Freedom Plaza


Freedom Plaza




Soloviev Group and Mohegan


Culture, Civic, Residential, Hospitality, Retail, Urbanism, Space Planning



Freedom Plaza will create a new civic and cultural hub along Manhattan’s East River, just south of the United Nations headquarters. The development will bring a 4.77-acre public waterfront open space to an area historically lacking green space, with plans for an in-park Museum of Freedom and Democracy, much-needed affordable housing, two hotels, retail and restaurants. With a below-grade gaming area connected to the hotels, Freedom Plaza is one of several projects vying for three downstate gaming licenses in and around New York City.


Freedom Plaza will extend BIG’s contribution to New York City’s waterfront, alongside adjacent coastal projects that include the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, the Battery Park City Resiliency project and River Ring in Brooklyn.

“Our plan is to develop this site in a way that delivers benefits for the local neighborhood and the city as a whole, worthy of its skyline and waterfront location, and befitting New York City's key role as a leader in the global cultural economy. We value the community input that we have received throughout the planning process and are proud to help meet the need for residential and affordable housing and public open space, as well as providing a daycare, food market, and an array of new dining and retail offerings.”

Michael Hershman — CEO, Soloviev Group

The Freedom Plaza towers align with the orthogonal grid of Manhattan to extend the view corridors from Midtown eastward to the East River and Queens. The design respects the celebrated UN complex to the north while also adding playful and sculptural elements to the waterfront. The two residential towers pay homage to modernist New York City buildings of the 1950s and 1960s, with striped glass and aluminum facades connected at the base by a podium that will house a food market and retail. The two hotel towers, clad in a warm metal finish, connect at the roof, creating visual unity between the buildings.

"When Le Corbusier, Niemeyer and Harrison designed the UN Secretariat Building, they grafted an oasis of international modernism onto the dense urban grid of Manhattan, creating a park on the river framed by towers and pavilions. Due to the nature of the work of the UN, access to that park - although open to all nations - remains necessarily restricted, for good reasons. With our design for Freedom Plaza, we continue to build on these architectural principles by uniting three city blocks to form a public green space reaching from 1st Avenue to the East River overlook, creating a green connection all the way to the water's edge. Bookending the park are two pairs of towers, joined at base or top and each framing a corner plaza: one showcasing the life of the city and the other forming an urban gate from the city to the upper park and East River beyond. Balanced on a perch overlooking the river, the Museum of Freedom and Democracy neighbors the towers and celebrates the origin and evolution of one of the most impactful inventions of mankind and our continuous struggle to build, maintain and protect the institutions that uphold it. We are incredibly honored and thrilled to be part of the team that can envision a new major public space in this great city, to contribute to the iconic skyline of Manhattan's riverfront, and to imagine the architecture of the museum celebrating one of mankind's greatest inventions: Democracy."

Bjarke Ingels — Founder & Creative Director, BIG

The buildings within Freedom Plaza are placed at the perimeter of the site to maximize space for the multilevel, universally accessible green spaces roughly the size of Bryant Parkwhich include a children’s play area, dog run and event lawn with a bandshell for hosting al fresco events. The landscaping is designed to host a native botanical overlay and climate-adaptive species, with gardens providing food and habitat for pollinators year-round. The sculpture program and an amphitheater below the museum will offer cultural experiences for visitors and neighborhood residents alike, while educational programs centered around the native flora and sustainable practices emphasize the park’s commitment to environmental consciousness. Restaurants, a food market, community spaces, a daycare and other amenities line the northern and southern edges of the park.

At the heart of Freedom Plaza’s green space will be the Museum of Freedom and Democracy. Taking the shape of a Möbius strip, the museum winds on top of itself, allowing for outdoor walking paths. The museum forms a spiraling and infinite geometry over the amphitheater as a symbol of unity, and takes cues from the traditional Greek theater as a nod to those who created democracy thousands of years ago.

“Urban developments of this scale usually feature a multistory podium with parking and inaccessible private amenities on a podium rooftop. Freedom Plaza, however, breaks free from that stereotype by integrating all podium programs such as parking, retail, ballroom, gaming and entertainment below-grade, which allows us to create a generous green space accessible to everyone.”

Martin Voelkle — Partner, BIG

Freedom Plaza intends to be an operational net-zero carbon development. The site is designed to use the East River as a heat sink and heat source to supplement the buildings’ heating, cooling and domestic hot water systems, which will reduce potable water demand by 24.5 million gallons annually. Stormwater capture and retention, as well as the park’s mature trees, will help minimize urban heat island effect. Freedom Plaza will also utilize a minimum of 20% electric vehicle charging stations for its onsite parking with capacity to scale to 60%. 

Freedom Plaza draws inspiration from New York’s many celebrated dual interior-exterior public spaces, including the nearby Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice. As hotel guests arrive, they enter a light-filled “forest atrium” that brings the outdoor public space inside through skylights and floating planters. From this atrium, guests can access the various food and beverage outlets, convention and event spaces, gaming facilities, and street-level retail. To further ease traffic concerns, a special entrance to the resort facility will be established on the 41st Street side of the property.


The two hotel towers connect via a skybridge cantilevered over the East 41st St. and 1st Avenue corner of the site. The skybridge lobby features a dramatic multistory viewing platform with a glass floor and ceiling and the Soloviev Foundation Art Gallery, while a 150,000-gallon infinity pool – one of the largest rooftop pools in North America – will be perched on the roof. Banyan Tree hotel amenities, including a spa and wellness center, restaurants and bars, and private gaming are also located in the bridge interior. 

Bjarke Ingels Beat Schenk Martin Voelkle Alvaro Velosa Andreas Buettner Kristian Hindsberg Margaret Tyrpa Otilia Pupezeanu Sang Ha Jung Cheng Zhong Douglass Alligood Jan Klaska Johannes Alexander Hackl Will Chuanrui Yu Alejandro Guadarrama Jeff Yinong Tao Brendan Murphy Joanne Zheng Hudson Parris Rafael Alvarez Sparsh Gandhi Youjin Rhee Sunghwan Um Paul Heberle M. Omer Khan


Rizzo Brookbridge
Herrick Feinstein
Friedmutter Group
OJB Landscape Architecture
Thornton Tomasetti