Big Shelf : “Park” Avenue in N.Y.C

One of New York City’s most prominent and iconic boulevards, Park Avenue is a well-known urban corridor that facilitates North- and South-bound transit into Manhattan. Its medians have been a fixture on this major boulevard for more than a century, yet they are largely underwhelming as public realm space. Currently the avenue is defined by the shadows of tall office buildings and the pulse of vehicular traffic, providing a strong need for more public space and areas of greenery.

Big Shelf focuses on revitalizing Park Avenue’s medians by creating an elevated hybrid green infrastructure and eco-friendly gardens in these public spaces, introducing a new social and economic vibrancy to the neighborhood. Big Shelf appears on every median along Park Avenue between 46th and 57th streets. By using structures inspired by scaffolding, the design elevates usable areas along the medians and connects segregated medians through underground paths. It serves as new infrastructure for traveling between two landmarks: Grand Central Terminal and Central Park. The ideas that influence the design’s spatial qualities are elements already found throughout the city by utilizing scaffolding structures and tree pots.

The project proposes a series of multi-story elevated platforms above grade to encourage a diversity of views and perspectives of the avenue at different elevations. The form of the elevated platforms offers a potential program of diverse activities including social gathering, observation terraces, an amphitheater, outdoor galleries, sitting/resting areas and bike paths. The spatial characters of each floor are created by the speed of movements, diverse programs and featured tree pot locations. Recycled composite large tree pots act as a featured design element to improve visual imagery within the urban context. In addition, various types of potted plants will contribute to Vision 2020 by absorbing noxious vehicular gases, namely carbon dioxide and methane.

The Big Shelf emerges as a dialectical exploration of connecting the segregated green space medians and expanding recreational and multi-functional areas without changing any existing vehicular circulation conditions. The Big Shelf revamps the Park Avenue medians to offer a new typology of urban landscape to the public that rises above conventional public realm treatments.

Shortlisted in the Concept – Design category of the 2020 WLA Awards

Big Shelf”, Park Avenue in New York City

Designers / Image Credits : Chanon Wangkachonkait and Jaehong Chung

About Damian Holmes 3271 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at