1999–2004, south section 2010
This site is included in LMCC’s Creative Insider’s Guide to Lower Manhattan, sponsored by Launch LM.
Built on 92 acres of landfill, Battery Park City is a planned community. Designed by Alexander Cooper and Stanton Eckstut in the late 1970s, it features a conscious mix of residential, commercial and institutional structures, as well as various public spaces. Among the best known is the waterfront esplanade, a mile-long promenade connecting Battery Park and Hudson River Park. In a neighborhood containing numerous amenities, including playgrounds, athletic fields and a marina, an additional park might seem redundant or even unnecessary. Nevertheless, Teardrop Park, which parallels the esplanade between Murray and Warren Streets, is one of Battery Park City’s loveliest spaces. Michael Van Valkenburg Associates was awarded the commission in 1999. As with his design for Brooklyn Bridge Park, this firm tends to favor a sculpted terrain juxtaposing trim lawns with dense plantings that recall the picturesque work of the 19th century landscape designers Olmsted & Vaux.
Teardrop Park is ringed on all sides by tall apartment houses. Hidden from the adjoining streets, unlike most sections of Battery Park City, this 2.2 acre park features lush vegetation, curving pathways, dramatic changes in grade, sand pits, and one of Manhattan’s better playground slides. The park’s centerpiece, a 168-foot-long wall, was created by the artists Ann Hamilton and Michael Mercil. Faced with a veneer of tightly-stacked, horizontal slabs of blue stone, it reportedly weighs 1,900 tons and contains ten small spouts that trickle water continuously. The 27-foot-tall wall is particularly dramatic during the winter months when the water freezes. According to Hamilton, this and other stoneworks in Teardrop Park are intended to “evoke a sense of geological flux and transition between present time (now) and past time (then).”
The wall also conforms to the Battery Park City Authority’s “Green Guidelines.” Issued in 2000 and 2002, this innovative program requires that all projects incorporate local and regional materials while practicing sustainable environmental practices. Consequently, the strikingly-colored bluestone was quarried near Albany in the Hudson River Valley and the selection of native plants are irrigated with recycled gray water collected from the adjoining Solaire (2002), one of the earliest “green” high-rise residential buildings in the United States. To increase natural light in this often shady environment, three heliostats have also been installed on the roof of the Verdesian apartments (2006). Eight feet in diameter, these circular mirrors track the movement of the sun and reflect it into the park’s south section, where a covered passage leads towards Vesey Street and the Irish Hunger Memorial.
– Matthew A. Postal