Landscape architects West 8 created NYC’s largest private outdoor garden at One Manhattan Square

June 22, 2020

Rendering courtesy of Extell

The coronavirus pandemic–which forced New Yorkers to shelter in place and adhere to social distancing rules–has many apartment dwellers longing for private outdoor space. While a lot of us would be content with a balcony or rooftop access, Extell, the developer behind One Manhattan Square, has taken the idea of residential outdoor space to the next level. At the Lower East Side condo tower, residents have access to 45,000 square feet of green space designed by landscape architecture firm West 8. Considered to be one of the largest private gardens in the city, the East River-facing green space is uniquely located on an incline and contains several distinct areas designed for active and passive use. Ahead, hear from the team at West 8 on creating an urban oasis in one of the city’s busiest neighborhoods as well as the many perks of the space, including an adult treehouse, tea pavilion, star-gazing observatory, and more.

one manhattan square, lower east side, new developments, amenities
Image courtesy of Extell Marketing Group/One Manhattan Square

Where did the designers draw inspiration from?

When designing the 45,000 square feet of green space at One Manhattan Square, we looked at the unique situation of the building with its stunning waterfront location. Overlooking the East River, the extraordinary conditions allowed for the creation of a gradually inclining landscape that incorporates a series of garden spaces, each with their own character and theme. Together they create a linear experience that invites visitors to explore. The gardens include spaces for both passive and active areas, with places to grill, play ping pong, and stargaze in an observatory. There is an adult treehouse, a tea pavilion, a putting green, and a children’s playground.

We have reinterpreted the classic garden typology and repurposed it for modern needs. The gardens offer places of respite and heighten the senses through a seasonal color change, fragrances, and sounds. The gardens act as an antidote to the built environment of the city and allow users to disconnect from the daily bustle.

250 south street, extell, lower east side tower
Rendering of the garden’s treehouse courtesy of Extell

What types of challenges did the site’s waterfront location pose?

The waterfront location was an opportunity to reframe the stunning views and cityscape as moments of the garden design; a backdrop to a beautiful inner world. In the design of the garden spaces, we sought to create a great balance between intimate and open spaces, and celebrate the closeness of the river by providing residents with these magnificent views.

The garden contains different zones that provide residents the feeling of seclusion. How did West 8 achieve this and why are these separate spaces necessary?

West 8’s design created a collection of beautiful outdoor rooms for the inhabitants to use as shared amenity spaces. It offers a variety of charming spaces – providing residents with different options to choose from, depending on their personal preferences. These separate atmospheres vary from quiet spaces to relax on your own, open areas for social groups, or room for families with children to play. As with many of our designs, we invite residents to play and inhabit spaces free of prescription, as we give space to interpretation and exploration.

250 south street, extell, lower east side tower
Rendering of the garden’s tea house courtesy of Extell

Tell us about the use of seasonal plants in the garden.

In the planting schemes, we have crafted a fine balance between verdant evergreen and exciting seasonal planting, to create specific moments of animation throughout the year. In the autumn, the Sumac Meander will transform into a dazzling collection of bright orange and red leaves. In the spring and early summer, we positioned Cherry Blossom and Azaleas to adorn the tea pavilion in a bright pink backdrop. Lastly, in the later winter, Witch-Hazel will provide the entrance with a crisp and warming yellow.

250 south street, extell, lower east side tower
Rendering courtesy of Extell

What makes this residential garden unique compared to others in the city?

In this incredible location, the sheer size and diversity of atmospheres are unparalleled. Embracing the building with a series of crafted atmospheres that residents can enjoy, One Manhattan Square’s garden spaces float across different levels to embrace and complement the building with a series of distinctive and high-quality outdoor spaces.



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