First Avenue Water Plaza

New York, NY
  • Plaza
  • Resilience / Climate Adaptation
  • Ecological Design
  • Rooftop
  • The Architect's Newspaper Best of Design Awards: Honorable Mention, Landscape – Public (2019)
  • ASLA-NY: Honor Award – General Design (2019)

Steps from the East River, SCAPE’s First Avenue Water Plaza serves as both an active civic space and a functional water filtration system. The water plaza, located over a parking structure at the American Copper Buildings, is activated by a layered water-collection system that responds to multiple types of inundation.

A scrim fountain centers the design, creating a shimmering plane of water that mitigates the noise of the FDR highway and cools the space. Around the perimeter, a series of rock-lined swales collect storm water runoff from the plaza while creating a sense of vegetated enclosure. In a heavy rain event, the swales are coupled with an underground retention system located between the plaza and the parking structure that captures and holds water before gradually diverting it to the East River.

In the event of a flood, the water-plaza landscape combines with a deployable floodwall to protect the new building from inundation. The site responds directly to both storm water and coastal flooding threats while creating spaces for relaxation and play.

Learn more:


  • JDS Development Group


SHoP Architects
Pine and Swallow