Governors Island Infrastructure Improvements

Developing an Oasis Just Past the Shores of the City


New York Harbor, NY


The Trust for Governors Island

Project Cost

$450 million


The City of New York created the Trust for Governors Island to operate, plan, and redevelop 150-acres of Governors Island into a destination with great public open spaces, as well as educational, not-for-profit, and commercial facilities. LiRo, in a joint venture, provided design review and resident engineering inspection services for the redevelopment as well as facilities management and construction management services.

About the Project

For almost two centuries, Governors Island was a military base and closed to the public, but in 2003, the federal government sold 150-acres of Island to the people of New York. As former Mayor Bloomberg said in one ribbon-cutting ceremony, “Governors Island was 172-acres of underutilized space,” adding that it is now “a spectacular, one-of-a-kind destination, a place to experience the beauty and history of New York harbor.”

The 30-acres of parkland include a plaza, newly planted trees and relaxation areas, sports fields and lawns, and more. In addition, new welcome areas have been added at the Island’s ferry landings, as have key visitor amenities, including lighting, seating, and signage throughout the Historic District. An additional 10-acre site features four hills made of recycled construction and fill materials, which will strengthen the Island’s resiliency in facing storm events. This area also includes playground areas and art features, as well as 360-degree breathtaking panorama of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, and the Lower Manhattan skyline.

Critical infrastructure improvements included a promenade above a reconstructed seawall along the waterfront, renovated building envelopes for the Island’s historic buildings, demolition of abandoned buildings, upgraded lift bridges and approach platforms at the ferry docks new potable water and electrical and telecommunication distribution systems, and redevelopment of the island’s drainage system.

Project Challenges & Solutions

Performing construction work on an island accessible only by ferry presented some daunting challenges to the LiRo team. The installation of the new hills required delivery of 280,000 cy of fill material and another 40,000 cy of topsoil. This amount of fill and topsoil must be barged and unloaded utilizing a crane with clamshell.

In the opposite direction, hazardous materials from demolished buildings and contaminated soils had to be moved off the Island without endangering the surrounding waterway. Reconstruction of the Island’s primary ferry bridges at the Soissons Dock and Battery Maritime Building added to the challenge.

Another major challenge LiRo faced was minimizing the impact to the traveling public while working on the maritime projects. Constant communication and close coordination were key for overcoming this obstacle.


Governors Island Park is open from May 1 through October 31 for the summer season. Although located only 800 yards from lower Manhattan, visitors enjoy a variety of activities removed from the fast pace of the city and has become a popular public destination in recent years. The Island’s historic buildings and green spaces have hosted cultural events, food festivals, concerts, and performances. Public art is also an important facet of the park, with several outdoor installations currently on display.

Future construction on Governors Island includes substantial investments into the Island’s underground infrastructure, and LiRo’s role has expanded to include managing the facility contracts that are inclusive of security, ferry transportation, emergency medical services, landscaping, janitorial, and building engineering.

News & Awards

  • 2012 Honor Award, ASLA
  • 2012 Award for Excellence in Design, NYC Public Design Commission
  • 2011 Award of Merit, ASLA NY Chapter


Resident/ Construction Engineering & Inspection


Parks & Recreation