Located some 800 yards off the southern tip of Manhattan, Governors Island served as an army base for almost two centuries and then a Coast Guard station from 1966 to 1996. In 2003, New York State and City took joint control of the majority of the island (the National Park Service oversees the rest) and opened it to the public on summer weekends.

The 172-acre plot is home to several historic structures, including Fort Jay and Castle Williams, as well as Liggett Hall, a former barracks designed by McKim, Mead & White and completed in 1929. As a condition of the deed transfer, New York agreed to create a park, and in 2006 Dutch design and landscape architecture firm West 8 won the commission to reimagine sections of the historic grounds.

I recently toured the island with Leslie Koch, president of the Trust for Governors Island, which runs the island for the city, and West 8 cofounder Adriaan Geuze, who guided me through an architectural environment that’s in the midst of a remarkable transformation.

Click here to see the old and the new on Governors Island.

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