Celebrated Dutch Architect Ben van Berkel to Design New Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion in NY

Celebrated Dutch Architect Ben van Berkel to Design New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion in NY

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg confirmed that Peter Minuit Plaza at The Battery will become the site of a major new public destination: New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion will be a dramatic space where more than 5 million people a year, including 70,000 daily commuters and 2 million annual tourists, can find an extraordinary "outdoor living room" for spontaneous and scheduled activities, public markets, seating and shade, and an iconic state-of-the-art pavilion for food and information, all designed by internationally celebrated Dutch architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio, Amsterdam. The Plein & Pavilion will be unique among the city's many public spaces - a landscaped intermodal transportation hub of the 21st century, where bicycles, buses, the subway and water transportation intersect with cultural offerings in a singular expression of daring but lyrical design.

New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion is made possible by a major grant from the government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to The Battery Conservancy, as part of the NY400 celebration and in honor of the enduring relationship between New York and Holland. Handel Architects LLP, New York, will serve as associate architect, working in collaboration with UNStudio.

"It is our hope that New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion will become a permanent Dutch legacy in New York City and a nod to the future as well as our shared history," commented Gajus Schltema, Consul General of the Netherlands in New York. "It marks the celebration of 400 years of friendship between our nation and this great American metropolis, with which we share a passion for the values of innovation and creativity, diversity and openness, entrepreneurship and progress."

"This 400th anniversary is an opportunity for us to join with our partners in the Netherlands to celebrate our city's heritage," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "New Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion at The Battery will enliven our celebration and focus attention on the place where the Dutch settled. I would like to thank the Kingdom of the Netherlands, The Battery Conservancy, Handel Architects and designer Ben Van Berkel and UNStudio for bringing this dynamic cultural attraction to Lower Manhattan."

The Plein and Pavilion 02
The Plein and Pavilion 03

Warrie Price, President of The Battery Conservancy, said, "The Netherlands is a country that continues to regenerate itself through the professional strength of its innovative and talented designers, and through the force and beauty of the natural world. The Battery, the birthplace of New York City, began its revitalization with the work of famed Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, who created with us the largest perennial gardens in North America, free and open to the public. With New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion, we are delighted to continue our mission of design excellence, and honored to bring to New Yorkers and guests from around the world the joy of nature, the pleasure in community and the value of great modern architecture."

The Plein & Pavilion
UNStudio's initial conceptual design for New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion calls for a 5,000 square-foot, carefully programmed space located within The Battery's Peter Minuit Plaza, named for the enterprising Dutch Director-General who in 1626 consolidated the early settlements at the tip of Manhattan - a grouping that came to be known as New Amsterdam. This destination is, in the words of architect Ben van Berkel, "the ideal site for a permanent commemoration of 400 years of Dutch history in New York, because it is steeped in a sense of a shared past and looks directly toward the harbor where Henry Hudson sailed, but is also entirely focused on the future by virtue of its role as a modern transportation hub within the constantly changing scene of Lower Manhattan. This is a site where history meets the future."

To express the interplay of history and future, the landscape architects of New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Manhattan Capital Projects have conceived a stone-paved civic platform - plein, in Dutch - with walkways featuring engraved quotations from Russell Shorto's acclaimed book The Island at the Center of the World. A carved stone map of Castello's New Amsterdam will grace the entrance to the Plein to provide historical context. Within the open space of the Plein, visitors will find UNStudio-designed seating and tables. These will surround a highly sculptural pavilion with an expressive, undulating roofline and curving walls - a compact little building with the authority of a major landmark, evoking a flower opening to its surroundings. The pavilion will be equipped with an electronic facade LED system that allows for a constantly changing light show at night, "an experience that will carry the animation and drama of the day into the evening," according to van Berkel.

Van Berkel's pavilion will offer, according to Warrie Price of The Battery Conservancy, "a superb culinary experience, great visitor orientation information and materials, and an iconic, recognizable spot for residents and visitors to rendezvous."

New Amsterdam Plein will also feature berms and perennial garden planting beds, designed by New York City Parks & Recreation using the color palette of Piet Oudolf, who created The Battery Bosque Gardens and the Battery's Gardens of Remembrance.


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