Vibrant New Pedestrian Plaza Called Gansevoort Landing Opens in Meatpacking District

City officials recently unveiled Gansevoort Landing, the first of several pedestrian-focused transformational projects designed to revamp the District’s character and make it a more people-centered space.

| 02 Oct 2023 | 05:48

The once empty and unused patch of land between Gansevoort and Horatio Streets on 10th Avenue has now been upgraded with a playful new look, featuring a street mural by multidisciplinary artist Alake Shilling. Named Gansevoort Landing, the new public plaza is the first in a series of unused and abandoned road transformation projects – part of the Western Gateway Area Needs Report and Public Realm Vision program–unveiled this year. Later this fall, it will also give pedestrians direct access to the Gansevoort Peninsula, a soon-to-open public park within Hudson River Park.

“The debut of the Gansevoort Landing is proof that change can happen in record time,” said Jeffrey Le Francois, executive director of the Meatpacking District Management Association, the local BID.

The idea was to “reimagine our roads to be vibrant public spaces,” said Ydanis Rodriguez, New York City’s Department of Transportation Commissioner. “With this plaza, the greenery, seating, and beautiful public art have helped transform a formerly dangerous street into “an inviting pedestrian haven with safer crossings between the Meatpacking District and Gansevoort Peninsula, Rodriguez said. The New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), TF Cornerstone (TFC), and the Whitney Museum of American Art–all collaborators on this project–hope to replicate this concept across underutilized roadways throughout the neighborhood. Similar implementations in different neighborhoods include the Broadway Vision, which reimagines new ways to incorporate car-free territories to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

The plan to create more open spaces for people first came about when an Area Needs Report that analyzed locations with high rates of conflict between pedestrians and visitors, confusing intersections, poor urban design, and underutilization revealed several underused roadways within the neighborhood. From then on, the Meatpacking BID, in partnership with WXY Architecture + Urban Design and Sam Schwartz Engineering, worked towards expanding upon the recent vehicular and public space improvements along Ninth Avenue and Gansevoort Street to improve mobility across the neighborhood.

“Our business improvement districts have constantly been ahead of the curve in creating beautiful public spaces, and the Meatpacking District BID has been at the forefront of this essential work,” said Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu in a press release.

Per him, “Gansevoort Landing will serve as a major connector for some of our city’s most vibrant public spaces, improving pedestrian safety, access, and flow to the west side of Manhattan and Hudson River Park. This project is a great example of a fruitful collaboration between public and private partners to improve how New Yorkers and visitors experience our public spaces.”

Beyond public interest, the multi-colored plazas also offer upcoming artists a space to showcase their work. “At the Whitney, so much of what we do is dedicated to introducing the work of American artists to as many visitors as possible, even in unconventional ways,” said Rujeko Hockley, Arnhold Associate Curator at the Whitney. For this project, the Whitney Museum of American Art commissioned Shilling–who’s working on a large-scale public artwork project for the first time—to create a 120-foot vibrant and surreal mural titled “Buggy Bear Goes on a Cool Cruise” on the plaza pavement. The colorful mural depicts Buggy Bear, a playful character imagined by the artist, under sunny blue skies and the road ahead littered with flowers.

”Alake’s mural is a wonderful opportunity for the Whitney to extend its artistic presence beyond the walls of the Museum and engage with our community,” said Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director at the Whitney. “Being part of such a vibrant,artist-centric neighborhood is essential to the Whitney experience. We are excited that this mural and pedestrian crossing will contribute to the further cultural evolution of the Meatpacking District.”

Jake Elghanayan, a local resident and the Senior Vice President at TFC, also shared his excitement for the new opening, stating he was eager to see “this long-overlooked portion of roadway repurposed to coincide with the opening of the Gansevoort Peninsula.” He added that the plaza was a good example of “how the City can move quickly when the right stakeholders work together.”

Urban planning firm Street Plans installed the mural, which is part of a series of public art installations organized by the Whitney, the NYC DOT, and supported by TF Cornerstone, a New York City real estate development behind the building that fronts the public space.

“The Meatpacking District has long defined trends in New York City,” LeFrancois added. “We hope that this project and multi-partner collaboration demonstrates what’s possible and in store for the future of pedestrian and community-oriented urban planning across the city.”