This article has been updated with a new statement from the HRPT on the pier's design. The newest waterfront park on the Hudson may not appear quite like the stunning first renderings suggest. The Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT), a public benefit corporation in charge of Hudson River Park, wants to change its plans for the design of Pier 55. Initially conceived as an undulating 2.7-acre park supported by more than 500 mushroom cloud–like "pots" (precast concrete piers), the park was downsized slightly (to 2.4 acres), and many of the signature pots will be replaced by a flat structural base sandwiched between the piles and the landscaping. Conceived by London-based Heatherwick Studio and executed in collaboration with landscape architect Mathews Nielsen, the pier's sculpted topography, rising to six stories in some places, would host concerts, events, and public art in a sylvan setting that draws inspiration from the colors Acadia National Park in Maine. Over the objections of public space advocates, most of Pier 55's design and construction costs are being paid for privately by the fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and her husband, media executive Barry Diller. Overall, estimates place the project cost at more than $200 million, with the city contributing $37 million in funding. The Architect's Newspaper obtained a copy of a permit modification request the HRPT submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers that outlines changes to Pier 55's design (PDF). The changes raise questions about its final appearance, and about a design process that's shaped a major public space largely outside of the public eye. The modifications dramatically reduce the number of pots, a signature design element. In a letter to the Army Corps, the HRPT requested the changes because potential construction partners "expressed reluctance" to bid on the project, citing concerns about the pots' complex fabrication and installation challenges. The HRPT explained that an inadequate pool of bidders could lead to runaway construction costs. New drawings reduce the number of piles by 27 and the number of pots from 202 to 132. The remaining pots will be concentrated on the pier perimeter, concealing an interior supported by more traditional piles in steel and concrete. To visualize the changes, the original, more sculpted topography is depicted above, while the modified version of the design is below: Initially, the pots were supposed to provide the structure for the topography throughout; now the architects will use light foam material to create the rolling hills depicted in the renderings. In light of these substantial design modifications, one public space advocacy group is doubling down on its vocal opposition to the project. "Pier 55 was conceived and sold on the basis of a major sculptural art, so by putting it on a flat base and putting a lace tablecloth around it, the whole thing becomes a parody of itself," said Michael Gruen, president of the City Club of New York. The proposed changes, Gruen added, would reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the river for at least one hour per day by 36 percent, which could have an impact on marine life. The City Club has opposed Pier 55 almost since its inception. In a suit filed last year against the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the civic group's legal team contended that the Trust didn't do a proper environmental review of the project. In an email to supporters, the Club confirmed that that suit was dismissed, but called the court's decision "distressingly inaccurate." A second suit against the Army Corps of Engineers, the main permitting agency for the project, is ongoing. (Diller has called the lawsuits “garbage balls thrown at us.”) The group also contends that Pier 55, which sits between two city blocks, would obscure cherished public views of the Hudson. Plans show that the pier ranges in height from 9.5 to 61 feet above the waterline, potentially blocking the now-sweeping views. When reached for comment on the viewshed, pot count, and a request to verify other basic information in the document, the Trust, citing the pending litigation, declined to provide additional information "beyond what [it] has provided to the Army Corps." (Since press time, the Trust has issued the following statement: "The Trust has made technical alterations to make the project easier to build, but the topography, landscaping, program and size have not changed. Construction continues and we're looking forward to opening this addition to Hudson River Park in 2019." ) This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your city and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
Posts tagged with "Mathews Nielsen":
Standing near the top of Outlook Hill, Leslie Koch, president of The Trust for Governors Island, explained the reason for commissioning four huge earth mounds on an island in the middle of New York Harbor. "Most New Yorkers don't experience that fancy view [of the skyline]. You don't get to see the city on high from the city that created views." The Hills, part of a $220 million renovation of Governors Island, do create new ways of viewing the city and its surroundings. Landscape architecture firm West 8 was selected in 2007 to produce a master plan for Governors Island that included redesigns of the entire former military facility. Construction of the Hills began in 2013. Design was preceded by extensive on-site observation: the design team, led by Adriaan Geuze and Jamie Maslyn, spent hundreds of hours observing how visitors used the space. Maslyn noted that, for example, adults were using the swing sets intended for children. Discovery and play, consequently, are two themes that predominate in the realized design. To get to the site, visitors pass through a 40 acre welcome area. The space is meant for slow-paced leisure: reading, napping in hammocks, meandering through flower beds. The topography here creates a threshold for the rest of the site. Approached from the welcome area, the four hills rise smoothly from the level base of the island. Bright white concrete edging, to Geuze, "paints the topography more dramatically" and differentiates between fast and slow spaces. There is no main, or suggested, path to approach the hills. The paths fork in equally appealing directions, affording glimpses of the Statue of Liberty, lower Manhattan, or the Verrazano, depending on which way one turns. The hills obscure and reveal these sites gently, manipulating the horizon dramatically while accommodating a range of programs. Ranging in height from 25 to 70 feet, the names of the hills—Outlook, Slide, Discovery, and Grassy—correspond with their most salient feature. "Each of the hills," Koch noted, "embodies one of the attributes New Yorkers love about the island." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK7Xay5JQoY A zigzag path takes visitors up to the apex of Outlook Hill, 70 feet above ground. The vantage point afforded by the new topography allows visitors to see, standing still, the East and Hudson Rivers, Buttermilk Channel, New York Harbor, and the mouth of the Atlantic. The design team was intent upon creating a way for people of all ages and abilities to experience this view. All of the paved paths are at a maximum 4.5 percent slope: ADA compliant and wheelchair friendly. Granite blocks, harvested from the island's 1905 sea wall, create scrambles up the hillside to engage young people (or adventurous adults). Adjacent Slide Hill (40 feet high) will feature elements of pure play: four long slides. Discovery Hill (40 feet) will host a permanent installation by sculptor Rachel Whiteread, while Grassy Hill (25 feet) will be a place to relax on a sloping lawn. Governors Island's exposed location makes it vulnerable to the effects of both normal and extreme weather. To prevent the hills from shifting, settlement plates were planted at the base of the hills to measure changes in elevation. Molly Bourne, principal at Mathews Nielsen, vetted plants on their ability to withstand salt spray and high winds. Sumac and oak trees (around 860), as well as 43,000 maritime shrubs, will adapt to harsh conditions on the island. Storm resiliency is an integral feature of the design. Post-Sandy, 2.2 miles of sea wall, erected in 1905, were replaced in 2014 by a more modern fortification. Some of the pieces were repurposed as infill, along with an imploded building and a parking lot on the site of the Hills. In all, 25 percent of the fill is from the island, while the rest of was delivered via barge down the Hudson. While the Hills' official public opening is set for 2017, the site is open for previews on September 26th and 27th. Details here.
Even with last week's heat wave making it feel like July in the city, it will still be seven weeks before that oasis in New York Harbor, Governor's Island, opens for the season on June 5. But there's still plenty of reason to celebrate like summer's here, as the city reached its anticipated deal with the state for control of the 172-acre island yesterday. The city will now be responsible for the development and operation of all but 22 acres of the former Coast Guard base purchased for $1 from the federal government in 2003, whose National Parks Service remains responsible for a small historic district on the northern section of the island. This paved the way for the rather quiet unveiling today of the 87-acre final master plan designed by West 8, Rogers Marvel, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Mathews Nielsen, and Urban Design+, which had been under lock in key since last spring, when the proposal was completed but held up by all the fighting over the island's, uh, governance. The thrust of the problem was largely a disagreement about how to best spend dwindling state funds, which led to upstate ambivalence toward the flashy park project—Governors Island almost didn't even open in 2009 after Governor Paterson initially withheld about a third of the $18 million annual operating budget. At the time, the design team had put in more than a year of work, with an expected unveiling in May that never came. In a wide-ranging piece in The New Yorker last August, Nick Paumgarten revealed that the designs had actually been under lock and key since then on the island, and now they've finally been unveiled online at a new-ish site. New-ish because they're are posts dating from May 8, 2009, confirming the presumed unveiling, along with another from April 8, 2010, suggesting that yesterday's announcement may have been worked out in advance, though we had also heard it was a rather abrupt agreement, hence the press conference scheduled for 6 o'clock on a Sunday night. As for the plan itself, in the past it was expected to cost upwards of $100 million to execute, though it will no doubt be higher in the end, plus another $30 million annually to operate, though that money would come from an outside source, quite possibly NYU dorms or biotech labs, though an agreement with the feds stipulates no residential development or casinos. All this for a 40-acres of park land plus the 90-acre historic island to the north, all encompassed in a 2.2-mile promenade. We'll have more to say about the designs in a day or two, but until then you can kick around the aforementioned website, which is almost as impressive as the place itself.