Article source: THOMAS BALSLEY ASSOCIATES
Opening at the end of the summer, Hunters Point South Waterfront Park is phase one of a larger master plan that encompasses the transformation of 29 acres of postindustrial 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.
- Architects: THOMAS BALSLEY ASSOCIATES
- Project: Hunters Point South Waterfront Park
- Location: Long Island City, New York
- Photography: Albert Vecerka Esto, Wade Zimmerman
- Client: New York City Economic Development Corporation Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development
- Park Designers: Thomas Balsley Associates, WEISS, MANFREDI
- Prime Consultant and Infrastructure Designer: ARUP
- Project Team: Arup, Prime Consultant, Civil, Structural Engineer and Lighting Design, E-Design Dynamics, Ecological Systems and Restoration Ecologist, Halcrow, Marine Engineering, Karyn Olivier, Public Art, A.G. Consulting Engineering, P.C., MEPFP Engineering, Yu & Associates, Environmental Engineer, VJ Associates, Cost Estimator, B-A Engineering, P.C., Traffic Engineer, Two Twelve, Graphic Designer, AKRF, Historical Researcher, The Liro Group, Resident Engineer
- Park: 11 acres
- Pavilion: 12,000 sf
Surrounded by water on three sides, Hunters Point South is a new model of urban ecology and a laboratory for innovative sustainable design. The park and open space is a design collaboration between Thomas Balsley Associates and WEISS/MANFREDI with ARUP as the prime consultant and infrastructure designer.
The site is waterfront and city, gateway and sanctuary, blank slate and pentimento. Design ‘leverage the site’s industrial heritage and spectacular views to establish a resilient, multi-layered recreational and cultural destination. Adjacent to a future school and an emerging residential development of 5,000 permanently affordable units, the park will provide 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 Hunters Point South into both a new cultural and ecological paradigm.
A Sustainable Waterfront: Hunters Point South Waterfront Park has evolved from a marshy wetland to a drained landfill site and from a soft shoreline to an armored water’s edge. The design incorporates numerous green initiatives, transforming a critically located but abandoned waterfront into a new urban ecological paradigm.The essence of the park is a technological and ecological system implemented to minimize non-renewable power consumption, protect and conserve water, optimize maintenance and operational practices, and create a healthy and productive environment for the community and the city.
Upland Context: Embedded in the new urban plan is a carefully conceived sustainable approach to the smart streets, bioswales and bikeways of the new community at Hunters Point South. Placed along the park’s, edge, a bioswale filters stormwater from the Center Blvd. and the upland smart streets. Each upland street enjoys the park and skyline views and terminates on park vestibule entrances that have been outfitted with banquette seating.
Green Oval: A new multi-use green oval defines the most generously open part of the site and offers views directly across the river tp Manhattan. This green anchors the park’s north precinct and is framed by a continuous path and pleated steel shade canopy on the south side which follows the curve of the oval and offers shelter for a water ferry stop and concession building.
Pathways: The path that surrounds the central green unfurls into a promenade leading to an overlook at the southern terminus of the site. This overlook, a 30-foot high cantilevered platform with views of the Manhattan skyline and the East River, is at once urbane and otherworldly, bringing the city to a precipice suspended over a new wetland water’s edge. From the central promenade path, existing concrete bulk-heads are strategically replaced by new wetlands and pathways that link the major precincts and programs of the park. This path system extends to the water’s edge and forms part of the “soft” edge
infrastructure, while also providing a new landmark and destination that draws the community to the waterfront.
Pavilion: 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 Pavilion is divided into two buildings under one continuous canopy. It includes a maintenance and
operations facility for the Department of Parks and Recreations, comfort stations, a concession building, and a raised café plaza. The Pavilion culminates at the elevated wood pier, with panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and the East River corridor.
The folded plate shade structure recalls the maritime history of Hunters Point and is optimized to capture storm water and solar power. 64 Photovoltaic panels located on the south face of the steel pleats generate 37,000 kWh per year, powering over 50% of the entire park. The design can accommodate additional panels to power 100% of the park in the future. The folded plates also collect storm water which nourishes nearby bioswales. A richly textured brushed metal surface drapes across the outer edge of the sweep along the Green sweep, and reflects the activity at the Green and the general landscape.
Urban Beach: Framed by the pavilion and park path, an urban beach hosts sunning, picnicking and beach volleyball along the edge of the promenade. Here, visitors will sink their toes in the sand and take in a unique beach sunset setting over the Manhattan skyline.
Garden: Framed by the urban dog run and play area at the 51st Avenue vestibule, native grasses envelop freight rails to compose an interpretive rail garden narrative. A cross path weaves through to a small central plaza animated with water jets and the interaction they attract.
Urban Dog Run: As a relatively new component of the 21st century urban park, the dog run has proven its long term social sustainability worth. With its distinctive water rill, stacked timber seats that recall an earlier lumberyard and animated shelter which has taken its cues from the pavilion, this dogscape has elevated the fun of dog ownership.
Play Area: Resting on a tree shaded shelf above the promenade and surrounded by native grasses, the play area promises to be the center of family activity for the park. Here at the edge of the East River an ensemble of play venues for all ages ranges from basketball and adult fitness to a children’s play with lawn mound and water play channel.
ABOUT THOMAS BALSLEY ASSOCIATES
Thomas Balsley Associates is a NYC based landscape architecture and urban design practice with a portfolio of award winning work throughout the United States and abroad. The firm is best known for its innovative fusion of environmental sustainability and landscape urbanism. Projects such as Chelsea Waterside Park, Gantry Plaza Park and Riverside Park in NY, Dallas’ Main Street Garden, Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park, and Baltimore’s West Shoe Park exemplify the transformative power of public space. The firm has recently won the international competitions for Seoul’s Magok Waterfront and Shangai’s SIPG Harbor Center as well as numerous awards and citations from ASLA, AIA, and EDRA. Tom Balsley lectures and teaches extensively at many civic, design and academic institutions, including Harvard GSD and UPenn School of Design. Spacemaker press devoted a monograph to his work entitled ” Thomas Balsley: The Urban Landscape.”
ABOUT WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
WEISS / MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism is a multidisciplinary design practice based in New York City. Founded by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, the firm is known for the dynamic integration of architecture, art, infrastructure, and landscape design. The firm’s products, including the seattle Art Musem: Olympic Sculpture Park, the Barnard College Diana Center, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cementry, and projects in East Africa, exemplify the potential of architecture to transform public space. The firm recently won the national competition to redesign the Sylvan Outdoor Theater at the Washington Monument Grounds on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and won the international competition for Korea’s Taekwondo Park in 2008. WEISS/MANFREDI has won numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the International VR Green Prize for Urban Design. They have also been named one of North America’s “Emerging Voices” by the Architectural League of New York, and received the New York City AIA Gold Medal of Honor. Michael Manfredi has been the Gensler Visiting Professor at Cornell University and Marion Weiss is the Graham Chair Professor of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.