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Digital Rendering of Manhattan forest


The Manhattan Forest project site, the Grace Plaza, is located in the southeast corner of 6th avenue and 43rd street in Manhattan, New York, one block north of the highly favored Bryan Park where, in contrast, illegal drug dealing was spotted in the ‘80s. The project is the landscape architect’s proposal of what could be a vernacular open space design and medium for an extremely urbanized, non-natural, highly engineered environment such as limited natural soil, limited sunlight, and limited moisture content. 

The significance of Manhattan Forest proposal is neither a typical urban plaza nor a park. It reveals and adapts to the conditions of the existing setting to introduce new typologies of open space. First, the romance of nature, often created through pastoral greening by plantings, in an urban landscape project was questioned. Second, the traditional design techniques that use problem-solving, performance-based, or overall phenomenon-driven design was examined. Lastly, the authenticity of the landscape medium in areas like Manhattan was explored. 

Manhattan Forest intends to provide the complete refuge we seek. Existing mechanical, plumbing, and structural system size, location, and design were observed to find the underlying common denominator. The mathematical dimension of a 10’ grid was identified in existing infrastructure to create an algorithm to design a non-repeating “Forest” pattern. Designing algorithm let us to place authentic yet highly customized stainless-steel grating products for surfaces, customized diamond pattern sheet metal for seating, and typical streetlight poles with integrated seating on the designed grid. Wind and shade-tolerant bamboos and different-colored azaleas were located on an identical grid. Pedestrian circulation overlapped with the grid system and raised grating planters to create multiple paths and spaces. None of the design features were hierarchical, yet they were densely placed on orthogonal grid with different spacing. While one may enjoy a bamboo grove with azaleas, others may be feeling surrounded by 30’ tall stainless-steel light poles and the shiny artistic pattern of stainless-steel gratings. At the moment when one starts to question, “What is this place?” Manhattan Forest delivers the vision of a complete refuge that is authentic to the Grace Plaza. It answers the speculation of the project.

This theoretical project reflects the daily life of a New Yorker. The thought experiment, robust in its complexity of urban engagement, reflects a design firm’s responsibility to modern society.


Project Type:

New York, NY


Model with pins of where the trees would be in Manhattan forest
3D design rendering that shows the levels of Manhattan forest
Birds eye view rendering of passerbys passing Manhattan forest
Current photo of location of Manhattan forest with sketches
Digital sketch of the concept behind Manhattan forest
Digital receipt of Manhattan forest
a 3D real life model with wood sticks in place of trees for Manhattan forest
Pinpricks used to mark the location of trees in Manhattan forest
Birds eye view of the 3D real life model of Manhattan forest
Current photo of Manhattan forest location
Digital rendering of people enjoying Manhattan forest

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