Long Island City Oyster

How can a new development reconnect a neighborhood to its waterfront?

Queens, NY, USA
Design Development

After a boom in high-rise residential development, Long Island City—now more densely built and populated—lacked the balanced mix of uses and infrastructure that makes for a thriving community. As manufacturing retreated, the waterfront—once the focal point of the community—became desolate and abandoned.

To address these issues, CAZA developed Long Island City Oyster, a masterplan and new development model for New York City that reconnects the neighborhood to a revitalized waterfront. The plan creates a network of public spaces that knit together new buildings and links them to the water, laying the groundwork for a vibrant district. These public spaces work in synergy with a programming mix that positions the waterfront as a center of activity and strengthens its ecosystems.


The project’s built footprint accounts for only 55% of the total site area, leaving the rest of the space for a 2.5-acre park that unifies the buildings and reconnects Long Island City to its waterfront. The park hosts year-round outdoor and indoor amenities, including a 7,000-square-foot black box performance space, a waterfront ice skating rink that converts into a pool for the summer months, a riverside bosque, a restored oyster-bed wetland, an eco-themed children’s playground, an open plaza for farmer’s markets, a sandy beach, and a ferry landing.


The plan incorporates rainwater recycling measures and adds water-efficient landscaping that filters storm-water while counteracting urban heat island effect. The building’s massing and siting optimize passive temperature control and natural ventilation, reducing overall energy consumption.


The base of the buildings are shaped into sweeping public gateways that reinterpret the local industrial aesthetic of arches and recall the outlines of an oyster shell. Lined with community programs including shops, social services, multi-purpose event space, and a supermarket, these gateways interface with the surrounding park to create an inviting district for residents of Long Island City and visitors alike.

  • SITE: 4.7 acres
  • PARK: 2.5 acres
  • GFA: 1,435,301 SQF
  • PROJECT TEAM: Carlos Arnaiz, Laura del Pino, Jun Deng, Valentina Meloni, Youngeun Jung