Nine years ago, New Yorkers were promised a floating, self-filtering pool on the East River, but all they've gotten so far is a floating light sculpture. Plus Pool Light has been installed, temporarily, in place of Plus Pool—a floating outline one quarter the size of the original proposal, consisting of LED lights that change color depending on water quality. “It’s about having people look at something beautiful and coming here if they want to learn more,” said Archie Lee Coates IV, a partner at New York-based Playlab and a cocreator of the public pool proposal. But, as he also told The New York Times “It’s been incredibly difficult, painful and exhausting,” navigating the red tape and blockades associated with publicly funded projects in NYC. Plus Pool (or +Pool) was conceived in a brainstorming session amongst Coates and his design friends Jeff Franklin, Dong-Ping Wong and Oana Stanescu back in 2010. The concept began with the frustration that New York City residents are constantly within walking distance of water, but live largely cut-off from it. The Hudson and East Rivers remain too polluted for safe swimming, and public beaches often take over an hour to get to. While waterways in several other major metropolises have been cleaned up in the interest of the public as well as tourists, like the Seine in Paris, New York’s rivers have been unswimmable for over 70 years. Plus Pool would use a state-of-the-art filtration system to help people reclaim their rivers for recreational use, and even strengthen campaigns to keep the waters clean. In response to the passing of the Clean Water Act, many liquid assets in NYC were adopted as Superfund sites by the government, but sites like the Gowanus Canal remain in deplorable condition, as the city has yet to adequately update their storm surge systems—a system so inadequate that a 2018 NYT article titled “Please Don’t Flush the Toilet, It’s Raining,” drew viral reactions. All of that intake affects the ecosystem of the East River, and therefore the light show of the Plus Pool Light. When the quality is at an acceptable level, the LEDs shine turquoise-blue, but as sewage and bacteria levels increase, the lights shift to pink. This real-time quality indication comes from data collected by on-site sensors as well as an algorithm developed by researchers at Columbia University and the tech firm Reaktor. While Plus Pool has been compared to other “Instagrammable” public projects like The High Line, this environmentally sensitive project may be more about addressing the physical effects of human degradation of the environment than reclaiming leisure space. The Light installation has already turned public attention towards the water by offering an unflinching visual representation of urban pollution, and in the era of Instagram and visual storytelling, potentially generating more attention for realizing the Plus Pool project. Plus Pool Light will be on view off of Lower Manhattan’s Seaport District until January 3, 2020.
Posts tagged with "East River":
Manhattan’s East River Park, home to sprawling fields, winding bike paths, and a landscaped promenade, was badly damaged when Hurricane Sandy tore through the city in 2012 and the Lower East Side flooded. Since then, New York City officials have been brainstorming ideas to protect the park, along with the remainder of Lower Manhattan, from rising seas. The city’s latest proposal calls for burying the existing East River Park under 10 feet of landfill, before building a new one from scratch, according to The New York Times. This differs from the original plan, which aimed to push back the flood walls from FDR Drive toward the East River along the water’s edge, shielding the highway and large swaths of the LES from rising floodwaters. The meticulously-thought-out design, which took over four years to assemble, was only the first link in a series of barriers around Lower Manhattan known as the “Big U.” In September 2018, with no community input and to the dismay of inner-city residents, the city announced that the entire plan was being rejected in favor of the new project. The new, $1.5 billion proposal is not only significantly more expensive than its $760 million predecessor, but it will also destroy all trees, plant life, and infrastructure that currently exists within East River Park. Both the park’s field house and running track, which was recently revamped at a cost of nearly $3 million, will be buried beneath the soil, while the fate of the site’s historic amphitheater remains unknown. The latest plans will preserve one thing in the area: traffic. To construct the Big U, the city would have had to shut down one lane of FDR Drive every night for five consecutive years. By burying the park with landfill and soil that is delivered by barge, the new plan will cause little to no traffic disruptions. According to the Times, while local residents feel as though they are not receiving a fair trade, Parks Department commissioner Mitchell J. Silver claimed that, with the East River expected to rise over two feet within the next 30 years, burying the existing park to build a more elevated one is the only way to save the land. The new plan is scheduled to launch in March 2020, with flood protection barriers implemented as soon as 2022, though local residents are still doubtful as to whether or not the city will complete the project on time due to its history of construction delays.
+Pool, the initiative launched in 2010 to install a public pool in the East River, is now sponsored by Heineken and recently launched a community involvement website to mark the partnership. Heineken has sponsored similar projects, like James Murphy’s Subway Symphony, through The Cities Project Initiative, a program which aims to bring positive change to urban environments around the world. Despite a highly visible public profile, +Pool has been unable to meet its ambitious timeline, which promised a summer 2016 inauguration with a performance by Beyonce (!?). The organization also missed its much-anticipated deadline in 2013 to build a public mock-up pavilion, however was able to launch a test filtration apparatuses 2014 called Float Lab. The test was active for 6 months and provided critical data for the proper function of the system. This new partnership with Heineken may provide the jolt of activism needed to finally realize the project in full.
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.
New York City will receive $176 million in federal funding for disaster recovery. The funding would be put towards a section of the project extending from the northern portion of Battery Park City to Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side. The money is part of $181 million in funding for recovery projects in New York and New Jersey. The funds came from the National Disaster Resilience Competition, a U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development–sponsored competition to rebuild communities affected by natural disasters, The New York Times reports. The BIG–designed East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (scaled down, but known in former incarnations as the DryLine or the BIG U) calls for sea walls, retractable flood barriers, and grass berms that would double as riverside recreation areas, opening up the waterfront to create a shoreline comparable to the recreation-rich shores of Manhattan's West Side. The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project arose from Rebuild by Design, a 2014 competition to solicit ideas for six large-scale flood protection and resiliency measures in the tristate area. Rebuild by Design awarded New York City $335 million in federal funds for the East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street section. Mayor de Blasio has committed $100 million in capital funding to the project already.
As AN reported, it will be quite difficult for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to pull off his plan to launch a five-borough ferry system. There are, of course, the obvious issues surrounding subsidies, ridership, operators, and dock placement that could all cause major headaches down the road. While the mayor starts charting his path through these details, another potential problem came to the fore: winter weather. https://vimeo.com/119709319 Specifically, a partially frozen East River. Just weeks after de Blasio announced his five-borough ferry plan, Gothamist reported that the East River Ferry had to discontinue service at least once because boats could not make it through the ice. On its website, New York Waterway, which operates the East River Ferry, explained that the river (technically an estuary) is extremely unpredictable over the winter and that conditions can change within minutes. This, it said, can disrupt the schedule and lead to the temporary closure of certain stops. “We hope that you can understand,” it wrote on its site, “and won’t hate us forever.” It is not you we hate, East River Ferry operator, it is this never-ending winter. https://twitter.com/eastriverferry/status/567044595859869696 https://twitter.com/eastriverferry/status/569922481802375168
Wednesday afternoon, AN stepped inside the United Nations Security Council Chamber to see how the global institution had spruced the place up. No, we didn't just walk in there—you can't do that; it's the UN. We were invited by the Royal Norwegian Consulate. Anyway, after a six-year renovation, which was part of the UN's larger Capital Master Plan to renovate the entire East River campus, the truly awe-inspiring space has been returned to its original, mid-century glory. The chamber was gutted, upgraded, and then put back together with a few 21st Century bells and whistles thrown in—out with the ashtrays and in with the outlets! The Security Council Chamber was originally designed by Norwegian architect Arnstein Arneberg and given to the UN as a gift by the Norwegians in 1952. Every aspect of the Security Council Chamber reminds you that it is a Very Important Room. Let’s start with the iconic horseshoe table which is topped with placards and perfectly angled pencils at each seat. A gavel is positioned at the center of the table to mark the acting president's prime spot. Around the ambassadors' seats are the color-coded chairs: blue for advisors, red for member states, and green for visitors and members of the press. The chamber's high walls are covered in a wool Damask wallpaper. If that didn’t drive the point home that this is a Very Important Room, then direct your attention to the massive oil canvas where a phoenix is rising from the ashes. That mural is surrounded by marble. And that marble is bookended by heavy, detailed curtains. Originally, the curtains were left open to provide views of the East River, but since the table is shaped like a horseshoe, light was unevenly distributed on the Security Council members. “The people who were facing East got better seating because the sunlight would stream in and they would look happy,” said Michael Adlerstein, the Assistant Secretary General of the UN and Executive Director of its Capital Master plan. “The other people did not, they were in shadows and looked evil.” The natural light also started causing problems for this new-fangled technology called "television." Ultimately, it was decided to close the curtains and bring in more artificial light. With this recent renovation, the UN set out to make the chamber more energy efficient and increase security measures while not compromising any of the original design elements. To achieve that tricky goal, the space was reduced to its concrete shell, asbestos and contaminates were removed, new heating and cooling systems were installed, and measures were taken to fortify the space against a possible explosion. With all of those improvements in place, the room was reassembled with a few cosmetic changes—seats were reupholstered, marble was washed, the mural was cleaned, and tapestries and fabrics were scrubbed or recreated. Adlerstein said that, at the end of the renovation, the Security Council Chamber hadn't changed "by one iota.” Of course, a lot has changed in recent years, but all of it has been successfully hidden away in this Very Important Room. For more on the renovation, check out the video below the from the Royal Norwegian Consulate General New York
Archtober Building of the Day #17 East 34th Street Ferry Terminal E 35th Street at FDR Drive KVA Matx Public architecture is alive. The 34th Street Ferry Terminal, designed by KVA Architects, integrates structure, social use, the natural environment, and digital technology to realize an architecture that is sensitive and responsive to its surroundings. This approach, called “soft” or “resilient” infrastructure, creates a dynamic civic space in which flows of water, people, and information are manifested in the structure. Inspired by Walt Whitman’s 1900 poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” the design emphasizes the fecundity of the waterfront and the multiple uses of the pier, not only that of the commuter but also that of the wanderer, viewer, or fisherman. Technology accentuates elements of nature so that the commuter might slow down, absorbing the light, water, and the beautiful terminal, before entering or re-entering the city. The project itself required responsiveness and adaptability on behalf of the architects. Over the fourteen years it took to complete the project, the plan underwent radical changes. Originally planning to build an encased glass structure, the terminal is now an open air, cloud-like canopy made of Teflon-coated PTFE and supported by slender triangulated steel columns. One of the flaws of the original pier structure, which they reclaimed, was that it was higher up than the point of entry onto the boats, and required stairs. Creating a second, narrower, and accessible pier opened up the opportunity to frame the water and create a second row of seats for viewing. The architects used this structural obstacle to create a place for visitors to observe and experience the water without standing on the edge of the pier. The reflection from the water within this “frame” creates a dappling, caustic effect on the underbelly of the pier and roof canopy. The steel, undulating walls are perforated to repeat this visual effect, called a moiré pattern. KVA used sensory technology to repeat the naturally occuring beams of light between the building and the water in its LED system. The canopy roof has three “oculi” with LED lights around the perimeter. When people move across the pier, the LEDs light up in a pattern that reflects the pattern of movement, from the east to the west, or west to the east, of both the pier and the oculi. When the tides flow from the north to the south, or from the south to the north (the East River is a tidal strait, not a river), the LEDs brighten in a pattern that reflect the movement of the water at that moment. Whitman’s poem, written in 1900, calls attention to the future of the ferry passage: Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high; A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them, Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood-tide, the falling back to the sea of the ebb-tide.” The project started in 2000, 100 years after the poem was written. Since 2000, development on the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront has proliferated. The structure survived Hurricane Sandy, and can stand up to winds twice that strength. The terminal itself was created through digital fabrication, technology that enabled an undulating, steel structure that could not have been built twenty years ago. Where will the terminal, the ferry system, and the New York City waterfront be in the next 100 years? Board the East River Ferry to the Schaefer Landing-South Williamsburg terminal, located at 440 Kent Avenue at South 10th Street, to arrive at the Building of the Day Tour tomorrow, Navy Green Supportive Housing. Julia Christie is a Public Information Assistant at the Center for Architecture.
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.
For nearly a decade now, New Yorkers have been turning their focus on revitalizing the city's waterfront, a trend that has only grown in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. WXY Architecture’s East River Blueway and Bloomberg’s Vision 2020 are two examples of initiatives that seek to build sustainable, accessible, and engaging shorelines for the city. But with summer approaching and the days heating up, what city dwellers may want most from their estuaries is a cool, clean dip. Brooklyn-based design firms Family Architects and PlayLab hope to make that dream possible, but they still need $250,000 to get started. In two weeks, the group will launch a campaign to create a smaller mock-up of +Pool, the floating, plus sign–shaped pool that could land in the East River by May 2015. The mock-up will test the pool's innovative filtration system that cleans water directly from the river to make it safe enough to swim in. The system would use a three-level filtration system within the pool's walls, which filters the river water, making for a pleasant and healthy immersion. The design of the 9,000-square-foot facility combines an Olympic-length lap pool, kids pool, sports pool, and lounge pool, opening the water park up to all levels of swimmers. +Pool previously raised over $40,000 on Kickstarter and has attracted support from engineering firm Arup, local politicians, and the architectural community. Stay tuned for your chance to dip into your wallet for a dip in the pool!
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] WXY architecture + urban design has a game plan to revive Manhattan's East River waterfront, softening its hard edges with wetlands, beaches, and new pedestrian and cyclist amenities to create a model city based on resilient sustainability and community-driven recreation. AN spoke with WXY principal Claire Weisz about her firm's East River Blueway plan to find out a new waterfront can help New York stand up to the next major storm. Below, slide between the current views of the East River waterfront and the proposed changes under the Blueway plan. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, wetlands will calm the East River's choppy waves and a newly-accessible beach would allow recreational access to the river. Water-filtering tidal pools allow a cleaner option than swimming directly in the East River itself. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Where pedestrian and cyclist paths are crowded against the FDR highway, WXY proposes building elevated platforms to pull away from the highway and make room for a landscaped waterfront. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Beneath the FDR, a tray system holds freshwater marshes that filter rainwater runoff before it enters the saltwater wetland system in the East River. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Stuyvesant Cove just above 14th Street includes more tidal pools and wetlands and a more dramatic network of paths elevated over the water. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] WXY is exploring building a park atop a parking garage on the waterfront and separating motorized and human-powered watercraft on separate piers to minimize conflift. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] A bowtie-shaped pedestrian and cyclist bridge would offer security and flood protection to the power substation that exploded during Hurricane Sandy while greatly improving neighborhood access to the waterfront.
It's been a mild winter so far in New York, and with the first onset of below-freezing temperatures, city folk are donning their heavy jackets and gloves. And while the winds whipping around the glass and steel towers of Manhattan might feel as if it's as cold as it's ever going to be, consider a century ago when temperatures were low enough to freeze the East River from the banks of Brooklyn to the Manhattan waterfront, still two different cities at the time, providing thrill-seeking pedestrians with an instant new crossing years before the Brooklyn Bridge was built. The above view was engraved in 1871 and titled, "Crossing the East River on the Ice Bridge," depicting dozens of New Yorkers walking across what would normally have been a busy maritime thoroughfare. While such a natural feat seams unlikely today, Gothamist has collected clippings to show that the phenomenon was known to occur around once a decade on the East River during the 19th century and there have been reports of similar frozen-river bridges along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers as well. For instance, in 1851, an estimated 15,000 pedestrians, horses, and sleighs crossed the frozen river.