Rugged Beauty

This is Teardrop Park, where Lily has known many happy hours in the last few years. It is an extraordinary park, with the rugged beauty of the Catskills, squeezed in between four unpromising apartment towers in Battery Park City. Into this urban context, Michael Van Valkenberg set out to design  on landfill – ie a site that "never had nature because it's... composed of fill from the original excavation of the World Trade Center" – a park that takes its cues from the landscape of the Hudson River Valley, injecting a heavy dose of robust naturalism into the site. To accomplish this feat, over 1,900 tons of bluestone, granite and limestone from upstate were used. Over 80 percent of the plants are native to New York State, ensuring a year-round attraction to birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Winding paths, rolling hills and steep slopes create a beautiful topography, full of opportunities for discoveries. The pi├Ęce-de-resistance in this design gem is the Ice Wall, which Van Valkenberg created in conjunction with the artist Ann Hamilton. It is a 27-foot long bluestone wall whose jagged rock face evokes a mountainside. In the summer, water seeps through the rocks, and in winter, icicles hang from them. My favorite parts are the nooks and crannies in the marsh and hills for the children and adults alike to explore. Despite the apartment buildings towering above, it's not hard to get lost among the plantings and feel as though you're in a Catskill glen.

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