardin du repos
  70. Lenticular Curtain
  71. Leslie Slip Lookout Park
  72. Liberty Village Parkettes
  73. Liza’s Garden
  74. Lynwood Garden
  75. Macroscape
  76. Markham Garden One
  77. Markham Street Residence Two
  78. Midtown Yonge Streetscape
  79. Mulock Park
  80. Nathan Phillips Square
  81. – Streetscape
  82. – Peace Garden
  83. – Podium Roof Garden
  84. Octane Medical Campus
  85. Orchard View Garden
  86. Osgoode Atkinson Green Competition
  87. Owl Cottage
  88. Paperstone Scissors
  89. Pendrith Residence
  90. Peripheral Sitings
  91. Pottery Road Crossing
  92. rare
  93. Ravine Forecourt
  94. Ribbon of the Lower Don
  95. Riverside BIA Master Plan
  96. Roxborough Garden One
  97. Roxborough Garden Two
  98. Schulich School of Business
  99. Sheridan College
  100. – Trafalgar Campus Master Plan
  101. Spadina Quay Wetland
  102. St. Anne's Road Garden
  103. Stratford Market Square Competition
  104. Stratford Patterson Theatre Competition
  105. Superkids Dental
  106. Superlegible
  107. Sweet Farm
  108. Sweet Farm Pond House
  109. Swift Medical Offices
  110. The Meadows Reconsidered
  111. The Red Sash
  112. Thick & Thin
  113. Thistletown II Townhouses
  114. Tipping Point
  115. TMU Centre for Urban Innovation
  116. TMU Science Building
  117. Tranby Garden
  118. Tree House Residence
  119. UBC Okanagan – The Commons
  120. UHN Tunnels
  121. University of Toronto Mississauga Welcome Centre
  122. Venice Biennale 2012
  123. Vermont Square Park
  124. Vernon Avenue Garden
  125. Walk the Walk
  126. Walmer Road Residence
  127. Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial
  128. Wellesley Cottages Garden
  129. Wells Street Residence
  130. Westminster Residence
  131. Weston Village BIA Masterplan
  132. With Words as Their Actions
  133. Woodlawn Avenue Residence
  134. Woven Stories
  135. York Park