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Part 2 Project 1999
William Burges
University of Brighton, UK
ISLAND 40, New York City

In 1997 a competition was announced for ideas for an urban park at Pier 40, which is on the west side of Manhattan at Houston Street. My response was to physically separate the pier from Manhattan and insert a weave of farming activities (citrus, herb and fish) and recreational activities in the form of promenades and a swimming complex. I have proposed a new city park with a landscape generated through process rather than aesthetics: this could also be read as the aestheticisation of process.

My work reflects an interest in issues concerning the provision of open space within cities, more specifically the cultural, social and physical densification of such spaces, so that they may support a wider range of activities and thus have greater relevance to urban activity at the end of the 20th century. The work investigates the notion of ‘park’ and the cultural expectations associated with urban landscapes.

William Burges

William Burges is proposed for the President’s medal on the basis of his diploma project for 'Island 40' in New York City, the conversion of the old Pier 40 on the Hudson at West Houston Street into a productive park, where swimming and the raising of citrus fruit, fish and herbs are combined.

The scheme is conceptually strong and, in research and design terms, thoroughly developed considering the scale of the project. It was also a brave departure for this student who already had established design skills in relation to small scale building projects, but took a risk in selecting a large scale conceptually based project with an extensive landscape design component which really stretched his capabilities. William’s scheme is inventive, carefully produced and informed by wide reading; inspirations are drawn not only from architecture but also from literature, art practice and cultural studies.

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