The Cooper Union
School of Architecture


This project won the International Open Competition for the redesign of Lieutenant Petrosino Park. The proposed design creates a programmatic, cultural and spatial connection between the park and its surroundings. A hanging garden extends from the facades of the surrounding buildings to a series of columns within the park. Neighboring residents are invited to participate directly from their homes in selecting, growing and planting the flowering vines and ivy that constitute the garden. Each willing participant shall have a planter box with cable connections installed below their window. The residents grow plants from the private domain to the public, while the city grows plants from the park toward the surrounding buildings; the plants meet over the street. This simple gesture provides animated patterns of light and shade at ground level, and a view of the street through a levitating tapestry of greenery and flowers from the windows above.

The existing 7000 square foot park is located at the intersection of Lafayette and Kenmare streets at the threshold between Chinatown, Little Italy and Soho. The framework of cables and columns provides an ideal structure for a variety of community interventions. The Italian community may cover the columns and cables with shimmering lights during the San Gennaro Festival or Christmas, while the Chinese could display colored lanterns and dragons for the Chinese New Year festivities. During the summer local artists may suspend projection screens for film and video festivals or create sculptural works that use the columns as a structural base. The design of the structure and landscape allows the park to function as a flexible extension of New York City’s urban fabric, incorporating a variety of diverse contributions into an ever-changing collage of city culture and vegetation. The parkscape evolves from a projection of the surrounding building facades on to the ground-plane. Doorways, windows and other architectural features become planter boxes, seating, fountains and areas for rest or play, thus connecting the park to the communities’ own cultural history through its architecture.

By using the sky plane as a garden, the design reduces noise and air pollution to the surrounding residences, puts planting out of the reach of vandals and adds a new level of interest from the ground level. Spatially the pergola serves to integrate the streets, sidewalks and building facades into the park, creating a kind of exterior room whose walls, floor, and ceiling are alive with the energy of the community. This is a living park, transformed each season by the imagination of its users.

Assistant Professor, Adjunct Faculty