This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Today, Archtober went on a hard hat tour of Bronx River House designed by Kiss + Cathcart with landscape design by Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners. Situated on the Bronx River, access to the site is currently from a service road; when the project is completed, it will open into Starlight Park on the Bronx River Greenway. Though the project has been in the works for over ten years, it is expected to officially open in January 2018, with a full program activating the site sometime after that. The Bronx River House is the result of a public-private partnership between the Bronx River Alliance and numerous government agencies, primarily the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Since 2001, the Bronx River Alliance has been bringing attention to the recreational possibilities of the Bronx River and working to make the Bronx River Greenway a reality through educational and recreational programs. When Bronx River House opens, it will serve as the headquarters for the offices of the Bronx River Alliance, as well as a community space for locals and park visitors. The Bronx River House is a single-story structure, approximately 7,000 square feet in area, that will contain multiple programs. Surrounding the main structure, a metal mesh screen wall will serve as a security measure and support greenery. Within the building, the Alliance will have space for around 25 desks in addition to a boathouse, which has room for 20 or more canoes. These are used for river restoration, clean-up, and recreational tours. Public spaces will include a multipurpose room and a classroom that will face onto a public plaza that directly connects to Starlight Park. Our tour was led by Gregory Kiss of Kiss + Cathcart, who highlighted the design decisions they made to integrate the building into its setting. Less visible decisions include rainwater collection through the structure’s roof and plazas, geothermal heating and cooling systems, and solar energy panels that will allow the building to run on nearly 100% solar energy on a net basis. Perhaps most exciting are the plans to integrate plants and other greenery into the design of the building. The metal screen surrounding the building will be planted with an array of vines that will provide shade in the summer and allow light through in the winter. Kiss explained that the hope is that the main building will eventually be covered in moss. Because the cultivation of moss on vertical surfaces is still experimental, they will start with a 300-square-foot area. A drip irrigation system using collected rainwater will be added to the shingles on the façade to support the moss. Kiss stated that his intention with the vines and moss is to create a forest-like micro-climate that further integrates the building into the surrounding park. We definitely look forward to visiting again when the building opens to the public. Claudia Ibaven of the Bronx River Alliance, who joined us on our tour, reminded us to keep an eye on the Alliance’s website for announcements on when that will be. Join us tomorrow at ISSUE Project Room. By Berit Hoff
Posts tagged with "Bronx River Greenway":
The City of New York is closing a critical gap in the Bronx's longest greenway. The multiphase initiative to extend the Bronx River Greenway, an eight-mile network of parks and trails that runs through the borough and into Westchester County, will target missing links in the park's South Bronx section. At a groundbreaking for the next phases of the greenway last week, city officials detailed plans to restore the Bronx River shoreline, lengthen Starlight Park, and close a large gap in the greenway. The project's first phase will attempt to increase the Bronx's resilience to storms and flooding by naturalizing shorelines now fortified with artificial barriers and restoring wetlands. Phase two will knit existing but unconnected park parcels together, and connect Starlight and Concrete Plant Park with walking paths and bridges: One bridge will cross Amtrak lines at East 172nd Street, and the other will sit over the Bronx River, a southern extension of Starlight Park to Westchester Avenue. “The Bronx River Greenway provides the unique opportunity to walk, jog, run or ride a bike along the only freshwater river in New York City,” said NYC Parks commissioner Mitchell J. Silver in a statement. “Through the collaboration of our partners at the Bronx River Alliance, our elected officials, and community stakeholders, we’ve made a tremendous investment in restoring theBronx River and creating new opportunities for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods. This project will only serve to push forward the goals of our continued efforts.” The project is the result of partnerships between myriad local, state and federal agencies, including the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. Locally, the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) is managing the project for the Parks Department, while New York–based NV5 (formerly the RBA Group) is the design consultant. The project has considerable financial backing. Mayor Bill de Blasio has put $12 million towards phase one, with an additional $4.4 million from the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program, a federally funded program administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. In addition to several under-a-million contributions from local representatives, phase two will be funded by a $10 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and congressman José E. Serrano's $4 million allocation.
As of October 27th, the Bronx River Greenway is one mile closer to completion. The United States Department of Transportation awarded a $10 million TIGER grant to the city to build three bridges and a three-quarter mile path connecting the South Bronx's Concrete Plant Park with nearby Starlight Park. Though modest in scale, the grant adds momentum to the decades-long movement to green one of the most industrial areas in the borough. Two of the bridges will be built over the Bronx River—one near Westchester Avenues and the other adjacent to 172nd Street. The third bridge will be laid over Amtrak rail lines at East 172nd Street. When this critical link is complete, cyclists and pedestrians will be able to enjoy 1.8 miles of trails along the river, from East 177th Street to Bruckner Boulevard. Currently, recreation-seeking Bronxites who wish to travel between the two parks face a daunting and dangerous trek across a Sheridan Expressway access ramp. The New York State Department of Transportation committed funds to the project in 2008, but the DOT had to negotiate usage rights with Amtrak. The Acela runs adjacent to the Bronx River, in between the two parks. In total, the project is estimated to cost between $29 and $32 million. Federal, state, and local governments, as well as nonprofits, have pledged $12 million towards the project, in addition to the TIGER grant. Still, there is $7 to $10 million dollar funding gap for the project. Construction will begin June 2016 and be complete by 2020.