We’ve long taken an interest in the fate of Pier 40 (our studio is a few blocks away) and the development of the Hudson River waterfront. We were involved in doing analysis and design in response to the recent air rights transfer across West Street and the funding it brought for vital repairs to the pier. We’d previously offered a proposal for relocation of a portion of the NYU expansion to the site.
We’ve been closely observing the on-going contretemps over Barry Diller’s proposal to build a new entertainment pier on the site of the largely vanished Pier 55 at a project cost of $250 million. While we greatly admire the work of Thomas Heatherwick (the scheme’s imaginative designer), have no issue with generous philanthropy, and ardently wish to see the Hudson River Park become ever more splendid and capacious, we do wonder at the logic of this particular investment in the context of a public space obliged to financially fend for itself and monumentally strapped. More specifically, we wonder whether this enormous investment – and the program it will support – might be directed to a place where it is far more urgently needed and appropriately housed: Pier 40.
Pier 40 has represented a frustrating combination of problem and opportunity for years, somehow stymying all efforts to realize its full public potential. At present, it provides invaluable and beloved sports fields to the community but its primary “service” is as a huge parking lot. This may be a cash cow for the Hudson River Park Trust but it’s surely the least appropriate possible use for such a vast and charismatically-sited facility. Likewise, most of the proposals that have been floated for Pier 40’s renewal over the years have been over-focused on too private styles of reconstruction, on luxury housing or office space rather than on realizing its truly remarkable potential as a scene of pleasure and recreation.
Our idea is simple: invest the $250 million ear-marked for Pier 55 in Pier 40. Build facilities theaters and a park – of exactly the same size and capacity as planned for the uptown site. Then add as much additional fabulousness as possible. The attached sketches show expanded recreational and sports facilities (including indoor tennis courts and gyms and a pool), more theaters and performance spaces (featuring a large amphitheater with a floating stage that might migrate around the city), a vast forested roof-top and sculpture garden, a marina, a complex of waterside restaurants, a school, community offices, a small hotel, ample opportunities for strolling and sitting along the water, and dock space for a variety of ships and boats. The whole might not generate quite the revenue as parked cars but the stream could be ample and the initial subvention would take care of the expense of construction. Thomas Heatherwick would be great choice for architect!
We look forward to the hand-shake between Barry Diller, Douglas Durst, Bill De Blasio, and Andrew Cuomo that seals this win-win deal!
The refugee camp is now considered by many governments and international organizations to be ineffective and even harmful to refugee populations. But the transformation in the spatial strategies to attend to the needs of unsettled populations are under-examined.
Unsettlement is a book project led by Terreform's co-director Deen Sharp, with contributions from architects, social scientists and urbanists, that proposes to address this lacuna.
We welcome our 2017 summer interns: Grace Lee (left) and Sofia Butnaru (center), students at the University of Chicago, join us to work on South Side Stories. Supriya Ambwani (right), a student at Columbia University, is supporting research for Waste Not, the second installment of New York City (Steady) State.
Learn more about them and the rest of the Terreform team at People
Terreform is thrilled to announce the next set of books published by our imprint, UR (Urban Research).
UR was launched in 2016 with the understanding that no single approach is adequate to the promise and problems of the urban; and this second set of books continues our commitment to publish a wide range of designs and analyses. Read more about the forthcoming volumes at urpub.org.
Terreform Research Director, Andrea Johnson, has been invited to speak as part of the Spring 2017 Hearst Lecture Series at Cal Poly's College of Architecture & Environmental Design. Andrea will be presenting Home Grown, the first volume of New York City (Steady) State, on June 2 to the students in San Luis Obispo, California.
Read more about the lecture series on Cal Poly's website.
On April 23rd, Terreform Co-Director Vyjayanthi Rao spoke at Smart Cities?, a conference hosted at The New School and organized by Storefront for Art and Architecture and Het Nieuwe Instituut.
The conference investigated urbanization in the 21st century by unpacking the notion of the 'Smart City' through three panel discussions: Impossible Objects, Political Objects, and Measuring Objects. Dr. Rao spoke in the first.
Watch her presentation below, and read more about the conference on Storefront's website.