First Look: Pier 26

At last night’s meeting of the Community Board 1 Tribeca Committee, the Hudson River Park Trust presented an initial plan for Pier 26, the unfinished pier between N. Moore and Hubert. They called it a “concept design,” but they also said that they’re hopeful construction will start a year from now, so must mean this design is pretty far along. “We have all the money for this, and I don’t get to say that very often,” said HRPT president Madelyn Wils. The city, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, and Citigroup each contributed $10 million. “What does Citi get out of this, if naming rights aren’t an option?” asked a committee member after the meeting. We shall see….

Before we get into it, bear in mind that the presentation did not include the estuarium building, shown in the rendering below as a placeholder on stilts in the upper left corner; most of the pier is being designed by Olin Studio, but that building will be by Viñoly. My sense is that the more granular you get about the design, the less likely it is to be firm; the big takeaway here is how the pier will be carved up and used. (All of the visuals here are by Olin Studio.)

Rendering by Olin StudioThe pier can be thought of as divided into sections.

An elevation:

The River Esplanade (which rises as you head west, and then loops back under itself). At its peak, the elevated walkway is 12-16 feet above the water, depending on the water level.

The first part of the esplanade passes through a Forest Walk area. For each of these areas, the presentation included a diagram slide (with an inset photo meant to show the inspiration, not the finished look), followed by a rendering or two:

The Lounge Deck and Estuary Lounge Steps:

For the Lounge Nets and Play Nets, they’re looking at a metal mesh that would be open to the water below (but realizing they may have to add a fine net underneath, for cell phones and other lost property). The blue rings are for seating.

They were excited about the view toward 1 World Trade Center, but it seems like what you can already see from Pier 25.

The tip, where the walkway dips down and around the net.

The elevation shows it more clearly:

They’re hoping to create a wetlands at the end, on the water, but it will require approvals from many other organizations and agencies.

The Dune Scrub, on the south side, will be fairly dry landscaping. The open-sided structures are for sitting in—perhaps swings, or just boxes:

And there’s a trapezoidal lawn, meant to be used for various activities or just lounging:

An aerial (not sure why this was in the middle of the presentation, but it’s interesting):

The recreation fields, which will probably be made with interlocking rubber pieces:

The evacuation route, which affects where things can be laid out:

The Estuarium Play area:

An aerial from the south:

And that’s it. I need to run out for a bit, but I’ll go through my notes again when I’m back to see if I missed anything.

UPDATE: A few items of note….

1. Access to the boats docking on the north side, including the Clearwater (which hosts educational programs), will be on a level below the elevated esplanade. The Downtown Boathouse is not happy about having to cope with boats near its kayaking area, and Mary Habstritt of the Lilac, on Pier 25, noted that many boats sit too low in the water near the pier, which is only eight to ten feet deep. (“We’re often siting in the mud,” she said.)

2. There will probably be interpretive signage about the estuary.

3. A committee member asked the HRPT’s Madelyn Wils whether there were any plans to sell the pier’s air rights, but there are currently no properties in Community Board 1 that could legally buy them. That “currently” is important: Another committee member pointed out that the BMCC complex is not currently zoned at all, and if that changed, the air rights could make a massive project even bigger. Wils said that were such a development to happen, the Trust would prefer to benefit from it (versus not benefiting at all).