Touches of Whimsy at World Trade Center’s Liberty Park


The design is by Joseph E. Brown, a landscape architect and the former chief innovation officer at Aecom, a giant architectural and engineering company.

The most unusual feature of Mr. Brown’s design is a vertical garden along Liberty Street. It wraps around the bays where trucks are cleared to serve the buildings of the trade center along a network of underground roadways and loading docks.

This “living wall,” by Plant Connection of Riverhead, N.Y., is composed of 826 panels filled with goldenstar, Baltic ivy, Japanese spurge, common periwinkle, coral bells and winter creeper, forming broad bands of color. The panels are cultivated in a horizontal position at the nursery, then shifted upright as the plants’ roots become anchored to the soil and the panels’ structure. Irrigation tubes punctured with tiny weep holes snake among the panels to keep the plants watered.

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The elevated park offers one acre of green space in Lower Manhattan and the setting for a Greek Orthodox shrine designed by Santiago Calatrava.

Credit
Alex Wroblewski/The New York Times

The park project was intended partly to compensate the residential neighborhood south of the trade center for the 15 years of construction, disruption, dislocation and trauma it has suffered since the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. “We wanted to give a gift back to the community,” Mr. Plate said.

The elevated park serves as a setting for the St. Nicholas National Shrine, designed by Mr. Calatrava, which is now starting to assume recognizable form in concrete. It is also the new location of the “America’s Response Monument,” a sculpture by Douwe Blumberg of one of the Special Forces soldiers on horseback in the early years of the war in Afghanistan.

“America’s Response Monument,” subtitled “De Oppresso Liber,” a motto of the Special Forces, has been treated far more deferentially in recent years than Fritz Koenig’s “Sphere,” a sculpture that actually stood in the original World Trade Center plaza and survived the 2001 attack — symbolizing both loss and resilience. Mr. Koenig’s work was all but banished to Battery Park by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

When asked whether the installation of “America’s Response Monument” in Liberty Park foreclosed the return of the “Sphere” to the trade center site, Mr. Plate answered cryptically, “I didn’t say that.”

“The Koenig ‘Sphere’ is very special to the Port Authority,” he said. “We have thoughts as to how it could be accommodated in this facility; for our neighbors, for the families and for history.”

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