Discover This project features three associated projects.

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.

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.

Belleville Turnpike Boardwalk
Urban wilderness duck blind
Four Corners/Concrete beach
Garbage hill identification
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
Tidal fret boardwalk
The Meadows Parkway oops lanes
Phragmite path typologies
Sawmill Creek glowing buoys
Sinking/Rising measuring
Snake Hill
Railway blinkers
Schuyler belvedere
Walden Beach access
Concept model – current condition
Concept model – the future

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