Working through the Center for Resilient Landscapes with Dr. Frank Gallagher, former superintendent of Liberty State Park, a number of our students have been able to work on applied projects in one of New Jersey’s most visited urban parks. One example is the work of Nichole Cohen (MLA ’19) whose thesis explored an ecologically revelatory design approach meant to transform visitor experiences to a post-industrial section of the park.
Traversing Urban “Wildlands”: An Intervention within the Unique Plant Communities of Liberty State Park
This project considers the urban “wildland” as an opportunity to provide residents in cities with access to self-organizing nature. The 250-acre interior portion of Liberty State Park in Jersey City is a spontaneously vegetated site where the railyard for the Central Railroad of New Jersey was once located. This thesis explores what non-traditional design strategies can be implemented on a post-industrial site that has been colonized by unique plant communities. Research on fourth-nature, post-industrial landscapes, and urban ecology reveals the complexities involved with urban landscapes. Such landscapes are highly disturbed by humans and are often contaminated.
A design is proposed that considers the current conditions of the site as well as how the site has transformed over time. The design consists of an educational trail that allows users to enter and experience the site and provides opportunities for people to learn about urban ecology and interact with urban nature. Several destinations exist along the trail where users can learn about the landscape. Overall, the project explores the various possibilities that can be realized within unique plant communities.