Governors Island The Hills

New York, US

The Hills are the culminating feature of West 8’s award-winning Governors Island Park and Public Space Master Plan, and Phase 1 of the Park and Public Space project. A new beacon in the harbor, the Hills provide visitors with the feeling of being immersed in a green oasis, culminating at the top of Outlook Hill with an extraordinary 360-degree panoramic experience of the New York Harbor.

Drawing from the precedent of Frederick Law Olmsted’s creation of manmade topography in Central Park, the ten newly designed acres of park pay homage to the lush, hilly landscapes of pre-colonial Manhattan, and fortify the Island’s resiliency in the face of rising sea levels.

West 8 understood from the outset that the new Park and Public Spaces on Governors Island would need to be resilient in the face of rising waters. In order to build a park that is sustainable across the next century, West 8 had to plan for the continuing long-term increase in mean sea level and for the more frequent and violent storms that that are expected to accompany climate change along the Eastern seaboard. Rather than withdrawing in the face of the advancing waters, majority of the Island has been lifted out of the flood zone. Transforming the Island through topography.

Rising 25 to 70 feet above the Island, The four Hills embody all that makes Governors Island unique: art, play, nature, relaxation, and views:
• Grassy Hill is a 26-foot (8m) high gentle, grassy slope overlooking the Island’s new and historic landscapes and the Manhattan skyline;
• Slide Hill, at 36 feet (11m) high, is the home of four slides, including the longest slide in New York City;
• Discovery Hill, 39 feet (12m) high, features a site-specific sculpture Cabin by the internationally recognized British artist Rachel Whiteread and first major permanent public commission in the U.S.; and,
• Outlook Hill provides universally accessible paths and the Scramble, constructed out of reclaimed granite seawall blocks, to reach the Outlook. Here, 70 feet (21m) above the Island, visitors have unforgettable views of the New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and the skylines of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Jersey City.

Developed from the 2007 international design competition winning entry, and the 2010 Park and Public Spaces Masterplan, The Hills are the latest addition to the park. The first 30 acres opened to the public in 2014.

Now that the Hills are open to the public, visitors are now able to walk or bike around the island’s entire 2.2-mile promenade and enjoy the popular Picnic Point. The southern portions of the promenade and Picnic Point had been closed since 2012.

See also: Governors Island Park and Public Space Master Plan and Governors Island Phase 1 Park and Public Space

More information about Governors Island:


The Trust for Governors Island


Associate Landscape Architect: Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects Lead Civil Engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates Local Civil Engineer: AKRF Geotechnical Engineer: Hart Crowser Inc.Signage and Wayfinding: Pentagram Lighting: Tillotson Design Associates MEP Engineer: Dagher Associates Soils Consultant: Pine and Swallow Environmental Irrigation Consultants: Northern Designs Code Consultants: Code Consulting Inc. Cost Estimator: Faithful & Gould Operations and Maintenance: ETM Associates Surveyors of Record: Langan


Great Places in America, American Planning Association (2019),

Honorable Mention for Public Landscape AN Best of Design Awards (2016), Gold Award, Landscape Design, New York Design Awards (2016), Architectural Precast Association Award of Excellence (2016), Built by Women New York City Award, Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (2014), Center for Architecture Foundation Award, The American Institute of Architects, New York (2011), Open House New York Award, Open House New York (2011), Special Recognition Award, Municipal Art Society of New York (2010), Special Citation, The American Institute of Architects, New York (2009), Green Around Downtown Award, Alliance for Downtown New York (2008)