See the ambitious proposal for a climate change research center on Governors Island

Posted On Thu, September 17, 2020 By

Posted On Thu, September 17, 2020 By In Design, Manhattan

Rendering of the western promenade; Credit: WXY architecture + urban design/bloomimages

Plans to bring a climate change research center on Governors Island are moving ahead. The Trust for Governors Island on Thursday unveiled a proposal for a new research center that would be dedicated to studying the impacts of climate change and serve as a platform for environmental justice organizations and solutions-based public programs. The project involves rezoning the southern end of the island to make space for up to about 4 million square feet of development. The rezoning proposal is expected to enter the city’s formal public land-use review process next month.


The overall vision for climate change center; Credit: WXY architecture + urban design/bloomimages

“As a city of islands with 520 miles of coastline, the devastating impacts of climate change remain one of the most urgent issues facing our communities,” Alicia Glen, Trust for Governors Island Chair, said.

“This exciting plan for Governors Island will bring a tremendous resource that not only represents an important step forward for the City’s recovery but also acknowledges and builds upon our history as the global center for innovation and progress.”


“Yankee Pier Plaza.” Credit: WXY architecture + urban design/bloomimages


Southeastern promenade; Credit: WXY architecture + urban design/bloomimages

According to the Trust, the center could be anchored by an academic or research group that would work together with other fields to bring “climate science, policy, communications, climate justice initiatives and solution development under one roof,” according to a press release. And a “living laboratory” could invite the island’s one million annual visitors to learn and discuss climate change solutions through public art and programs.

The city’s effort to transform Governors Island into a 24/7 community has been in the works since it acquired the land ten years ago. Following a 2010 master plan, the city brought a 40-acre park, ball fields, cultural institutions, food vendors, and public programs to the island.

The public review process for rezoning 33 acres of the land’s southern side kicked off in 2018. Following the zoning change, any new development on the island could include mixed-use buildings and office space for “academic, commercial, non-profit, cultural, convening and hospitality facilities.”

Although a federal deed restricts residential development on Governors Island, student dorms and hotels would be permitted. All earned revenue generated through the rezoning will go toward Governors Island maintenance, property management, transit, utilities, and infrastructure.


“Fort Jay Theater.” Credit: WXY architecture + urban design/bloomimages


Hammock Grove; Credit: WXY architecture + urban design/bloomimages

“As we watch California burn while record-setting hurricanes pummel Louisiana, it is clear that even amid a pandemic we cannot lose sight of our looming climate crisis,” Daniel Zarrilli, the city’s chief climate policy advisor, said.

“Today’s announcement of a climate solutions hub on Governors Island is exactly the kind of initiative we need to deliver on New York City’s world-leading Green New Deal and end the age of fossil fuels.”

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Credit: WXY architecture + urban design/bloomimages

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