55th Annual P/A Awards:
For years, one of the only ways that Manhattanites could interact with the East River waterfront has been to look down on it from the deck of the Brooklyn Bridge. New York's East River Waterfront Esplanade and Piers project is seeking to change that by opening a two-mile-long stretch of riverfront property spanning from Battery Park north to the East River Park. The program calls for the revitalization of defunct piers, a series of pavilions to provide services to the new development's visitors, and better regulated and more-accessible seating areas. These spaces can be used to foster community and maritime activities and will reopen to the public real estate that has been lost to shortsighted city planning and deferred maintenance. “I think that they're doing something really important for New York City,” said juror Karen Van Lengen.
The concept is to create a true urban park that embraces the site's history as a series of working piers and to integrate green space with all of the anomalies of a crowded urban fabric. Pavilions nestled under the elevated sections of FDR Drive (which hugs the waterline) will house cultural, community, and commercial programs, including a pool, meeting spaces, and stores that will be open year-round. The esplanade will be revamped with benches and furniture, new paving, plantings, lighting, and railings. Plans for Pier 15 at the end of Maiden Lane include a structure with community space on the pier itself—topped by a roof garden with trees and other plantings to allow visitors to sit surrounded by water—and commercial stalls and shops along the esplanade. It is the respect for the river that impressed juror Thomas Phifer. “It's interesting how some parts of the project really do participate in the tides and the river,” he said.
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