Press Releases

Thursday, January 06, 2011
No. 2

A New Year Launches A New Era In Great Park Design



Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe is today joining Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability David Bragdon and Executive Director of the Design Trust for Public Space Deborah Marton to announce the launch of High Performance Landscape Guidelines: 21st Century Parks for NYC at a reception at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place in Greenwich Village, at 6:00 p.m. The guidelines can be viewed at

High Performance Landscape Guidelines is the first document of its kind in the nation: a comprehensive, municipal design primer for sustainable parks and open space. The product of a unique partnership between the Parks Department and the Design Trust, a nonprofit organization that helped create sustainable guidelines for NYC buildings, High Performance Landscape Guidelines covers every aspect of creating sustainable parks, from design to construction to maintenance, and feature many best practices for managing soil, water, and vegetation resources.

“21st Century parks must not only be beautiful places, they must be healthy ecosystems,” said Commissioner Benepe. “The parks we are creating now will connect the many people who design, build, and take care of New York City’s open spaces so that every park is attractive and sustainable. I am grateful to the Design Trust for Public Space, and the peer landscape architects, for collaborating with Parks and our landscape architects to produce a manual that will accomplish the goals of PlaNYC, reduce our impact on the environment, and meet the increasing and increasingly diverse recreational needs of New Yorkers. From planting green roofs to implementing innovative stormwater run-off strategies, sustainable practices will help us design for a higher level of use, and a higher level of environmental responsibility.”

Often thought of as the ultimate urban environment, New York City is actually the greenest city in the country, with over 29,000 acres of parkland managed by the Parks Department. Adopting the highest level of sustainable practices could results in huge improvements on New York’s air, water, and soil, and in the way New Yorkers enjoy the city’s parks and open spaces.

“High performance landscapes are parks and open spaces that help store and clean stormwater, clean and cool the air, provide habitat for wildlife, and give New Yorkers beautiful public spaces—they function as a kind of green infrastructure,” said Deborah Marton. “Once implemented citywide, high performance landscapes will have a huge impact on our environmental health and quality of life.”

The guidelines make available state-of-the-art park design practices, and create a base of common knowledge for the Parks Department’s staff as well as private consultants, contractors, and community groups. The manual includes detailed descriptions and illustrations of design practices that will improve the performance of the landscape, their resilience, their responsiveness to context, and their ability to delight for generations to come.

High Performance Landscape Guidelines builds on the Design Trust's groundbreaking work in sustainable design and construction, and is the third in a trilogy of sustainable design manuals. The Design Trust's previous publications, High Performance Building Guidelines (1999) and High Performance Infrastructure Guidelines (2005) set the stage for a paradigm shift in the way New York City is constructed. These two publications led directly to the enactment of local laws that encourage high performance construction, and also paved the way for Mayor Bloomberg's recent sustainability initiatives.

In composing the guidelines, Parks landscape architects and operations specialists collaborated with Design Trust Project Fellows: Michele Adams, Meliora 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; and Andrew Lavallee, AECOM Design + Planning.

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