Jersey City, NJ
Sited on a long, narrow, 19-acre brownfield flanked by rail infrastructure and the New Jersey Turnpike, the Jersey City Municipal Service Center houses a wide array of municipal functions: departmental offices, public works dispatch, the city tow pound, salt and sand storage, and the domestic materials recycling center. Starr Whitehouse’s landscape design responds to the site’s multiple uses and scales, creating a cohesive whole that welcomes public visitors, facilitates mechanical operations, and reclaims the site while acknowledging its history.
At the southern and western edges of the site, a series of berms created from excavated material and planted with low-maintenance, successional meadow species screen the complex and create a rhythm of green that is legible to high-speed passing vehicles. The lower-resolution, industrial-scale perimeter landscape gives way to a finer-grained palette of ornamental grasses and shrubs on the site’s interior, where viewers encounter the landscape on foot. Zig-zagging pedestrian paths connect the facilities, guiding visitors through intimate inner coastal and piedmont landscapes punctuated with elements recalling the site’s industrial past: salvaged boulders, corten steel elements, and gabion walls of recovered materials.