Called “Mollusk,” the plan developed by Field Operations and WilkinsonEyre is encapsulated by an ideogram of a ridged, bumpy shell encircled by a golden path. “It should be a fairly empty landscape,” partner James Corner says. “No clutter. We want to maintain the scale of being out there in the harbor and the sense of vulnerability, of exposure.” The golden path represents the required promenade, which would create a hard edge all the way around the island. Within that band, the flat southern topography would be sculpted into a series of soft hills, crowned by flowering meadows. In a certain sense, FO’s is the most Olmstedian proposal, as it creates a naturalistic landscape on landfill from 1900, a place that could immediately seem like it had always been there.
But there are plenty of 21st-century touches. Facing Brooklyn, there would be protected boating areas, a beach carved into the island, and a floating pool set on the edge. At the far end, the land would be carved down, creating tidal pools that could fill with the bay’s original mollusks. Farther north are a set of thermal pools, heated in winter like an Icelandic sauna, and the Nest, a global weather institute. FO is already designing the landscapes for both the High Line and Fresh Kills parks, so it would have to be considered the front-runner.