Recycled Sidewalks Make Cool But Scary Traffic Medians (Photos)

queens-plaza-median-5 photo

All images courtesy of Tobiah Horton/WRT

At New York City's Queens Plaza, where seven subway lines meet under the foot of the Queensboro Bridge, there are some new, very interesting traffic medians. Just a facet of a $75 million project to reorganize, beautify, and make sustainable the heavily trafficked area, the medians are made from sidewalks that have been demolished in the course of construction. They're unique and, likely a first for traffic medians, quite cool.


The roughly broken slabs of concrete and the plants between them give the medians a surprisingly natural look (another first). They are also particularly foreboding, and not just because they resemble really crowded graveyards - you don't want to imagine what they'll do to the underside of your car. And since they're made from local materials and their main purpose is to direct pedestrians and cyclists to dedicated, safer traffic lanes, they get lots of bonus points.

The medians are the work of Tobiah Horton, the landscape designer behind the Willow Patch project near Syracuse, New York, a created wetland, stormwater mitigation design using reclaimed materials.

The New York Times gives an overview of the Queens Plaza project:

The improvements will include planting more than 500 trees and creating open space, constructing landscaped traffic medians, installing crosswalks at dangerous intersections, increasing street lighting and adding park benches. The city expects to complete this work in 2011, using a combination of $22.5 million in city funding and $56 million in federal funding, including a recent infusion of federal stimulus funds.

According to WRT ((with Margie Ruddick and Marpillero Pollak Architects), the firm behind the project, the new Queens Plaza will be:

an urban green machine with two new urban parks. Integrating water, wind, solar, and other environmental systems within the layered structures of bridges, roadways, elevated trains, and subways, the project will humanize the infrastructure at Queens Plaza.

We'll have to wait and see whether the project will live up to the hype, but we can give the medians a thumbs-up right now. They're a clever reuse of the demolished sidewalks, and a reminder that great design is in the details.




View more photos via Flickr.

More on rethinking urban space and infrastructure:
Six Infrastructure Projects to Save 1.3 Billion Gallons of Water in Australia
New York's Pier 57 Will Become a Park on Shipping Containers
Best of Infrastructurist: Floating Trains, The World's Sexiest Bus Stop and 15 Hot New Careers In Infrastructure

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