Snug Harbor's 83-acre campus is a historic waterfront landscape home to dynamic programming in education, horticulture, agriculture, recreation, performance and visual arts. This site on Staten Island was important to the Native American Lenape people; later it became home to one the earliest American charity institutions for retired sailors, serving for over a hundred years, the area included residence dormitories, houses for staff, a hospital, green house, an area for farming and many more facilities for the sailors. As modern pensions reduced the needs of retired merchant marines, the 1950s brought a wave of demolition to Sailors' Snug Harbor. In 1971, the City of New York purchased Snug Harbor and promptly designated the campus grounds public parkland. In 1972, because the campus is replete with many of New York's first landmark buildings, the site was designated a National Register Historic District.
With events taking place year-round on campus, and increased interest in expanding offerings amongst key stakeholders, NBW partnered with The LiRo Group and Marvel Architects to develop a master plan for the cultural center and botanical garden. The master plan provides a robust long-term vision for this ecologically diverse landscape within the dense urban fabric of the north shore of Staten Island. Amplifying the rural character and ecological resources of the site, the master plan restores the historic waterfront, strengthens and organizes the programmatic core of the site, and includes several program spaces for hosting an increasing variety of community, educational, and performing arts events. New spaces are designed to encourage visibility and cross-pollination of campus activities, while the site's entries, circulation and wayfinding have been clarified and re-envisioned to facilitate a deeper and more coherent experience of the landscape, while fully supporting expanding program, efficient maintenance and ecological sustainability.