Freedom Plaza: East River is transformed by BIG

The Copenhagen-based firm unveiled the project, which will remodel 4.1 million square meters of floor space in New York, with a mixed program ranging from affordable housing to a casino.

Bjarke Ingels Group has unveiled plans for the future Freedom Plaza, a 4.1-million-square-foot development intended to transform Manhattan’s East River waterfront. This ambitious project includes landscaped public spaces, a museum, hotels, affordable housing and even a casino on a long-abandoned site adjacent to the United Nations building along the river.

The park is bordered by two pairs of adjoined towers, linked at the base or top, each one framing a corner plaza: one facing the metropolis and one facing the East River. The long-awaited Museum of Freedom and Democracy will take place in the center of the lot. Its sculptural form, resembling a continuous loop, will integrate outdoor pedestrian pathways into its design and will overlook a central amphitheater, drawing inspiration from ancient Greek theaters and paying homage to the long legacy of democracy.

Bjarke Ingels Group, Freedom Plaza, Manhattan, New York. Courtesy BIG

“We are incredibly honored and thrilled to be part of the team that can envision a new major public space in this great city, to contribute to the iconic skyline of Manhattan’s riverfront, and to imagine the architecture of the museum celebrating one of mankind's greatest inventions: Democracy,” stated studio founder Bjarke Ingels presenting the project.

The two towers dedicated to hotel functions are connected by a cantilevered skybridge on the corner of East 41st Street and 1st Avenue. Within this skybridge will be the amenities of the Banyan Tree Hotel, including a spa and wellness center, restaurants and bars, and a casino.

Buildings are then placed on the perimeter of the site to maximize the area available for the park designed by OJB Landscape Architecture, which include a children’s play area, dog run, and event lawn. The landscape was designed to accommodate native botanical cover and climate-appropriate species, with gardens providing food and habitat for pollinators throughout the year.

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