Located on the southwestern tip of lower Manhattan along the Hudson River in New York City is Battery Park City, a 92-acre planned urban community built upon rubble-filled land that was excavated to construct the nearby World Trade Center. Battery Park City is owned and managed by the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), a public benefit corporation that was created by the New York State Legislature in 1968 to oversee its planning and growth. In less than 30 years, the creation of Battery Park City has transformed a once downtrodden riverfront area plagued by deterioration and poverty into a vibrant neighborhood, “welcoming the diverse people of New York City to work, shop, eat, play, relax, and most important, live.”
From its inception, environmentally-sensitive planning has been a priority for the BPCA. This commitment, however, reached a new crescendo in 1999 when the Authority’s governing board took action that would profoundly impact all future construction. Under the leadership of Gov. George Pataki and BPCA President and CEO Timothy S. Carey, the Authority adopted a rigorous set of residential and commercial guidelines for sustainable development.
Leadership for this unique urban success story was never more crucial, however, than in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Because of Battery Park City’s close proximity to Ground Zero, its citizens were forced to flee. The community remained partially closed for months thereafter, and residents were forced to answer the ultimate question of whether or not to continue living in the area. Four years later it is strikingly apparent that the answer to the perplexing question has been a resounding, “Yes!” The community is once again thriving commercially and is now home to more residents than ever before.
Truly rising from the ashes, the neighborhood has opened new public parks, cultural attractions, and buildings that reflect the latest in sustainable design. For example, the 27-story Solaire, completed in 2003, has the distinction of being the nation’s first environmentally-responsible high-rise residential building. The luxury tower has paved the way for other development projects in Battery Park City with even greater earth-friendly features. When the master plan is fully implemented, Battery Park City will have been responsible for the design and construction of nearly 5 million square feet of sustainable development.
Because of the innovative and progressive leadership provided by BPCA, Battery Park City has become a model blueprint for the urban community of the 21st century. The BPCA has received numerous accolades and awards for outstanding achievements in the areas of architecture, design, and sustainable development. In bestowing The Landmark Award on Battery Park City in 2003, the American Society of Landscape Architects stated, “Battery Park City is a success because the Battery Park City Authority is a visionary owner dedicated to sustain the energy of the master plan and being a patron of a well-designed public space.”
Battery Park City continues to thrive as a “suburban/urban” community on Manhattan’s lower west side. Today, the area has 17,000 residents, 52 shops and services, three public schools, 36 acres of parks, a marina, and a 1.2 mile esplanade. In addition, it is home to the Irish Hunger Memorial, Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Skyscraper Museum, Poets House, and the Battery Park City Library.