Future Green Studio

Google SJT

St. John's Terminal

Manhattan, NY


GOOGLE'S new Headquarters at St. John’s terminal has been adapted into a new center for tech and innovation. The old terminus to the raised railway – now partially repurposed as The High Line linear park –  has been skillfully engineered to support over 2.5 acres of open space, more than half of which is fully planted with New York native habitat. Located on the original shoreline of Manhattan, the public entry plaza and beautification of the surrounding streetscape form a new gateway to the Hudson River Park. The urban design improvements include a new mid-block crosswalk connecting to the Hudson River Park, and a verdant street connection between Washington Street and the West Side Highway.

 The public entry plaza provides an immersive garden experience through lush, resilient plantings and groves of native trees. The design draws from natural shoreline forms with planting berms, natural boulders and geometric stools and paving all regionally sourced from upstate New York.  At the 2nd floor, the existing train tracks and platforms are planted with native trees, shrubs and groundcover, and appear as though they have spontaneously taken root there. Seven stories of window boxes on the north façade provide an ecological ladder or stepping stones for local birds and insects as they traverse from the plaza up to the 12th floor terrace. The Audubon Society is monitoring the success of the sustaining wildlife and have witnessed 40 species of bird in the first season.  

 Collectively, the terraces provide a diverse range of work-space environments that inspire collaboration and imagination. The 4th-floor terrace, located on the roof of the existing building, takes cues from its industrial past through distinctive architectural elements, including wind-mitigation screens, pergolas and seating nooks. The events terrace hosts theatergoers from the auditorium with a large flexible space, planting islands, fossilized limestone bar counters and pergolas. The 11th floor, inspired by Dutch term, Bloemendaal – or “Valley of Flowers” – used to characterize the land that Manhattan originally occupied, a 1/4 mile, 360-degree walking path that offers a moment of respite, with exceptional views across the water and of the Manhattan skyline. The 12th-floor terrace brings employees back to nature with rocky outcroppings and emergent alpine plants at the meditation garden and intimate seating areas nestled in the Pine grove. A large lawn with rolling topography, a bosque of oak trees and catenary lights, supports flexible use for wellness programming and happy hour events, as well as lunch hour picnicking. 

Where sustainability was one of the project’s key goals; all of the timber decking, furniture and windscreens across the terraces is repurposed from the historic Coney Island boardwalk; 100 new trees have been planted on site; solar panels at the 4th and 12th floors supplement the building’s electricity; and all of the stormwater for the building is captured and released to sustain all of the plantings through the smart irrigation system which monitors local evapotranspiration rates and rainfall.