Fantasy Island


Three thousand free wooden bikes would allow for rapid circumnavigation on looping, leafy paths.

New York Magazine features five finalists in a competition to turn Governors Island into an urban paradise:

A large team (composed of landscape architects West 8 and Quennell Rothschild & Partners, architects Rogers Marvel and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and planners SMWM) proposes a hybrid of landscape and architecture, based around a sinuous set of new watercourses and paths. Development would follow the eastern edge and hug a new waterway, with a DS+R ferry terminal. Proceeding south, a visitor would encounter the Vertical Landscape, mountains popping up out of the flat southern tip that would integrate active recreational, cultural, and educational functions. Inside could be snack bars, exhibits, a funicular, and caves for spelunking. Says West 8 partner Jerry van Eyck: "We wanted to give it the attitude of a national park, one with primal nature, robustness, where you don’t feel the hand of man." (Although with certain amenities: The plan would also supply 3,000 wooden bicycles and 3,000 wooden armchairs.)

Rendering: West 8/Rogers Marvel Architects/Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Quennell Rothschild/SMWM

  • ddartley

    In their drawings, they should have photoshopped in images of cops confiscating the bikes.

  • Jmc

    Why are the bikes wooden? Wouldn’t it make sense to use metal for the purposes of durability?

    Architects are strange.

  • Brad Aaron

    dartley – Your comment almost made me spit out my 7UP. So, LOL.

  • Anon

    While all this is wonderful, what I have never understood about the grandiose plans for Gov Isle is the fact that it sits at sea level. With global warming bringing rising waters and more frequent storms, is it worth it to put so much investment into such a vulnerable location?

  • Eric

    Never mind the investment – who picked the finalists? These are our only options? How about turning it into a university campus? Or returning it to its natural state (never mind that the entire southern portion of the island was created from fill generated by the excavation of the Lexington Avenue subway).

    As for those bikes, be forewarned that cyclists are thus far relegated to the bike lane rimming the northern portion of the island (based on a bike visit on opening day, this past Saturday). We were told not to bike in the interior, because of the presence of “kids.” Of course, no similar ban applied to shuttle buses or golf carts, which have apparently been proven less harmful to children in collisions than have bicycles.

    Do go check out Governor’s Island, though, before the powers that be turn it into Luxury Condo Isle.

  • It would make an awsome campus for a public boarding school for troubled teens. You could have gardens and other therapeutic activities there.

    I think the bikes look cool… but won’t they break easily?


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