Garden Gallery: WRT’s Queens Plaza

queens park tobiah horton WRT design urban re-use

Reworking the Queens Plaza which connects the Queensboro bridge to the waters edge in order to safely accommodate cyclists and pedestrians is a project I am not sure I would relish.  It seems un-imaginative and boring at best.  But looking at what the design team of Tobiah Horton and  Margie Ruddick of WRT Design and artist Michael Singer came up with,  I admit, might have to rethink my stance on such projects.

From the WRT website:

The Queens Plaza project transforms the tangle of urban infrastructure cutting through Long Island City from a harsh, disorienting industrial maze into a lush, navigable landscape, a gateway to Long Island City that organizes various flows and scales while providing a refuge for residents, workers and the road-weary. The urban and landscape design unites the surrounding neighborhoods and restores the connection between the city and the river.

The bulk of the feature is created by re-using removed concrete to create the dramatic structures that flow in and out of the street to indicate the ‘no-go’ areas and direct foot and cycle traffic to safe routes.   The agaves that soften the design are an interesting choice.  Certainly they will need little to no attention, but they will also probably not really increase their presence with time either.  I think is is lovely just as it is, but I have to admit, I think it could be even nicer with a tiny bit more green.  But it is certainly better than concrete barriers, or ground cover that would certainly fail or look shabby at best. Don’t you think?

queens plaze landscape design tobiah martin

all images by Tobiah Horton. Landscape Design by Tobiah Horton/Margie Ruddick at WRT Design; Urban Design: Marpillero Pollak Architects

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.


  1. Jenn on January 5, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    LOVE IT!

    They must have sandblasted the edges – that change in texture is EVERYTHING to this install.

    The agave (are they?) might surprise you. Some of them can get pretty vertical.

    Like this Bear Grass (Nolina)

  2. rochelle on January 5, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Jenn – maybe I am wrong — maybe it is bear grass?!? (not agave) — I don’t know this plant — is it hardy in NYC (probably zone 7 ish)?

  3. Tobiah Horton on January 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks for the post! The plant is yucca filamentosa. NYC Parks was very concerned about maintenance so a richer diversity of plants was not possible.

  4. Tobiah Horton on January 6, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I’m pretty sure they didn’t sandblast the edges, we specified that they hammer-smoothen any sharp edges and corners for safety.

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