Search results for "waterfront"
$2 billion waterfront project in Washington, D.C., adds SHoP Architects, Michael Van Valkenburgh, HWKN, and others
Seafood for Thought
The plan to combine fishing, tourism, and the waterfront to invigorate a New England city
Working waterfronts along the Eastern seaboard are slowly dying out. As rising sea temperatures result in different fish migration patterns and locations, fishermen are struggling to adapt and keep up. The phenomenon is believed by many scientists to be due to climate change—the effects of which are most prominently evidenced on the East Coast according to a 2009 article, “Progress in Oceanography,” which found that waters in the northeast saw their temperatures rise at twice the global rate between 1982 and 2006.
The port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, however, has remained strong. Since 1999 it has been the nation’s number one fishing port, netting 40 million pounds of seafood valued at more than $329 million in 2014, generating economic activity surpassing $1 billion.
Sustaining this economic fruition is a different matter, though. Boston-based consultant Sasaki has produced a study of New Bedford’s waterfront, a scheme that seeks to further the area’s economic longevity.
Proposals vary from advocating investment in particular areas and buildings to introducing other industries to the area. An example of the latter can be seen in the suggestion to enhance access—both public and private—to the Whaling City Seafood Display Auction where national and international buyers bid on fish. “A direct connection between fishing boats and the seafood auctions would improve the efficiency of getting fish to the consumer and make the process a transparent experience for the public,” reported Sasaki. Additionally, this would allow tourists to witness fish trading, something that is popular in, London, Sydney, Tokyo, and even, as Sasaki points out, Chatham, Massachusetts.
As seen in the diagram at the top of the page, Sasaki sorted areas into “water dependency” zones, which helps to form a strategy for future development, allotting certain areas for public interaction and economic activity.
Urban planner and project manager at Sasaki Brie Hensold highlighted the city’s State Pier as another opportunity, describing it as a “lynchpin.” Hensold said that the pier is “heavily dependent” on the water and could be a crucial element for future tourism. In a similar vein as the auction house proposal, Sasaki advocates showcasing New Bedford’s industrial heritage and contemporary operations to tourists and the public. Mystic Seaport, just 80 miles away in Connecticut already does this, charging visitors $26 to walk around the old port and sample its history.
Studio Gang’s research-based approach to ecological design rethinks the shape of urban waterfronts
As Studio Gang gains respect as an office that builds formally and programmatically ambitious projects, one aspect in particular has helped the firm continue to be a major force: It is an office that does its homework. Every project that the studio does is accompanied by a body of research as well as collaborations with experts often outside of architecture. “As architects, we think of our role as being that of the translator,” explained Claire Cahan, design director at Studio Gang. “Early on in the project we bring in experts from interdisciplinary fields to discuss the past, present, and future conditions of a site. Our job is to ask questions and translate ideas between disciplines.” This becomes particularly visible in projects that involve water ecologies.
After a yearlong study in collaboration with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), the studio released Reverse Effect (2011). The book explored urban and ecological implications of severing the link between the Chicago River and the Mississippi River, effectively reversing the flow of the Chicago River to its original direction (something that has actually happened three times). The book presented a new Chicago that embraced a reshaped river as part of its cultural and civic space.
“We’re interested in the intersection between built and natural environments,” said Cahan about the office’s broader vision and approach. “While building projects typically have distinct property lines and boundaries, natural systems often intersect with property lines in a fluid way. Through research, which includes conversation, mapping, and analysis, we seek to understand the natural, cultural, economic conditions far beyond a property line.”
A similar study, in collaboration with Milwaukee-based Applied Ecological Services and Edgewater Resources, looked at the 1,000-acre Milwaukee harbor. The Edge Effect master plan set out to establish a framework and logic for Milwaukee’s waterfront development. The master plan envisions relocating the current active inner harbor to a new outer harbor, while bringing the city to the water’s edge. The process would include softening the coastline to achieve a more complete and sustainable ecosystem by learning from stable natural coastlines and reefs. This concept is already being deployed in the Studio Gang–designed improvements to Chicago’s Northerly Island, which has a similar geographic situation.
Big Nature, Big City
Seattle’s waterfront transformation by James Corner Field Operations prepares to break ground this year
Seattle, Washington’s waterfront redevelopment, an endeavor James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) has been working on diligently for nearly a decade, is steadily moving closer to being implemented, as the $700 million project heads toward beginning construction this year.
The development cleared a major hurdle in August when supporters of the project garnered over 80 percent of the cast ballots needed to reject an initiative that would have derailed the JCFO scheme. JCFO’s vision for the two-mile-long promenade would stitch together city’s burgeoning downtown with its isolated, post-industrial waterfront, converting the space currently occupied by the Alaskan Way Viaduct into a broad pedestrian-oriented waterfront park and roadway. The Alaskan Way Viaduct, built in 1953, is currently in the process of being replaced by a partially completed underground highway tunnel that would free up the city’s coastline for public recreational activities. The redevelopment will be funded via a new tax levied on downtown businesses and will continue a nationwide trend of replacing or repurposing aging infrastructure with a mix of public amenities and new development.
Andrew tenBrink, a designer at JCFO who has been working on the project since it started in 2010, said the firm had been “struck by the ‘big nature’ of the area,” as it developed a project for a city sitting “on the cusp of the wilderness, between the bay and mountains.”
Aside from creating a new recreational spine for the city’s downtown, the new route will also string together existing cultural destinations along the waterfront like the famed Pike Place Market to the south, the Bassetti Architects–designed Seattle Aquarium at its center, and the Weiss/Manfredi Architects–designed Olympic Sculpture Park to the north. Charles Anderson Landscape Architecture was a landscape architecture consultant for the project.
The aquarium, built in 1977 on the waterfront’s Pier 59, can currently only be reached via a disruptive landscape of viaduct overpasses and parking lots. In the new plan, it will be located at the end of a broad public plaza accessible by a scenic lookout designed in concert with the waterfront scheme, reconnecting it to the city center.
JCFO’s redevelopment plan would also connect to the iconic Olympic Sculpture Park located at the northern edge of the development, connecting the city’s network of bicycle and walking trails, currently divided between north and south, together along the waterfront. TenBrink described the history of the waterfront as something that has “constantly evolved” over its transition from native habitat to industrial area and transportation corridor. In the near future, Seattle’s waterfront will transform once again to become a line between the “pristine nature of Pacific Northwest and a very manufactured (urban) landscape,” said tenBrink.
Another major and partially completed component of the project entails rebuilding an existing seawall used to mitigate Puget Sound’s constantly fluctuating tides. Between epic “king tides,” monthly lunar tides, and other seasonally variable waves, the water’s height can vary by as much as 12 feet, so the design team has deployed specially-designed panels, some codesigned with local artists, to create spots for tidal wildlife to live and grow. The wall also marks the area’s mean, low, and high tides and contains walkway areas with embedded glass blocks that allow for daylight to permeate the water, as to not disrupt sensitive spawning grounds.
The remaining areas that feed into the promenade and roadway will also receive improvements to their streetscapes in order to facilitate the pedestrianization of surrounding areas while also inserting key landscape components.
This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.
Foster + Partners and SCAPE unveil plans for massive office complex on the Red Hook waterfront
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYCDPR), its Community Parks Initiative (CPI), and the Randall’s Island Park Alliance (RIPA), has inaugurated the East Harlem Esplanade Project. The scheme aims to completely rebuild the 107th Street Pier while expanding its programming in the process. This all includes a strategy pertaining to reconstruction advocacy, stewardship, and programming best practices for an improved Esplanade along East Harlem, covering East 96th to East 125th streets.
RIPA will provide support in the form of expertise for the management of long-term development, maintenance, programming and resiliency measures along the East Harlem waterfront.
Aimee Boden, RIPA President said, “The Randall’s Island Park Alliance is looking forward to reaching across the river to work with our nearest neighbors, and to helping to plan for and facilitate improved access and long-term resiliency along the East Harlem Esplanade.”
The CPI is currently committed to improving 67 community parks deemed to be "under-funded" and in "densely populated and growing neighborhoods with higher-than-average concentrations of poverty."
Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver said, “Conservancy partners like the Randall’s Island Park Alliance enhance New York City’s key public spaces with their expertise, resources, and passion. Now, with their generous commitment to create a strategic plan for the East Harlem Esplanade, RIPA is extending its influence to one of our city’s most densely populated communities, and providing expertise that will drive green equity and sustainability for the neighborhood.”
At the moment, RIPA is currently speaking to public agencies, advocacy groups and local stakeholders in order to assemble concerns related to the project while also referencing existing studies to develop the plan.
"East Harlem is a thriving, growing community that deserves world class waterfront access," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "For far too long, our esplanade has been neglected and has fallen into disrepair, which is why the Council has made a priority of allocating millions of dollars in capital funds to address these needs, including the reopening of the 107th Street Pier. Working with community residents and local stakeholders, the East Harlem Esplanade Project will help create a comprehensive plan to fully revitalize this important public space for generations to come."
State Senator José M. Serrano said, "Through the collaborative efforts of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, the Parks Department and now the Randall's Island Park Alliance we have a dynamic team that will transform the East Harlem portion of the Esplanade into a beautiful piece of parkland. Together we will be able to strengthen the East Harlem Esplanade and give the residents of El Barrio a much needed green space that will create economic growth for the surrounding neighborhood."
Streetcar Named BQX
New details emerge for the BQX, New York City’s proposed waterfront streetcar route
At breakfast talk hosted by the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center earlier this month, Harris Schechtman, national director of transit at Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants, gave academics and members of the public a full run-down of plans for the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX), a proposed waterfront streetcar link that would connect neighborhoods between Sunset Park, Brooklyn and Astoria, Queens.
The nonprofit Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, a coalition of real estate investors, transportation planners, and development boosters, hired Sam Schwartz to develop the plan in December 2014. 14 months later, the mayor officially debuted the plan in his State of the City address. (Schechtman noted the "unprecedented" turnaround time from concept to debut.)
A New Yorker himself, Schechtman presented a case for the streetcar by confirming what most commuters observe every morning: Buses are feeders from the subway, while existing subway lines are overcrowded. Ferries, meanwhile, can only accommodate only 3,000 riders per day. The streetcar is a "Goldilocks solution," enthused Schechtman, who, prior to joining engineering firm Sam Schwartz in 2001, spent nearly 32 years at the MTA, including nine as the vice president of operations. The catenary-free, battery-powered streetcars can carry 175 passengers, compared to the Select Bus Service's (SBS) 100.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22XH4-nNjlA
The route map that's circulating in the media is a "very and deliberately vague description of the route," explained Schechtman. "The BQX project is a project in motion." Even so, Schechtman was able to lay out some specifics: When it begins operations in 2023, the streetcar will glide along a 15 mile north-south route from Astoria to Sunset Park, with 30 stops, each about a half-mile apart. Exclusive lanes, where streetcars can travel at 12 miles per hour, will comprise about three-quarters of the route, while 15 percent of the tracks will feature a contiguous-with-the-roadway, "SBS-style" design, that will slow travel to 10 miles per hour. Trains will arrive five minutes during rush hour, and every ten minutes off-peak; Sam Schwartz estimates that daily ridership will reach 52,000 by 2035.
Schechtman had strong words for those who view streetcars, like the one in car-dependent Dallas that has 200 riders per day, as dinky tourist boondoggles. "The [streeetcars] that are failing are the ones that were failing when they went to the drawing board. These efforts give streetcars a bad name. The BQX is not a cute tourist attraction, but real transit that carries a helluva lot of people." The annual operating costs are estimated to be between $26 and $30 million, with $17 million in projected fare revenue.
With the MTA struggling to finance even basic capital improvements, where is there money for a new infrastructure project? The BQX is a NYC DOT project, and thus operates outside the MTA's purview. Its design relies on existing zoning, doesn't compete with other development priorities, and assumes a 3.5 percent growth in taxes that go to the city, according to Schechtman. The biggest cost will be the relocation of below-grade utilities.
According to Schechtman, the city hired an independent consultant to review the work and the consultant validated Sam Schwartz's findings. A third consultant is now reviewing the streetcar plans. "We offered the plan to the city on a silver platter," Schechtman explained. "We took an idea on no one's radar—and [dealt] with all the key issues and fatal flaws. The plan so powerfully supports the goals of the city; we said to the city, 'We are going to take that burden off of you, we invite you to take a look at our plan.'"
AN reached out the DOT and the Mayor's press office, but as of this time AN has not been able to confirm Schechtman's description of the planning and review process.
A highly skeptical crowd grilled Schechtman on specifics. How will the streetcar pass smoothly through bustling downtown Brooklyn? (There are fears that a dip inland towards Atlantic and Flatbush avenues will be a bottleneck.) Why build a new transit system in a floodplain? (The embedded tracks are more flood- and stormproof than other forms of transit.) This seems like a gentrification plan. (It is, although the line should benefit residents of waterfront NYCHA projects, too. The streetcar is intended to entice developers to build housing, which could be required to respond to newly-enacted zoning that mandates affordable housing construction along with market-rate development.) Will fares be cross-honored with the MTA? (We're working on it.)
The public input process has just begun: on May 9, a public meeting was held in Astoria, and on May 19, another meeting will be held in Red Hook. A draft of the final route should be ready by the end of this year. In the meantime, check out the Friends of the BQX's recently launched website for updates, project FAQs, and a spate of shiny new streetcar renderings.