New outdoor spaces

Skip the Great Lawn---this summer, you'll want to stake out a spot at one of these public attractions.

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

    New Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion

  • Photograph: Courtesy Bittertang

    City of Dreams Pavilion 2011: Burble Bup

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Jane's Carousel

Photograph: Zenith Richards

New Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion

New Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion


What it is:
In 2009, the Netherlands gifted New York with this structure—it was a birthday present of sorts, since that year marked the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's exploration of his namesake river. Now, nearly two years later, the New Amsterdam Plein surrounding the pavilion will finally open to the public on the tip of the island where the Dutch first settled. The super-modern pavilion, made of fiberglass and wood, was designed by Dutch architecture firm UNStudio and is shaped (appropriately) like a windmill.
What to do there:
The building will be home to an information center for city visitors, as well as the Merchants Market—a food hub focusing on locally sourced ingredients. It will be surrounded by the plein, a wide-open plaza with tables and chairs, where visitors can congregate.
Where to go:
Battery Park, enter at State and Whitehall Sts (212 344-3491,

2011 City of Dreams Pavilion: Burble Bup

What it is:
Part cozy nook, part eco-friendly hub, this gathering spot—which was chosen as the winner of Figment art project's City of Dreams competition—is a little hard to describe (as the rendering above shows). The bulk of the area is a lounge made of soil- and bark-filled tubes, molded into a circular alcove; the roof will be created out of balloonlike shapes (the "bups" of the name) made from customized inflatable materials. After this summer, the bups will live a long life as floating toys in various NYC public pools, and the seating mounds will be composted.
What to do there: The oddball space is a place to unwind during the long, hot summer; visitors can stop by after perusing the goodies at Figment's annual festival on the island (June 10--12), or just bring a book and hang out at any time.
Where to go: Governors Island (

Jane's Carousel

What it is: When Empire--Fulton Ferry Park (one of the green spaces within the massive Brooklyn Bridge Park) reopens later this summer, there will be a new attraction for the city's kids (and kids at heart): Jane's Carousel, a 1922 merry-go-round that was temporarily housed in a building on Water Street in Dumbo. Artist Jane Walentas has labored over the amusement for more than 20 years, restoring it to its original working condition; its permanent home within the park will be an airy, transparent pavilion, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.
What to do there: Go for a ride, of course! The attraction will be open year-round, accompanied by a spectacular light show that will cast shadows of the horses onto screens facing the East River.
Where to go: Brooklyn Bridge Park, Empire--Fulton Ferry Park, enter at Water and New Dock Sts, Dumbo, Brooklyn (