Pier 55 offshore park may be flatter than originally proposed

January 30, 2017

Despite the fact that the 535 concrete piles that will support the planned undulating base of the Pier 55 offshore park have already been erected, the Hudson River Park Trust is now looking towards a flatter design. The Architect’s Newspaper obtained a copy of a permit modification request that the group submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers that reduces the park’s overall size slightly from 2.7 to 2.4 acres and replaces many of the hollow pentagonal pots that would have sat on top of the columns with “a flat structural base sandwiches between the piles and the landscaping.”

Diagrams illustrating the park’s flat space in green. Top: original; Bottom; new proposal

In a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Trust said the changes came about after possible construction partners were wary to bid on the $200 million project due to the “complex fabrication and installation challenges” of the 60-ton pots, causing concern for the group about increased construction costs. According to the drawings submitted, the number of piles will be reduced by 27 and the pots from 202 to 132. Those pots remaining will be around the park’s perimeter; the center will be supported by traditional steel and concrete piles, and the undulating sections will be instead supported by a light foam material.

The City Club of New York, who have been vocally against the park from the beginning and subsequently lost a suit against the Trust in the state Court of Appeals, feel that these changes further support their opposition. President Michael Gruen told the Architect’s Newspaper, “Pier 55 was conceived and sold on the basis of a major sculptural art, so by putting it on a flat base and putting a lace tablecloth around it, the whole thing becomes a parody of itself.” He also contends that a flatter design would reduce the amount of sunlight that can reach the river for at least an hour a day by 36 percent, thereby impacting marine life (the basis of the City Club’s original lawsuit was that the Trust failed to go through adequate environmental impact evaluations about how its construction would potentially wipe out local species such as the American eel and shortnose sturgeon).

Approved plans (L); Proposed (R)

However, in a statement to 6sqft, the Hudson River Park Trust points out that there will be no visible changes to the hills or overall topography. In addition to the statement below, they also sent over a new batch of renderings to illustrate how the undulating form remains.

The Trust has made technical alterations to make the project easier to build, but the topography, landscaping, program and size have not changed. It’s unfortunate but not surprising that the plaintiffs — who have now lost four times in four courts including the highest in the state — are making another desperate attempt to derail a project that has strong support among neighborhoods along the park, Community Board 2, park advocates and prominent civic groups. Construction continues and we’re looking forward to opening this addition to Hudson River Park in 2019.

[Via Architect’s Newspaper]


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