A bold vision for Governors Island
In September 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Trust for Governors Island announced plans to develop a Center for Climate Solutions as part of the Mayor’s Recovery Agenda. The Center would bring together a cross-disciplinary community of researchers, educators, advocates, innovators and policymakers to create, test and implement the solutions our urban environments need today and in the decades to come. With its millions of visitors and unique waterfront and ecological resources, Governors Island can serve as an inspiring example of sustainable and resilient urban development and an unparalleled destination for broad public participation and engagement.
Climate solutions, arts and culture, and open space and recreation form the three key pillars of Governors Island’s growth strategy going forward, which will together advance the mission of the Island to be an extraordinary public place, support expanded, year-round public access, and create a path towards financial self-sufficiency.
This strategy and vision emerged from nearly 20 years of planning, advocacy and engagement and directly address six key criteria for Island growth:
- Make Governors Island a dynamic and accessible public place year-round, with the same vibrancy in the winter as the summer
- Create a path toward financial sustainability through responsible partnerships with like-minded organizations and institutions
- Celebrate and utilize Governors Island’s unique environment and waterfront location as a public living laboratory
- Promote a diversity of uses that complement and enhance Governors Island’s unique character
- Expand opportunities for public participation and engagement
- Maintain access and affordability for all New Yorkers
What would a climate center on Governors Island look like?
A climate center will attract a mix of uses focused on developing, testing, scaling and advocating for the solutions that communities and cities need as the world navigates the impacts of climate change, while providing a platform for public engagement. A center for climate solutions on Governors Island is projected to create 8,000 direct new jobs and $1B in economic impact for New York City, both on Governors Island alone.
A climate center could include:
- An anchor academic or research anchor institution to study the effects of climate change, advance related fields and bring science, policy, communications and solution development under one roof
- A living laboratory and/or cultural uses that showcase solutions and invite conversations on the environment through public art and programming
- Commercial innovation for technological research in the climate field
- Dormitories/Faculty Housing to support an academic anchor institution and create a uniquely immersive community for learning and innovation
- Convening space that offers opportunities for New Yorkers and visitors to engage in conversations about climate change
- Opportunities to engage leading health institutions to research and develop practical solutions for addressing climate change’s impact on public health due to extreme heat, air quality, and storms
At the same time, the Trust will continue to attract uses and users that support public access and engagement, including arts and culture, education, amenity, recreation, hospitality and food and beverage.
Center for Climate Solutions Illustrative Vision
All images to be credited to:
Urban Design Concepts by WXY architecture + urban design
Illustrative Visualization by bloomimages
How will this vision be realized?
Over the next several months, the Trust and the Mayor’s Office will work collaboratively to bring this vision to life by:
- Engaging stakeholders, local elected officials, agencies, advocates, environmental justice organizations and New Yorkers to build out the vision of creating a global center for climate solutions
- Unlocking up to 4.2M SF of new academic, commercial, cultural and hospitality uses through a rezoning of development sites on the South Island to support this vision. For more information regarding the proposed South Island rezoning, please click here
- Initiating targeted RFPs within the Governors Island Historic District for cultural, amenity, educational and commercial space to support year-round access, and
- Issuing a solicitation (RFP or RFEI) for an academic or institutional anchor institution focused on climate adaptation in 2021
- While pursuing this longer-term planning and vision, the Trust will begin to grow its community of tenants working in climate by releasing an RFP to transform a historic building on Governors Island into a multi-tenant hub for green businesses, entrepreneurs and environmental non-profits.