Image courtesy of SCAPE / LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE PLLC
We know what you’re thinking: what is oyster-tecture, anyway? Just ask Kate Orff, landscape architect and the founding principal of SCAPE Studio. SCAPE is a landscape architecture and urban design office based in Manhattan and specializing in urban ecology, site design, and strategic planning. Kate is also an associate professor of architecture and urban design at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she founded the Urban Landscape Lab, which is dedicated to affecting positive social and ecological change in the joint built-natural environment.
But the Living Breakwaters project may be the SCAPE team’s most impactful yet. The “Oyster-tecture” concept was developed as part of the MoMA Rising Currents Exhibition in 2010, with the idea of an oyster hatchery/eco-park in the Gowanus interior that would eventually generate a wave-attenuating reef in the Gowanus Bay. Describing the project as, “a process for generating new cultural and environmental narratives,” Kate envisioned a new “reef culture” functioning both as ecological sanctuary and public recreation space.
Find out more about what oysters and other creatures can do for NYC
Riverbank State Park. Image via Dattner Architects
In a city that moves so fast that the Sunday edition of the New York Times comes out on Saturday, it is not surprising that New Yorkers might overlook some interesting factoids. For instance, New York City is home seven state parks! So, instead of enjoying a day inside other state parks filled with the ubiquitous lush greenery and a plethora of activities that might surely mean a couple of hours of driving—cityside state parks are but a subway ride away or possibly a short walk to the likes of the East River State Park on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, the Clay Pit Ponds State Park in Staten Island and the Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx.
One of the most popular, with its grassy stretches of pastoral idyll against a spectacular backdrop, is the 28-acre Riverbank State Park near 143rd Street (seen in the two images above). A multi-level facility set 69 feet above the Hudson River on Riverside Drive, it opened in 1993. What’s more, this park is the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Inspired by Japan’s urban rooftop designs, it was created on top of a now-odorless sewage treatment facility on the Hudson.
While beloved by tourists, Times Square is easily the most hated destination for those who actually live in New York City. And it’s no wonder: Shoulder to shoulder traffic, blinding lights, costumed (and un-costumed) characters, honking cars, and not a tree in sight—Times Square is pretty much your worst nightmare come to life. But could this congested consumerist hellscape one day become a place “Real New Yorkers” want to visit?
Last year, the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility and vision42 held a competition asking designers and architects to rethink 42nd Street—from the East River to the Hudson River—as a “pedestrian-friendly, auto-free, sustainable boulevard.” 200 submissions were received, and the institute has just announced the four finalists.
See the four finalists here
It’s been relatively quiet over the past six weeks or so as far as news about the proposed offshore park and performance space in the Hudson River known as Pier55. But this week, Community Board 2’s Parks and Waterfront Committee reviewed the project, and though they liked Thomas Heatherwick’s design overall, they cited their main concern as transparency.
The board’s issue stems from the fact that billionaire media mogul Barry Diller, who committed $130 million to the 2.7-acre park, and the Hudson River Park Trust had been working secretively for two years on the plans. According to Curbed, committee member Arthur Schwartz said, “Probably the main public critique of this project has been the way that so much of the design was developed in infinite detail before it even became a matter of public knowledge.”
More on the outcome of the public meeting
It looks like the city is one big step closer to getting its second elevated park. DNA Info reports that the state has just allocated nearly $444,000 to the design of the first phase of the QueensWay, an urban renewal project that would transform 3.5 miles of abandoned elevated railway into a park akin to the High Line. The money was awarded to the Trust for Public Land via Governor Cuomo’s $709.2 million Regional Economic Development Council initiative. The first phase will consist of the design of the “Northern Gateway,” which comprises a 1.5-mile-long stretch starting at Rego Park. The park is set to extend from Rego Park to Ozone Park.
Find out more here
Last week, news broke that billionaire media mogul Barry Diller had been working with the Hudson River Park Trust for the past two years on an idea for an offshore park and performance space in the Hudson River. And though it seemed far-fetched at first, the fact that Diller had personally committed $130 million to the project and that detailed renderings had been created made it see much more plausible.
And now Thomas Heatherwick, the British designer behind the Pier 55 floating park, is opening up about how the decrepit West Side piers inspired his vision for the undulating, landscaped “aquatic High Line.”
Hear what Heatherwick has to say
Influenced by the World Bank’s prediction that the world population will grow to almost 10 billion in the next four decades, and the fact that arable land is scarcest in many of the areas with the highest rates of population growth, the director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology and the architects at Studio Mobile have created the Jellyfish Barge, a floating greenhouse.
At only 229 square feet, the sustainably-made, octagonal Jellyfish Barge can purify salt, brackish, or polluted water using solar energy, thereby acting as a module for crop cultivation that doesn’t rely on soil, fresh water, and chemical energy consumption.
More on the floating green house here
The city was abuzz on Monday when news broke of media mogul Barry Diller’s $130 million pledge to build a $170 million, 2.7-acre floating park off the shore of 14th Street in the Hudson River. The planning and design process had been kept under wraps for over two years, and though the undulating, amoeba-shaped public space seems like a pretty out-there idea, the fact that a prominent billionaire (the single largest private donor to the High Line and husband of Diane von Furstenberg, no less) has committed so much money to the project makes it much more realistic. The media seems divided on whether or not the park, known as Pier 55, will come to fruition, so tell us what you think.
Rendering via Pier55 Inc. and Heatherwick Studio
Floating space in New York’s waterways is not a new concept. Take the +Pool, for example, the public pool proposed for the East River that was recently supported by Kanye West. But a new offshore park proposed for the Hudson River off 14th Street seems exceedingly ambitious, as it would cost $170 million, be located 186 feet off land, and contain wooded nooks and three performance venues including an amphitheater.
Barry Diller, sponsor-to-be of this ambitious plan, gives the project a much more realistic outlook. The billionaire chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, former head of Paramount Pictures and Fox–and husband to Diane von Furstenberg–was the single largest donor to the High Line. He’s pledged $130 million from the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation to make the 2.7-acre park a realty, as well as agreed to run the outdoor space and cover operating expenses for 20 years. He and his wife have starchitect-designed offices in the Meatpacking District and are clearly becoming king and queen of the neighborhood.
More on the futuristic park ahead
Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown, partners of Tsao & McKown, designed a stunning minimalist home in Wainscott, New York–a community planned by Richard Meier. The Sagaponac House was created for a hypothetical client, and due to an alteration to the terrain the home is partially underground. This roots it in the landscape while offering both privacy and openness toward the young forest around it.
Learn more about this half-buried home