What to do with New York’s Pier 40? The City’s $120 million question
As Londoners debate what to do with Heathrow, which is at near capacity and needs to be expanded or replaced with a new airport elsewhere, New Yorker’s are facing a big decision of their own: What to do with Pier 40 on the City’s West Side. Built in 1958 and envisioned as a major hub for cruise line travel that never came to pass due to the rise in popularity of air travel, Pier 40 was refashioned in 1990s by the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) as a park. It now supports mostly recreational uses, including ball fields, parking for 1,500 cars, and offices for the HRPT.
Currently facing $120m of desperately-needed repairs to keep it from literally crumbling into the Hudson, the Pier urgently needs to be reinvented. The goal is to bring more revenue producing uses to the mix that would be sympathetic to the Park and would make the Pier financially self-supporting, which is especially critical now as the Pier is near broke and as state and city funding for the Park is diminishing and will be eventually withdrawn.
Two proposals for the Pier’s reuse are currently under consideration. One, by WXY Architecture, which has the support of NY State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, proposes luxury housing for the site. A second proposal, by the Durst Organization and Dattner Architects (featured here) is less a grand re-visioning of the site as it is realistic one, as characterized by Daniel Heuberger, AIA, a partner with Dattner Architects and the lead principal for the project.
Heuberger says: “The goal is to find a sympathetic use for the Pier that would be attractive to a developer.” In addition to proposing Tech offices and art galleries for the site, the Durst/ Dattner team has reworked the site and building circulation into a more efficient and compact plan that could support 2,000 cars, 500 more than are currently there now, which Heuberger says is a good thing, as car parking has been Pier 40‘s main source of revenue.
The proposal also addresses the Pier’s crumbling piles, which is estimated to be a $8.8m fix, and it reworks the Pier to be Sandy-proofed. “The goal is to be resilient, robust and to survive the new environmental concerns that effect the New York waterfront”, said Heuberger. Consequently the proposal seeks to relocate critical project infrastructure above storm surge level. The cars however will remain within striking distance. But Heuberger says the strategy for dealing with the cars in the event of a major storm would be to have the on-site attendant move them to higher ground.
The two teams are now presenting their respective proposals to the local community boards. The community is deciding not so much which team to select as they are which idea to embrace for the park’s reuse. The proposals at this stage are preliminary and intended more to learn what is feasible at the site in terms of the programme and the politics.
A second round of RFPs seeking designs for the Pier is anticipated to follow. Heuberger said he hopes that Durst and Dattner will be among the firms considered for that work.
Daniel Heuberger is a design principal at Dattner Architects. He leads design teams through an iterative process in which the essential elements of a project are articulated and defined - then refined, and developed to clear resolution. He is actively engaged in each phase of design, from concept through construction administration to ensure that each project articulates essential ideas and ideals, and reflects the client’s goals and aspirations.