Governors Island is now open for the season, and soon, visitors to the park will be greeted by a brand-new building. The Friends of Governors Island asked an emerging firm to design a Welcome Center—a first for the island—to greet visitors disembarking from the Manhattan ferry. The structure, it said, had to be temporary, made of prefabricated materials, and if need be, the whole had to be designed to be re-erected on a different site. The timeline? Six weeks from concept to completion. "We were designing for that flexibility," said Stephanie Lin, co-founding principal of OFFICE III, a bicoastal architectural collective founded last year by three friends from the Harvard GSD. For this project, Lin, along with principals Ryan Golenberg and Sean Canty, looked to the island's defensive architecture for inspiration. The group was especially taken by the thick-walled Castle Williams, a red sandstone fortification—complete with gun casements—that looms over New York Harbor. Instead of defending itself from intruders, though, OFFICE III's Welcome Center—in keeping with its name—embraces the crowds. "It's almost literally a device for framing and filtering," Lin said. "While the castle keeps people out, the Center is a foil that brings people in." The structure's frank but expressive openness is meant to dialogue with the rolling hills and serpentine paths West 8 designed for Governors Island last year. An information kiosk and a retail cube form the core of the structure, while wood and polycarbonate windows segment a lounge area that provides refuge from the summer sun. With built-in seating, an 800-square-foot wooden deck that unfurls beneath the butterfly roof, and less than a foot of material separating the Welcome Center floor from the lawn below, Lin hopes the kiosk can host events that will flow naturally outside. For all its transparency, the structure isn't light on durability. Last year, more than half a million people visited Governors Island, with an average of 20,000 visitors each weekend. The interior's marine-grade plywood, patterned in radiant diagonals, can withstand wear from tens of thousands of feet, while the exterior panels are finished with resilient cedar decking. The larger panels were fabricated on-site, and the pieces will be reused in upcoming seasons. Formally, a series of two-by-12-inch wood louvers resist vertical loads, while the structural diaphragm (the core) resists lateral loads. In spite of its complexity, the entire building can be disassembled, all panels intact. The team collaborated with Laufs Engineering Design on the structural engineering and enlisted Steffan Elzinga of Wood Mgmt to help with construction. Although Governors Island officially opened yesterday, the Welcome Center will debut later this month. There's another new thing to see on the island, too: Team Aesop, the winner of this year's City of Dreams Pavilion competition, designed a crystalline shade structure from 300,000 melted aluminum cans.
Posts tagged with "The Trust for Governors Island":
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.