A Facelift for Astor Place


At the busy intersections of 4th and 9th streets in New York City sits Astor Place — now a pedestrian-friendly space with plantings and storm-ready landscaping.

Thousands of square feet of former roadbed were put to use for pedestrians in the $16 million design project unveiled in November. The renovated plazas and walkways, planned by lead architect WXY architecture + urban design, also included restoring the Alamo, a rotating black cube, as well as mosaic installations on light poles and a statue of the square’s namesake, Peter Cooper.

The design, which expanded the pedestrian space by 50,000 square feet, added new plazas, new seating, and 9,900 perennial plants and shrubs, 60 additional trees and more than 100 bike racks, according to Claire Weisz, FAIA, founding principal of WXY.

The design adds about 6,600 square feet of absorbent permeable paving and new bioswales, which are sloped drainage courses lined with plantings, to handle rain and stormwater.

On Real Estate Weekly’s website, Weisz said, “Diagonal streets and the history of the 2nd Avenue El set up unusual urban challenges,” referring to the elevated railway in Manhattan that was dismantled in 1942.

“By upgrading New York City’s below-grade systems, we didn’t have to put off solving these issues any longer,” she added. “This resulting plaza is a showcase of pedestrian-friendly city amenities as well as cutting-edge green infrastructure, which helps protect against flooding while improving the environment and public health.”

The design team also included landscape designer Piet Oudolf, landscape architects Quennell Rothschild & Partners and Tillett Lighting Design Associates.

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