The Central Park Conservancy

Since 1980, the Central Park Conservancy has worked to restore, maintain, and enhance New York City’s Central Park, one of the most beloved and most used public urban spaces in America. Even in today’s modern world, one of the Conservancy’s biggest challenges is age old: trash. With a grant from Alcoa Foundation and Alcoa Inc., the Conservancy enlisted Landor to collaborate on a new waste and recycling system— the centerpiece of the Central Park Conservancy’s waste and recycling initiative and one that would make the park’s environment more sustainable.

Keeping within the necessary guidelines set by the park, Landor faced multiple design challenges, including the need to design a receptacle that could exist in concert with Central Park’s Olmstedian vernacular and maintain a modernist point of view. Using the traditional park bench as a point of departure, the Landor team designed the receptacles to meet the functional and operational needs of this highly trafficked, urban park, and focused on creating a product that would be easy to manufacture and maintain.

Designed specifically for Central Park by Landor’s New York office, the receptacles are fabricated completely in the United States by Landscape Forms and are environmentally sustainable, made from 30 percent recycled aluminum, which in turn is infinitely recyclable. The bins are finished with an environmentally-friendly powder coat. Materials and funding for the project were donated by Alcoa Inc. and the Alcoa Foundation. The initiative will replace all of the park’s current plastic trash “toters” with more than 700 of the newly designed receptacles.

Park officials estimate that on the most popular days, up to 250,000 visitors will see and use the receptacles. The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and the Public Design Commission praised the cans, lauding the importance of good design in public works. The media latched onto the story; major publications such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times ran articles on the new receptacles, while park users tweeted, posted, and blogged about their thoughts on the new system. In January 2014, Landor was honored with a Chicago Athenaeum Good Design Award for the receptacles, but most important, year-over-year recycling is up 35 percent since the installation of the new cans. The Landor-designed Central Park Conservancy receptacles have become a beautiful yet functional part of the Central Park’s landscape and future.

For Landor, this project is a good representation of focus on the user experience and product development, solving challenges that can be addressed through highly creative, high caliber design and production. Whether for physical or digital applications, Landor takes a research-based approach and adopts sustainable design practices to strategically solve our clients’ real-world challenges.