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