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High Performance Landscape Guidelines

21st Century Parks for NYC

Parks are crucial to the future quality of life in New York City, and play a leading role in preparing New York City for the next million people, the goal of New York’s PlaNYC initiative. That’s why the Fellows of the Design Trust for Public Space, the landscape architects and specialists of the Parks Department as well as the experienced professionals of Parks’ operations division worked together to prepare this manual: “High Performance Landscape Guidelines: 21st Century Parks for NYC”.

This manual is a comprehensive manual for the design and construction of sustainable parks and open space. The “Guidelines” will change the way all of New York City’s parks are designed, built, and maintained, improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers while reducing the city’s impact on the earth.

The “Guidelines” will ensure that NYC’s parks clean our air and absorb storm water, reduce the urban heat island effect, provide habitat, and address the challenges of climate change. This manual contains hundreds of best practices including:

  • Keeping rain water within parks for the use of plantings rather than sending it to sewers.
  • Increasing the resiliency of plantings by considering the soil, the effects of climate change, the plant type and future maintenance needs.
  • Designing to save labor, reduce operating expenses and decrease the frequency of capital replacement.

Parks are a crucial component of the urban infrastructure that will help our city address the challenges of the twenty-first century… With ‘High Performance Landscape Guidelines’, we’ve created a new blueprint for how parks are designed, built, and maintained.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, from the Mayoral Foreword to “High Performance Landscape Guidelines”

All of these changes and many more will come to life in all five boroughs, making New York City a greener and greater place for all of us.

Producing the “Guidelines” was an effort that required the skills and knowledge of many professionals.

  • Charles McKinney, Principal Urban Designer, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
  • Debora Marton, Executive Director of the Design Trust for Public Space
  • Design Trust Fellows

    • Michele Adams, Meloria Environmental Design
    • Steven Caputo, NYC Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability
    • Jeannette Compton, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
    • Tavis Dockwiller, Viridian Landscape Studio
    • Andrew Lavallee, AECOM Design + Planning

“21st Century parks will not only be beautiful places, they will be healthy ecologies. [The ‘Guidelines’] will connect the many people who design, build, and take care of the city’s open spaces so that each project is resilient and thriving.”

NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, from the Preface to “High Performance Landscape Guidelines”

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