New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion by UNStudio



Amsterdam architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio has designed a pavilion for The Battery park in New York City, USA.


The pavilion will provide seating and shade and can be used for organised public events.


At night, an electronic LED system will display a continuously-changing light show.


Below is the press release from UNStudio:

About the Plein & Pavilion

UNStudio’s initial conceptual design for New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion calls for a 5,000 square-foot, carefully programmed space located within The Battery’s Peter Minuit Plaza, named for the enterprising Dutch Director-General who in 1626 consolidated the early settlements at the tip of Manhattan – a grouping that came to be known as New Amsterdam. This destination is, in the words of architect Ben van Berkel, “the ideal site for a permanent commemoration of 400 years of Dutch history in New York, because it is steeped in a sense of a shared past and looks directly toward the harbour where Henry Hudson sailed, but is also entirely focused on the future by virtue of its role as a modern transportation hub within the constantly changing scene of Lower Manhattan. This is a site where history meets the future.”


To express the interplay of history and future, the landscape architects of New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Manhattan Capital Projects have conceived a stone-paved civic platform – plein, in Dutch – with walkways featuring engraved quotations from Russell Shorto’s acclaimed book ‘The Island at the Center of the World’. A carved stone map of Castello’s New Amsterdam will grace the entrance to the Plein to provide historical context.


Within the open space of the Plein, visitors will find UNStudio-designed seating and tables. These will surround a highly sculptural pavilion with an expressive, undulating roofline and curving walls – a compact little building with the authority of a major landmark, evoking a flower opening to its surroundings. The pavilion will be equipped with an electronic facade LED system that allows for a constantly changing light show at night, “an experience that will carry the animation and drama of the day into the evening,” according to van Berkel.


Van Berkel’s pavilion will offer, according to Warrie Price of The Battery Conservancy, “a superb culinary experience, great visitor orientation information and materials, and an iconic, recognizable spot for residents and visitors to rendezvous.”

New Amsterdam Plein will also feature berms and perennial garden planting beds, designed by New York City Parks & Recreation using the color palette of Piet Oudolf, who created The Battery Bosque Gardens and the Battery’s Gardens of Remembrance.


Celebrated Dutch Architect Ben van Berkel to Design New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion in New York City - Dramatic Public Hub at The Battery to Greet Millions and Pay Tribute to the Enduring Relationship Between the Netherlands and New York.

At a press conference with Dutch officials held to announce plans for the joint Dutch-American 2009 celebration of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s arrival in New York Harbour, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg confirmed that Peter Minuit Plaza at The Battery will become the site of a major new public destination: New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion will be a dramatic space where more than 5 million people a year, including 70,000 daily commuters and 2 million annual tourists, can find an extraordinary “outdoor living room” for spontaneous and scheduled activities, public markets, seating and shade, and an iconic state-of-the-art pavilion for food and information, all designed by internationally celebrated Dutch architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio, Amsterdam. The Plein & Pavilion will be unique among the city’s many public spaces – a landscaped intermodal transportation hub of the 21st century, where bicycles, buses, the subway and water transportation intersect with cultural offerings in a singular expression of daring but lyrical design.

New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion is made possible by a major grant from the government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to The Battery Conservancy, as part of the NY400 celebration and in honour of the enduring relationship between New York and Holland. Handel Architects LLP, New York, will serve as associate architect, working in collaboration with UNStudio.

“It is our hope that New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion will become a permanent Dutch legacy in New York City and a nod to the future as well as our shared history,” commented Gajus Schltema, Consul General of the Netherlands in New York. “It marks the celebration of 400 years of friendship between our nation and this great American metropolis, with which we share a passion for the values of innovation and creativity, diversity and openness, entrepreneurship and progress.”

“This 400th anniversary is an opportunity for us to join with our partners in the Netherlands to celebrate our city’s heritage,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “New Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion at The Battery will enliven our celebration and focus attention on the place where the Dutch settled. I would like to thank the Kingdom of the Netherlands, The Battery Conservancy, Handel Architects and designer Ben Van Berkel and UNStudio for bringing this dynamic cultural attraction to Lower Manhattan.”

Warrie Price, President of The Battery Conservancy, said, “The Netherlands is a country that continues to regenerate itself through the professional strength of its innovative and talented designers, and through the force and beauty of the natural world. The Battery, the birthplace of New York City, began its revitalization with the work of famed Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, who created with us the largest perennial gardens in North America, free and open to the public. With New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion, we are delighted to continue our mission of design excellence, and honoured to bring to New Yorkers and guests from around the world the joy of nature, the pleasure in community and the value of great modern architecture.”

About the Architect
Founded in 1988 by Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, UNStudio is an internationally admired, global architecture, design and urban planning firm based in Amsterdam, comprised of a forward-thinking network of architects, planners, development experts, industrial designers, engineers, art historians, philosophers, writers and researchers. According to a critic of The New York Times, UNStudio “has so far come closest to fulfilling the dream of a truly elastic world, one in which the boundaries between work and play, private and public life have all but melted away.”

UNStudio’s unique, collaborative, interdisciplinary approach has yielded acclaimed museums and cultural centres, private houses, residential complexes and commercial buildings across Europe and Asia, as well as master plans for urban redevelopments in Spain, the Netherlands and Italy. The firm’s diversity is evident not only in such landmark buildings as The Möbius House outside Amsterdam (1998), the Mercedes- Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany (2006), and the Theater Agora in Lelystad, Netherlands (2007), but in such disparate projects as sculptural bridges in Rotterdam and Dresden; the revitalization of the harbor front in Genoa; an 18-story flagship in Tokyo for Louis Vuitton; a spa hotel in the Swiss Alps; and revolutionary sculptural kitchen fixtures and appliances for B&B Italia and Alessi.

The work of UNStudio has been prominently featured in exhibitions around the world, including the landmark “Un-Private House” survey at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and in publications in dozens of languages.

About The Battery and The Battery Conservancy

The Battery is a 25-acre waterfront park and the cradle of New York City history. Located at the tip of Manhattan overlooking New York Harbour, The Battery hosted Dutch settlers when they arrived at Manhattan Island in 1626 and established New Amsterdam. Today with the leadership of The Battery Conservancy, a non-profit organization established in 1994 to partner with government to design and rebuild these historic acres, the park is the largest and most dynamic public place in Lower Manhattan. It is the front lawn of Downtown and a hub of harbour access and cultural tourism. Over five million people, including residents, office workers, school groups, and tourists from around the world, visit the park and its major landmark, Castle Clinton National Monument, every year.

The Battery Conservancy, with its partners at the city, state and federal levels, has raised over $101M to revitalize the park. Expansive lawns, overarching shade trees, vast perennial gardens, waterfront promenades with sweeping views and cultural programs will soon be complemented by The Battery Bikeway connecting the East and West Sides of Manhattan; the much-anticipated SeaGlass ride; and a remarkable new Battery Playspace, designed by Frank Gehry.

Many cultural institutions are within walking distance of The Battery. Attractions include the South Street Seaport, the New York Stock Exchange, the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Staten Island Ferry, and the soon–to–be–restored Pier A. They all radiate from the Battery, which has historically been called the "emerald doorstep of the metropolis".

The Battery will become a hub of waterborne transportation for New York Harbour. Castle Clinton presently serves as a busy ticketing centre for three million passengers who annually board ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Connections between New York State Heritage Area sites, the National Parks of New York Harbour, and New Jersey’s Liberty State Park, are also in the planning stages.

Posted on Thursday January 29th 2009 at 2:42 pm by Rachael Sykes. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Mookie

    Cool, but the renderings leave out the mouth-breathing troglodytes getting off the Staten Island ferry and spitting on it during rush hour.

  • David Klemmer

    Nice pavilion. Reminds me of the concept UNStudio showed at last years Biennale.

  • OLGV.

    …obvious it’s a subjective opinion, but I love it :D

  • Anonymous


  • amsam

    Ooh, very Zaha. About time NYC got some of these lines.

  • R

    This kind of buildings leave me completely cold….
    I cannot even slightly understand what could be interesting about it.

  • amsam

    Okay, R, I’ll try to help you slightly understand what could be interesting. How about: it’s a building, but it looks like a flower. Interesting!

  • A.R

    what happens when the cars are around for parking? is there any idea for that too?
    Intresting inside any way..

  • silicon m

    Ben Van Berkle, UN Studio, never fail to impress
    and this is a fine example of the consistant design
    philosophy and tectonic dialogue we have become so
    familiar with. Their are glimpses of past projects
    reflecting their strong sense of volumetric certainty
    and a confident manipulation of materials displayed
    in the 1990-1992 Karbou building and 1993-1995
    Mobius house projects, both in Holland.
    A brilliant but yet subtle chiselling of
    architectural form creating a Stendhalian type of
    pursuit in which beauty promises to lead us to happyness.
    The UN Studio’ architectural language seems to engage
    us in utterances which extol happiness.

  • William Smith

    I like the composition though i do have a tough time with how it relates to its site. Why not create viewing axis from the entrances into the pavilion? The materials interest me i must say.

  • Michael

    I agree with William Smith. In addition, I think the design is very “dated” in a 60’s kind of way. Why not put up a marble pavilion in the Dutch Baroque style? That would be best suited to the purpose and site. Enough with minimalist curvy Ghery-esque pastiches.

    Why is “design” equated with white curves erected with little effort, or indeed, thought?