Battery Playscape

A multi-level discovery landscape for play, inspired by nature

Fall 2021

Standard setting design, unique play features

The Battery Conservancy (TBC) funded the design and construction of The Battery Playscape. When completed, TBC will maintain and program the playground.

TBC believes that a child’s introduction to the natural world fosters a commitment to environmental stewardship. Playscape’s five ecology zones—Bluff, Marsh, Dune, Meadow, and Riverbed– achieve this goal. TBC implemented Playscape’s resilient design post-Superstorm Sandy when the park survived the full force of the 15-foot storm surge and became a focal point of sea level rise. Playscape’s design works with nature, transforming climate challenges into opportunities for creative play and learning. It serves as a model of active and passive recreation for flood prone landscapes throughout the world.

Our Partners

General Contractor

Paul J. Scariano, Inc.

Explore the Ecology Zones


Maglin Site Furniture
Richter Spierlgerate
Champlain Stone
QCP: Concrete Solutions
Fine Concrete
DMB Construction Corp.

Explore the Ecology Zones


Lyrical patterns of water illuminate the portal, fence, and custom seating. Daylight filters through the punctuated surfaces to showcase Manhattan island’s tides and currents. It illustrates the interplay of water and light. The unique portal to the 1.4-acre playground ensures children’s safety as they wander and explore all five ecology zones. Seating connects these multi play environments and weaves among 40,000 square feet of gardens.

Perennial plantings are inspired by the ecologies of New York State. Salt-water and flood tolerant trees and shrubs accommodate the next great storm and ensure these plantings survive and flourish. The Battery Playscape will be an appealing stop for migratory birds and insects, such as the Monarch butterflies feeding on the Milkweed that populates the Bluff and Meadow.

Verdant bioswales interconnect the Playscape experience, capturing rainwater. Even on dry days, the swales are activated by runoff from the Riverbed’s water play. In rainy weather, runoff hydrates native plantings as it percolates into the soil. Crisscrossed by footbridges, these swales offer children a closeup view of stormwater practices and the importance of wetlands to our human, plant, and animal communities.

A reservoir accommodating 30,000 gallons of stormwater prevents overflow and protects the wildlife of New York Harbor.

Five Ecology Zones:


Five Adirondack granite slides are set among perennial gardens and rock outcroppings. The low and medium slides are doubles, allowing toddlers to hold hands with a friend or family member. The high slide reaches 18 feet in height. Wheelchair transfer platforms are at the low and medium slides. The Bluff ramp ascends to the Cliff House which is wheelchair accessible and is at the same elevation as the Half Moon House, located in the Marsh. Horticulture enhances the stone crevasses of the Bluff and is reflected in the mirrored Shade Clouds. These sculptural elements protect children from the sun as the tree canopy matures.



Seven playhouses populate the Marsh. The Shadow, Peek-A-Boo, and Rain/Percussion houses are at ground level, inspiring improvisation. Four houses, Cloud, Triangle, Half Moon, and Sky, are reached by connecting ladders, a footbridge, and a tunnel. They invite children to experience height and views of city and sea. All houses encourage role playing, creativity and collaboration.



Water flows and cascades into a sand basin inspired by Manhattan’s grand rivers. Hidden under the sand, children discover fascinating creatures found in New York Harbor, including a 4ft octopus. The Riverbed is designed for all children, and includes a wheelchair transfer platform.



The Dune landscape presents an undulating climbing structure and Showbox, the first improv theater in a NYC playground. The 9ft climbing wall descends into steps for pre-toddlers as they advance from crawling to walking, important to developmental learning.

The Dune transforms into amphitheater seating for performances at  ShowBox. This unique theater was developed with Cheryl Henson of Jim Henson Foundation and MacArthur Fellow Basil Twist.  ShowBox is a 14ft two-toned stainless steel cube that has a 9ft x 9ft stage with metal-mesh curtains and rigging for student-made scenery. It will present string puppets, plays, musicals, dance, and recitals. Its southeast corner hosts the Hand Puppet Nook. Children become artists, actors, directors, producers, musicians, and puppeteers.



The Meadow invites children to meander and discover an enchanted world of conifers, native shrubs, grasses and blooming perennials. They are immersed in “wild” nature and are free to explore an enchanted and biodiverse oasis.


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Spontaneous Discovery
Success Stories

SeaGlass Carousel

The Battery Conservancy conceived and ?led ?the development? of SeaGlass Carousel to provide children and adult?s ?a virtual underwater ?experience?.

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The Battery Gardens

Visited by over 7 millions people each year, The Battery was the first New York City public park to introduce a horticultural landscape without fences or an admission fee.

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The Battery Urban Farm

The Battery Conservancy created Battery Urban Farm to engage students, residents, and visitors in sustainable farming techniques, the joys of tasting new foods, and environmental stewardship.

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