Over the past two decades, the Meatpacking District has undergone a dramatic shift from a historic working district to a destination area and cultural hub, complete with major fashion houses and boutiques, top-tier hotels, restaurants, a vibrant nightlife and the addition of the popular Highline and the Whitney Museum. As a result of this growth, there have been related traffic volume issues, pedestrian safety, noise, and community relations. In response to these concerns, the NYCDOT Plaza Program sought to provide plazas as public amenities which mitigate the traffic flow and increase pedestrian safety. Ken Smith Workshop was first commissioned to design seven temporary public plazas along 9th Avenue.
Following the success of the temporary plaza and street calming measures Ken Smith Workshop worked on the permanent reconstruction of 9th Avenue. With the Department of Design and Construction as the Client (DDC) and in coordination with New York City DOT, Ken Smith Workshop worked on the streetscape and plaza design, furnishings, and planter and street tree planting improvements with AECOM. A ribbon cutting ceremony in August marked the successfully opening of the reconstruction project.