Posts tagged with "East River Esplanade":

Mayor de Blasio unveils new East River esplanade

The Hudson River Greenway will soon meet its other half. Mayor Bill de Blasio has confirmed plans to extend the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway along the East River between 61st and 53rd Street. The Greenway has been in development since 1993 and connects the majority of Manhattan’s waterfront with pedestrian and bike paths. The last upgrade connected two legs along the Hudson River Greenway between West 81st and 91st streets and it is now the busiest bikeway in the U.S., according to the Mayor’s Office press release and an article in USA Today. The Mayor has allocated $100 million in City capital for the project in the Mayor’s Executive Budget, the entirety of which will be announced April 26. “The Hudson River Greenway has vastly improved quality of life on the West Side, and we want families in every corner in the borough to have that same access to bike, walk, and play along the water,” said Mayor de Blasio in a press release. “This is the first of many big investments we’ll make as we bring the full Greenway to reality.” Along with the new esplanade, the Mayor has also set aside $5 million to conduct studies of other sections of the Greenway that have yet to be connected to the main loop. As cycling continues to grow in popularity as both a leisure activity and viable form of commuting, the City continues to push for a completed 32-mile Greenway, which would encircle the entire island of Manhattan. When asked whether the city would hire an architect for the esplanade, the Mayor's Press Office said the city was still assessing the best approach to the project. For the time being, the new esplanade is moving into the design phase and is expected to be open and ready for cyclers, runners, and walkers alike in 2022.

With $8 Million in Funding, East River Blueway Prepares to Transform Brooklyn Bridge Beach

Last week, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced an $8 million achievement of capital funding for the East River Blueway proposal for redevelopment of the Brooklyn Bridge Beach. The proposal, set by President Stringer and Assemblyman Kavanagh in collaboration with WXY architecture + urban design, will redesign and improve the stretch of East River greenway in Lower Manhattan from East 38th Street to the Brooklyn Bridge. At a press conference on the esplanade underneath the bridge itself, Council Speaker Quinn declared that the City Council of New York had matched Borough President Stringer’s $3.5 million allocation, realizing their $7 million monetary goal for the creation of salt marshes, access to the natural beach, an improved esplanade, and reconstruction of piers for fishing and boating in the 11,000 square foot area they call Brooklyn Bridge Beach. The officials also announced that Council Member Dan Gardonik provided an additional $1 million in funding to go toward the construction of a kayak and canoe launch on the East River at Stuyvesant Cove, which stretches from East 18th to East 23rd Streets. "New York has always been a city of water, and this project will re-connect us to one of our greatest resources," Council Speaker Quinn said in a statement. "The waterfront is an asset to New York City—we must embrace it." These plans, however, are only a small part of the extensive, 82-page East River Blueway proposal. As Stephen Miller of Streetsblog points out, the conference presented no specific plan for development besides the previous WXY conceptual renderings, no timeline for construction, and no indication of the cost of the entire project. Several companies are attempting work along the same East River front in hopes that a continuous greenway is achieved. Mayor Bloomberg's "Seaport City," a Manhattan landfill extension on levees planned as protection from storms similar to Hurricane Sandy, is proposed adjacent to Brooklyn Bridge Beach but Borough President Stringer avoided the question when asked to comment.

SHoP and Ken Smith Unveil Another Piece of the East River Esplanade

Connecting two existing waterfronts—Battery Park and East River Park—the rehabilitation of the East River Esplanade has been a catalyst of renewal along Manhattan's East River. The latest phase of the plan—by SHoP Architects and Ken Smith Workshop—extends the current three-block-long Esplanade north, adding recreational amenities and addresses the challenges of building a new landscape beneath an elevated highway between Catherine Slip and Pike Slip in Lower Manhattan.. The so-called "Package 4" aims to create a "front porch" for the Lower East Side by introducing new street furniture such as conversation benches, bar stools, lounge chairs, picnic tables, and swing sets hanging from the FDR highway overpass. The new plan also includes the prospective installation of amenities such as elevated exercise platforms, a skate park, games tables, a synthetic turf field, waterfront fishing docks, and multiple bike paths. The project’s designers wish to integrate a significant amount of perspective and dimension on the site by conserving already-existing open lawns, installing light fixtures under the FDR highway overpass, building multi-leveled seating and benches, and planting a diversity of foliage. Pending approval from the New York City Council and City Planning, the project should be complete by Spring 2015.

Slideshow> SHoP’s Pier 15 Opens to Public

Before all eyes and ears were focused on the mayor's announcement about Cornell and their EDC project upriver, AN was downtown for a much quieter opening of yet another EDC project. Without fanfare, the SHoP-designed Pier 15 opened to the public today. With the exception of another photographer and a family visiting from Spain, we were the only ones at the pier when the security guard unhooked the chain. Across from Maiden Lane, the new pier is an exercise in restraint with two reflective glass pavilions supporting the top half of a bi-level pier. Once common in the Victorian era, bi-level piers are rare today. The upper-level of this pier sports three small rolling lawns, slightly arched in profile, that overlook the East River. The pier adds 50,000 square feet of public space to the East River Waterfront Esplanade. The project, a joint effort with City Planning, stretches from the Battery Park Maritime Building (the Governors Island ferry) to Pier 35,  just north of the Brooklyn Bridge. Of the two lower level pavilions, one will become a restaurant, to be run by the same company that operates as a smaller restaurant nearby in a pavilion on the East River Esplanade. The second lower level pavilion will accommodate a maritime museum. The RFP for the restaurant and marina have yet to be announced. With the work complete, South Street Seaport's Pier 17 appears all the more needy. As AN's Eavesdrop column reported back in July, the city is still in the midst of negotiations with the Howard Hughes Corporation to revamp the dated pier/mall.  SHoP's Gregg Pasquarelli recently told New York magazine that the firm relishes tackling the next stop north.      

AN Video> Esplanade Walk-Through with Amanda Burden

On Thursday, the East River Waterfront Esplanade officially opened to the public. Last week, while the paint on the new bike lanes was still drying, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden took AN on a walk through of the first section.  The commissioner barely contained her excitement while showing off design details by landscape architect Ken Smith and SHoP Architects. Follow the commissioner as she takes us through the dog run and points out clever details like the "Get-Downs,"  the riverside bar stools,  and "seat walls."

The Scenic Route: NYC from the East River Ferry

We tried the new East River Ferry service this week and found some of the best views of the biggest projects in town.  Though many of the renderings in circulation for developments like Domino Sugar Factory and Hunters Point show views from the river-front perspective, it's rare that you actually get to see the sites from that angle--until now. We decided to give the ferry service a test-run to check out the viability of getting from an office in downtown Manhattan, such as ours on Murray Street, to Brooklyn and Queens, then completed the loop by heading back the 34th Street terminal. Taking the MTA bus meant a series of transfers and the subway was about five blocks away from the pier, so we opted to take the Downtown Alliance's Downtown Connection, a free service that loops around the southern tip of the island and drops you right off at Wall Street a block from Pier 11. At the corner of Governeur Lane and Front Street the Korilla BBQ truck beckoned, but the long line of Wall Streeters discouraged us. The boat was waiting when we got there and left the dock in about ten minutes. Within about ten more minutes we were docking at Brooklyn Bridge Park and were on our way to four more stops before landing at 34th Street. There, the ferry service runs a free bus loop to Sixth Avenue which wasn't there when we arrived, so we hopped on the M34, transferred and was back in the office in an hour and half from our starting point.

AAF Says Brava to Burden with Keystone Award

Last weekend in Washington, D.C. the American Architecture Foundation (AAF) presented New York City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden with its 2011 Keystone Award. The annual accolade is bestowed upon an individual or organization from outside the architectural discipline for exemplary leadership in design, specifically design efforts focused on improving lives and transforming communities. Burden, who has served as chair of the City Planning Commission and director of the Department of City Planning since 2002, recently returned from travels abroad, and AN caught up with her just before the awards ceremony to hear what she thinks New York can learn from cities like Barcelona and other street smarts. “To be a dynamic, competitive global city, you have to grow and attract both talent and investment. It’s not just about architecture, but public space and the design of the streetscape. It comes down to how the city feels at street level. It has to be walkable and human scale, with trees, amenities, and vitality,” said Burden. “Barcelona, for example, is a city that is doing this brilliantly. Its mayors and its urban design prioritize the primacy of the public realm.” Over the past few decades Barcelona has enlivened its public plazas with sculpture and painting of both Spanish and foreign artists. Burden’s curbside view stands in contrast to that of her most (in)famous predecessor, Robert Moses, who, ruled planning in New York City from the mid-1930s through the mid-1960s. “In that era, there was emphasis on large-scale connectivity. Design plans were drawn from a helicopter range, 400 or 500 feet in the air. But you have to go from the grand scale down to the neighborhood, the pedestrian scale, and even think about the speed at which pedestrians walk,” said Burden. Burden cites the redesign of Columbus Circle as successful public space in the city, noting its variety of seating, and she is eagerly anticipating the completion of the East River Esplanade (see more on SHoP’s plans here), where park-goers will have seating options galore: they can stretch out on lawns, sunbathe on chaise lounges, or contemplate river currents from bar seating and swings at the waters edge. Thinking of traffic in terms of people, rather than cars, is something Burden attributes to her mentor William H. ("Holly") Whyte, the urbanist and journalist known for his seminal studies of how people use urban public spaces. Whyte, who died in 1999, the same the year the AAF founded the Keystone Awards, surely would have been a contender for the honor himself. Since 1999,  Keystone Award recipients include Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. of Charleston, S.C., the Museum of Modern Art, Save America’s Treasures, and the Pritzker Family of Chicago.