The project design resulted from collaboration between SHoP Architects and landscape architect Ken Smith. Some of the design elements are reminiscent of the High Line, such as the slatted, reclining benches made from ipe wood, but the overall design is quite different. While the High Line is above street level, the Esplanade is located directly below FDR Drive. A functional location, the shade provided by the highway overhead provides a welcomed relief from the hot summer sun.
The design of the esplanade is mindful of the landscape and industrial commerce that originally lined the waterfront, once North America’s largest shipping hub. Many of the bench patterns are inspired by old shipping crates and pallets and a variety of native plant species line the walkway. Serving a double use as a barrier to the water and also a perch, several wooden rails offer just enough space to use as a surface for your laptop, book or lunch. They are lined with bar-like stools that offer a good view of neighboring Brooklyn.
The “look-out” also provides an excellent, unobstructed view of Brooklyn at water level. A series of wide-steps lead down to the water and add another element to the different “levels “of the park. Communal seating options also exist, with several seats arranged in groups of two or four and also individually for those looking for some solitude.
Surrounding the seating are a variety of plant beds filled with native species. The plantings range from upland vegetation to coastal grasses to wild flowers, shrubs and canopy trees. The planter walls also serve as alternative seating options and are lined with stainless steel, meant to keep skateboarders away.
Animals can also enjoy new aspects of the esplanade in the dog park filled with fun, quirky elements. Smith has designed a giant concrete bone, tree and over-sized squirrel. Your pups will also love the climbing bridge, sand pit, splash pad and doghouse.
While only the beginning, the New York City Economic Development Corporation projects that the remaining two parts of the project will be completed by 2013. Phase two, from Broad Street to Old Slip, is expected to be completed by 2012 and the portion from Pike and Allen Streets by 2013. Upon completion, the project will provide an inviting, continuous waterfront experience and restore a missing link in the long-awaited Manhattan Waterfront Greenway.
All images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat