CIVITAS, the organizer of the Reimagining the Waterfront, has announced the winners of the ideas competition for the design of the East River Esplanade between 60th and 125th in New York City bound by the East River to the East and the FDR Drive to the west. Joseph Wood of New Jersey, USA; Takuma Ono and Darina Zlateva of New York City, USA and Matteo Rossetti of Italy claimed first, second and third prize respectively. The competition aspires to bring to new and fresh ideas to the conversation about this waterfront, which over the years has had many issues of disrepair. Anyone who has attempted to bike down this path can appeal to just how unpleasant it can be – massive potholes that take up the whole path, traffic rushing by just a foot away just beyond a shoulder (which is not provided everywhere) and cobbled paths that create a bumpy ride. The proximity to the East River, and the views of Randall’s Island, Queens, Roosevelt Island and the Queensboro Bridge are its saving grace.
There have already been many talks about the state of the East River Esplanade, particularly that it stops abruptly at East 53rd street at the foot of the Queensboro Bridge and starts up again around East 38th street. Last summer MAS, an organization in NYC that advocates for intelligent urban planning, design and preservation, hosted a day-long charette to design an esplanade along the ConEd piers located between East 38th and East 41st Streets. MAS appealed to the community for ideas for “The Next Great NYC Waterfront” and worked alongside W Architecture and Landscape Architecture to produce a report, which can be found here. With CIVITAS’s competition, the issues are again acknowledged to continue brainstorming the future of the waterfront.
The Architect’s Newspaper reviewed the competition winners in an article by Tom Stoelker, which are imaginative and considered. The proposals of the winners and honorable mentions will be exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York between June 6th and September 2012 which will give the public access to some possibilities for the future of the East River Esplanade.
Join us after the break for more on the proposals.
The proposals that were selected varied greatly and took advantage of the creativity that the competition brief called for. The first and second prize winners embraced the waterfront and allowed the design to be defined by the way in which the waterfront interacts with the rest of Manhattan. In Joseph Wood’s first place proposal, the East River Esplanade expands into the interior streets of Manhattan, consuming roads and transforming them into canals where the Upper East Side can connect with East Harlem. In Wood’s renderings, the walkways are filled with lush plant life that seeps into the river as well. Stoelker writes that the technical details and the politics of these design moves were not discussed, but the intention of the proposal hit the mark in eliciting the kinds of ideas that the competition wanted to provoke.
Second place team, Takuma Ono and Darina Zlateva of New York City, USA presented a design that expanded its influence into the actual river. Boardwalks project over the water. The inspiration, Ono says according to Stoelker’s article, were historical maps that allow the design to go beyond what we see and experience in the present. Ono’s team used maps that showed the geography of the past in order to inform how to develop “the rubble” of the present.
Third Place winner Matteo Rossetti from Italy took a slightly different approach. The proposal is a step that is midway between the present and what the future East River Esplanade entails. The park is essentially a billboard or stage for ideas that residents and users want to project onto the site. The imagery from Rossetti’s proposal shows the visual identity of ideas making their way into the infrastructure of the park. The park is filled with survey stations that would gather this information.
Honorable mention winners include Gerard Cadger and Xenia Semeniuk of Canada, David Elzer of Virginia, USA, Nestor Lebron Gonzalez of Puerto Rico, Jorge Manuel Lopez Lopez of Spain and Vincenzo Marcella of Italy. Their work will also be presented at the Museum of the City of New York.
Reimagining the Waterfront Jury:
- Al Butzel, Principal of Albert K. Butzel Law Offices
- Warren James, Principal of Warren A. James Architects + Planners
- Hon. William Castro, Manhattan Borough Commissioner of NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
- Signe Nielsen, FASLA Principal of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects
- Rob Rogers, FAIA, Partner of Rogers Marvel Architects
- Jack Travis, FAIA, Principal of Jack Travis Architects
- Billie Tsien, AIA, Principal of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
- Adam Yarinsky, FAIA LEED AP, Principal & Co-Founder of Architecture Research Office