By Jennifer Egan

James Corner Field Operations is bringing a public beach to Manhattan

East Landscape Architecture News
The current state of the Gansevoort Peninsula. (Max Guliani/the Hudson River Park Trust)
The current state of the Gansevoort Peninsula. (Max Guliani/the Hudson River Park Trust)

The Hudson River Park Trust has announced Manhattan’s first public beach. The nonprofit group has tapped James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) to transform the disused Gansevoort Peninsula (the site of the old salt shed) into a 5.5-acre park and beach in the Hudson River.

The jagged track of land sits just west of the Whitney Museum, at the southern terminus of another JCFO project, the High Line. The renovation will turn the vacant plot into a public park, complete with a beach—though the Trust admits that it won’t be open for swimming, likely because of the Hudson’s poor water quality. The new park will also be a buffer for storm surges and flooding and will be the largest green space in the entire Hudson River Park once complete.

Rendering of Day's End sculpture

David Hammons’s ghostly pier artwork will rise on the Hudson after all. (Courtesy the Whitney/Guy Nordenson and Associates)

Gansevoort Peninsula sits adjacent to where artist David Hammons’ ethereal recreation of the demolished Pier 52Day’s End, will rise in stainless steel, and the Trust has pledged that the work will be integrated into the future park.

That’s not all—the Trust is overseeing a suite of new projects up and down the western coast of Manhattan. Pier 55, the Thomas Heatherwick and Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects–designed island—park financed by billionaire Barry Diller—is rising just north of Day’s End on top of sculptural concrete caps. Down the coast is the ongoing $30 million renovation of Pier 26, which OLIN is transforming into an ecology center. Rafael Viñoly Architects is also building a two-story education center nearby.

Aerial rendering of Pier 55

The Thomas Heatherwick–designed Pier 55 has been, at times, compared to a playground for the rich. (Courtesy Heatherwick Studio)

So far, $152 million has already been raised for the Trust’s combined projects via air rights sales, and private, state, and city funding will be used to reach the required $900 million. The Trust will be soliciting feedback from the public and Community Board 2 before finalizing the revamped Gansevoort Peninsula’s design and beginning construction in 2020. If everything goes as planned, the park and beach are slated to open in 2022.

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