2014

MCHAP

Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park

Thomas Baisley Associates & Weiss/Manfredi

Long Island City, USA

August 2013

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Thomas Balsley Associates & WEISS/MANFREDI

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

ARUP (Prime Consultant and Infrastructure Designer) Halcrow (Marine Engineering) Yu & Associates (Environmental Engineer) A.G. Consulting Engineering, PC (MEPFP Engineering) VJ Associates (Cost Estimator) B-A Engineering P.C. (Traffic Engineer) The LiRo Group (Construction Manager)

AUTHOR

New York City Economic Development Corporation

PHOTOGRAPHER

Albert Vecerka Wade Zimmerman

OBJECTIVE

A layered site richly planted with native species provides a multi-use setting for community residents, neighboring school, and visitors. A new multi-use green oval defines the most generously open part of the site and offers views directly across the river to Manhattan. This green anchors the park’s northern precinct and is framed by a continuous path and pleated steel shade canopy which follows the curve of the oval and offers shelter for a water ferry stop and café. The pavilion is conceived as a continuous structure which connects the city with the water’s edge. It is strategically located to support the park’s active and passive recreational uses and provides a legible point of arrival and orientation. The pleated steel design of the canopy captures storm water that nourishes nearby bioswales and provides solar power for the park. The pavilion culminates at the elevated wood pier, with panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and the East River corridor. A walkway surrounding the green will unfurl in Phase 2 into a cantilevered overlook at the southern terminus of the site. This overlook, a 30-foot high cantilevered platform is at once urbane and otherworldly, suspended over a new wetland water’s edge. From this central path, slender walkways extend into off route extensions to the shoreline, connecting new wetlands and habitats for avian and aquatic species. This innovative and integrated design creates a new sustainable strategy that weaves infrastructure, landscape and architecture, bringing the city to the park and the park to the waterfront.

CONTEXT

Hunter’s Point South is envisioned as an international model of urban ecology and a laboratory for innovative sustainable thinking. Recently opened to the public, Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park is phase one of a larger master plan that encompasses the transformation of 30-acres of post-industrial waterfront on the East River in Long Island City and includes the largest affordable housing building project in New York City since the 1970’s. Surrounded by water on three sides, the site is waterfront and city, gateway and sanctuary, blank slate and pentimento. Design leverages the site’s industrial heritage and spectacular views to establish a resilient, multi-layered recreational and cultural destination. Two hundred years ago the site was a series of wetlands. The site’s more recent industrial identity reflects its strategic proximity to waterfront and rail exchange, eliminating all signs of its early ecologically rich history. Today, this legacy presents a paradox—the park design leverages its layered histories and spectacular views to establish a new resilient, multi-layered recreational and cultural destination. Adjacent to a new school and an emerging residential development of 5,000 permanently affordable units, the park provides a public front door and new open spaces for recreation that connect to the surrounding communities. The integrated design weaves together infrastructure, landscape, and architecture to transform a post-industrial waterfront site into new ecological corridors that anticipate the inevitable patterns of flooding and rising water levels along the East River, transforming Hunter’s Point South into both a new cultural and ecological paradigm.

PERFORMANCE

The integrated design weaves together infrastructure, landscape, and architecture to transform a post-industrial waterfront site into new ecological corridors that anticipate the inevitable patterns of flooding and rising water levels. Resiliently designed as a new model for a sustainable urban waterfront, the park survived a four-foot surge during Hurricane Sandy and acted as a protective perimeter for the surrounding community. The design contains a series of parallel perimeter ecologies that link the northern and southern ends of the site, and generate multiple systems of pathways that link the major precincts and programs of the park. Along the water, existing concrete bulk-heads are strategically replaced by new wetlands and paths creating an infrastructural “soft” edge. The intersection between the city and the park is defined by a richly planted bio-swale. The park’s highly irregular perimeter varies widely from slender to broad widths of land between the city and water, calibrating the scale of the program elements throughout the park. Embedded in the new urban plan is a carefully conceived sustainable approach to the smart streets and bikeways integrated into the urban plan of the new waterfront community at Hunter’s Point South. The park represents an integrated ecological system designed to minimize non-renewable power consumption, protect and conserve water, optimize maintenance practices, and create a healthy and productive environment for the city. The community is now able to enjoy a dog run, children’s play area, adult recreation, interpretive rail garden, and an urban beach with views of the Manhattan skyline.