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. Creemore Farm
  35. Danforth Mosaic BIA Master Plan
  36. Dickson Park Garden
  37. Dilworth Residence
  38. Don Landing Revitalization
  39. Dublin Grounds of Remembrance
  40. Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden
  41. Dupont-by-the-Castle BIA
  42. East Point Bird Sanctuary
  43. Eglinton Ave Forecourt
  44. Eglinton Park Master Plan
  45. Elizabeth Fry Society
  46. Ellsworth Residence
  47. Face to Face | Tête à Tête
  48. First Avenue Garden
  49. First Avenue Residence
  50. Flyover Canada
  51. Foote’s Pond Wood
  52. Forest Hill Village Streetscape
  53. Gaze, Glimpse, Glance
  54. Goldring Landscape, University of Toronto
  55. Gormley Garden
  56. Governor's Bridge Lookout
  57. Greener P
  58. Greer Road Garden
  59. Greer Road Residence
  60. Guelph Bridge
  61. Head in the Clouds
  62. Helena Ave Residence 4
  63. Junction Craft Brewery
  64. Kelpies Competition
  65. Kew Gardens Streetscape
  66. Kipling & Islington Developments
  67. Le jardin du repos
  68. Lenticular Curtain
  69. Leslie Slip Lookout Park
  70. Liberty Village Parkettes
  71. Liza’s Garden
  72. Lynwood Garden
  73. Macroscape
  74. Markham Garden One
  75. Markham Street Residence Two
  76. Midtown Yonge Streetscape
  77. Mulock Park
  78. Nathan Phillips Square
  79. – Streetscape
  80. – Peace Garden
  81. – Podium Roof Garden
  82. Orchard View Garden
  83. Osgoode Atkinson Green Competition
  84. Owl Cottage
  85. Paperstone Scissors
  86. Peripheral Sitings
  87. Pottery Road Crossing
  88. rare
  89. Ravine Forecourt
  90. Ribbon of the Lower Don
  91. Riverside BIA Master Plan
  92. Roxborough Garden One
  93. Roxborough Garden Two
  94. Ryerson Centre for Urban Innovation
  95. Ryerson University Science Building
  96. Schulich School of Business
  97. Sheridan College
  98. – Trafalgar Campus Master Plan
  99. Spadina Quay Wetland
  100. St. Anne's Road Garden
  101. Stratford Market Square Competition
  102. Stratford Patterson Theatre Competition
  103. Superkids Dental
  104. Superlegible
  105. Sweet Farm
  106. Sweet Farm Pond House
  107. Swift Medical Offices
  108. The Meadows Reconsidered
  109. The Red Sash
  110. Thick & Thin
  111. Thistletown II Townhouses
  112. Tipping Point
  113. Tranby Garden
  114. Tree House Residence
  115. UBC Okanagan – The Commons
  116. UHN Tunnels
  117. University of Toronto Mississauga Welcome Centre
  118. Venice Biennale 2012
  119. Vermont Square Park
  120. Vernon Avenue Garden
  121. Walk the Walk
  122. Walmer Road Residence
  123. Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial
  124. Wellesley Cottages Garden
  125. Wells Street Residence
  126. Westminster Residence
  127. With Words as Their Actions
  128. Woodlawn Avenue Residence
  129. Woven Stories
  130. York Park