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NYC’s New Battery Playscape Combines Education with Climate-Resilient Design

A global exemplar for playgrounds located in flood-zone communities, Playscape features five distinct ecology zones, each fostering cultural and environmental awareness through sustainable, biodiverse and water-conscious design.

The Battery Conservancy and NYC Parks have opened the highly anticipated, 1.5-acre Battery Playscape — offering an extraordinary array of play choices for children of all ages and abilities. Battery Playscape was imagined post-Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and serves as a global exemplar for playgrounds located in flood zone areas.

The park features five ecological zones, each inspired by topography created by water shaping the land:

  • Bluff has five granite slides;

  • Riverbed and Marsh feature salt-tolerant gardens, elevated tree houses, and sand/water play;

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    Meadow features a biodiverse array of conifers, native shrubs, grasses and blooming perennials; and

  • Dune features an undulating climbing structure and ShowBox — the first improv/puppet theater in a New York City playground.

Warrie Price, president and founder of The Battery Conservancy, says the Playscape was designed to "immerse children into the natural wonders formed by plants, trees, sand, and ancient stone while building an understanding of accommodating climate."

The Battery Conservancy initiated Playscape's design post-Sandy, when The Battery survived the full force of the 15-foot storm surge. Accounting for sea-level rise became a focal point of the design process, and Playscape succeeds in transforming climate challenges into creative play and learning opportunities.

Designed by BKSK Architects and Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners with custom fabrication by Maglin, the new Playscape triples the size of the former Battery playground. The current space accounts for the growing number of Lower Manhattan families, expanding elementary schools and increase in visitation by children from all five boroughs — as well as visitors to New York City.

"The Playscape will serve as a model for imaginative play and resilient design for years to come. From water-absorbent bioswales to a gorgeous puppet theater, this playground is truly different from any other in New York City," said NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff. "As the final piece of The Battery Master Plan, this 1.5-acre playground completes the decades-long process of revitalizing this historic site. We thank the Conservancy for their leadership in reimagining this playground and establishing The Battery as a thriving waterfront park and a destination for New Yorkers and tourists from around the world."

Playscape — which earned a 2020 Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects New York Chapter — marks the final major construction milestone in the 25+ year history of The Battery Conservancy's work to revitalize The Battery, New York City's oldest continually used public space. The $18.3 million project was funded through grants and donations from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the MTA, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Member Margaret Chin, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

Through partnerships with NYC Parks, New York State, the National Park Service, and private individuals and corporations, the Battery Conservancy has raised more than $170 million. Today, The Conservancy — driven by its commitment to environmental stewardship, historical authenticity, design excellence, innovative education, and openness to all — spearheads the revitalization of the city's birthplace park. The Battery's breathtaking harbor views, expansive gardens, bike paths, grand lawns, and family attractions make it one of New York City's premier cultural destinations.

The Battery Playscape will be open year-round from 8 am to dusk and is free to all members of the public supervising and/or accompanying children. Located at the northeast corner of The Battery, adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry Building and SeaGlass Carousel, the Playscape is accessible from State Street and South Street. Nearest public transportation options include the 4/5, 1 and R/W subway lines, bus routes and new bike routes.