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How NYC Plans to Create a ‘Living Laboratory’ for Climate Research

The mayor is seeking applicants to create a test bed for urban climate solutions on the sparsely developed Governors Island.

An artist rendering of plans for a “living laboratory” on Governors Island.  

An artist rendering of plans for a “living laboratory” on Governors Island.  

Image: WXY architecture + urban design/bloomimages

Last September, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared that Governors Island would become a hub dedicated to preparing New York — and the world’s cities — for the impacts of climate change.

Now, to help achieve that goal, de Blasio and the Trust for Governors Island have launched a global competition to find a research or academic institution to establish a Climate Solutions Center on the island just south of Lower Manhattan. The aim is to turn the 172-acre Governors Island into a “living laboratory” for climate research, with a focus on environmental justice and community resiliency.

The competition was announced alongside a $150 million investment in the island’s transportation, utility and building infrastructure. That’s on top of the $400 million the city has spent over the last decade to turn the former military base into an urban retreat for New Yorkers, with an expansive park, and water and electricity upgrades. The new funds will also support the broader redevelopment project, which is expected to generate 7,000 jobs on the island.