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