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Reawakening the Waterfront
Hudson River Park Development Continues

Reawakening the Waterfront

Two miles of new development of the 500-acre, 4-mile-long Hudson River Park on Manhattan's west side spanning the river's edge from 26th to 59th Streets include the 4.3-acre Pier 84 Upland Park. The first phase of the project that converted decaying piers and parking lots, it is located west of the West Side Highway (Route 9A) between West 43rd and West 46th Streets, and features design work by MKW + Associates, who worked as the lead landscape architect on the project in conjunction with Dattner Architects. The "hook," visible in the foreground was an element of the pier that was lost to history, so it was recreated and includes seating and telescopes.

MKW + Associates, in joint venture with Dattner Architects, led an interdisciplinary team that master-planned and designed two miles of new parkland on Manhattan's west side. The design of Segments 6 and 7 of Hudson River Park, spanning the River's edge from 26th to 59th Streets, created a variety of active and passive recreation spaces, including hard and soft landscapes, upland and pier environments, boathouses and community facilities, and restored and protected native habitat. As the lead landscape architect, MKW's design work comprises three sub-projects: Pier 84, Pier 66, and Clinton Cove Park.

Pier 84 Upland Park, a 4.3-acre parcel located west of the West Side Highway (Route 9A) between West 43rd and West 46th Streets, represents the first phase constructed of Hudson River Park Segment 6. The concept for Pier 84 Upland Park derived mainly from its context, that of a pedestrian-oriented, tourist-saturated urban open space sandwiched between the Intrepid aircraft carrier to the north and the Circle Line cruise boats to the south. Here, a "dry-deck" fountain is the focus to engage passersby and park visitors alike. The fountain jets are arranged in a spiral, echoing the labyrinth paving pattern executed in granite. The jets are programmed to perform various choreographed displays ranging from low-level heights to allow visitor interaction, to heights of 20 feet for celebratory displays.

Reawakening the Waterfront

The Pier 84 play area is surrounded by plantings and consists of granite coping stones that mimic the bulkhead edge. Wood deck bridges, mini piers and pile fields provide access to the many water play features that include a small bucket wheel, a big bucket wheel, a playground pump and a see-saw pump.

Reawakening the Waterfront

Multi-layered plantings of Rudbeckia, Asterand and Cornus, all shrub type dogwoods that provide seeds or fruits, occurs in the habitat area attracting varied species of avifauna. These plantings buffer the waterfront promenade from the adjacent West Side Highway. Hoop benches occur in seating niches along the promenade's length. The light poles and fixtures are the Hudson River Park standard TBTA (Triboro Bridge Tunnel Authority) type and while new and specific to the project and part of the park-wide set of standard vocabulary, they do recall historic NYC light poles and fixtures.

The majority of the pier includes two expanses of paved areas in support of the program of accommodating large groups of park visitors for special events. These areas achieve some level of detail and are made pedestrian-friendly by paving patterns and varying pavement materials such as precast concrete pavers and wood decking. An expansive lawn area separates the paved spaces and, being gently sloped to the south and west, allows park users to relax and sun themselves on a field of softscape. At its westernmost location, a boardwalk "hook" has been provided, recalling the historic element added to the previous pier to allow large passenger ships to turn and tie up to it. This element allows park visitors to travel even further out into the river and includes seating and telescopes for distance viewing up and down the river.

Designed to recall the New York City working waterfront, the play area on Pier 84 is defined by two sweeping curves of granite bulkhead, embracing the water play opportunities located within. The granite stones have been fabricated to the dimensions and configurations of the historic coping stones along the river and also act as seating for the play area's participants. Two river courses flow from high points to low and are fed by spray jets that provide cooling on warm summer days. Along their lengths, small-scale piers and rows of piles support hand water pumps that fill troughs and turn bucket wheels. This pumped water adds further to the river course where other devices allow it to be dammed and released.

Reawakening the Waterfront

The spiral-paved, dry deck fountain on Pier 84 was specified to have cut granite setts (rectangular paving stones) from which programmed fountain jets emerge. Radially-cut granite pieces occur in-between. The jets are choreographed displays ranging from low-level heights to allow visitor interaction, to heights of 20 feet for special displays.

Reawakening the Waterfront

Here, precast concrete seating steps, arranged in an arc, not only provide places to sit, but also allow access to the sloped lawn. The steps are periodically interrupted by precast concrete pedestals supporting COR-TEN steel planters.

A centrally-located wood deck bridge provides an overlook between the two water courses. The play area is buffered from the thoroughfare of the pier by planting beds containing shrubs, perennials, and grasses. Sculptural wood benches are located in the shade of canopy trees and offer comfortable seating.

Clinton Cove Park, a 2.6-acre parcel also located west of the West Side Highway: this time between West 54th and West 57th Streets, represents the first constructed phase of Hudson River Park Segment 7 and the northern terminus of the overall park. The "cove" provides fairly calm water, so the incorporation of a public boathouse and launching ramp was ideally sited at the former Pier 96 location. The large lawn bowl was created by incorporating a planted berm along the West Side Highway, naturally shielding the park from the sight and sounds of the highway and the increasingly bustling adjacent bikeway. Historic granite bulkhead coping stones salvaged from other areas of the park provide informal seating elements within the lawn. Broad sweeping steps connect the raised berm pathway to the esplanade, and the Pier 96 Boathouse Plaza. Canopy trees of red oak, black oak, Skyline Thornless Honey Locust, Sweet Gum and more, provide shade, and ornamental trees provide seasonal color and scale, as do shrubs and perennials. Mounds of ornamental grasses retain steeper portions of the berm and add movement to the park experience as breezes blow along the Hudson.

Reawakening the Waterfront

This is the western end of another part of the project; Pier 66 Upland Park, a 2.5-acre area. Ipe wood decking and benches provide access and seating, and stainless steel railings afford safety throughout. The Pier terminates into a broadened area with a shade structure of a galvanized steel armature with ipe wood slats. Its roof design mimics the roofline geometry of the adjacent boathouse. The lighting is part of the Hudson River Park's park-wide set of lighting selections. The water wheel was created for the project as part of NYC's Percent for Art program. It is entitled Long Time by Paul Ramirez Jonas and rotates in either direction depending on whether the tide is coming in or going out.

Pier 66 Upland Park, a 2.5-acre parcel located west of the West Side Highway between West 26th and West 29th Streets, represents the southern terminus of Segments 6 and 7 of Hudson River Park. This relatively narrow strip of parkland along the river features a granite and bluestone paved esplanade immediately adjacent to the water with access plazas at 26th and 29th Streets. At the southern access plaza, the historic working waterfront is recalled through railroad tracks set into the pavement at Pier 66, which once allowed transfer of rail cars on barges to factories along the west side. The northern access plaza accommodates a public sculpture surrounded by shade trees and offers views across the river. Parkwide lighting, furnishings and railings identify this segment as part of the overall Hudson River Park project.

Unlike other sections of Hudson River Park, this portion includes an intensively-planted habitat area, which also acts as a buffer between the esplanade, the highway traffic and the adjacent bikeway. Multi-level plantings of native trees, shrubs, grasses and groundcovers occur on gently sloped berms to attract resident and migrant birds and insects; fulfilling in part the sanctuary plan established for all of Hudson River Park.

Reawakening the Waterfront

Pier 95 features bluestone pavement on its upper level, and its ramp down to its lower level or "get down" which is covered in ipe wood decking along with benches of the same material.

Reawakening the Waterfront

A third area, Clinton Cove Park, features salvaged granite coping stones from the park's historic bulkhead to provide informal seating on its lawn of approximately 1.3 acres.

Newly-constructed Pier 66 and its boathouse act as a dramatic counterpoint to the linear esplanade and allow park visitors to walk further out into the Hudson. This narrow boardwalk pier is furnished with benches and lighting and terminates into a broadened area with a shade structure, allowing views up and down the river.

All told, Hudson River Park is the longest riverfront park in the U.S. and attracts 17 million visitors each year to its four-mile-long expanse of what once were decaying piers and parking lots but now offers an abundance of recreational and educational activities.

Reawakening the Waterfront

The overall site plan shows the perspective of the three new areas within segments 6 and 7, the final two segments of the longest riverfront park in the U.S., at four miles, with it's northern terminus at Clinton Cove Park.

Hudson River Park - Project Team
Landscape Architecture: MKW + Associates, LLC
Architecture: Dattner Architects
Marine Engineering: DMJM + Harris
Civil Engineering: Munoz Engineering
Structural Engineering: Ysrael A. Seinuk
Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Engineering: Lakhani & Jordan Engineers
Lighting Design: Cosentini Lighting Design
Graphic Design: Lebowitz / Gould Design

As seen in LASN magazine, March 2019.

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August 24, 2019, 2:21 pm PDT

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