The Challenge

The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is an existing 32-mile bike and pedestrian path that was intended to circumnavigate Manhattan Island. In its present form, there is a "gap" on the East Side from 38th Street to 60th Street where travelers must be redirected onto city streets. This competition sought to "close the gap" by means of a new bike/pedestrian pathway on the river side of the FDR Drive. Since there is almost no land there, the challenge was to invent a way to travel on the water -- somehow.

The Concept

The first step was to understand the "architecture" of the East River. The East River is in fact a tidal estuarine strait, rather than a traditional "river" -- which means that it is a combination of fresh water and brackish salt water rising and falling with the tides. I envisioned a softening of its "hard" edge -- an edge created by the ugly bulkheads of an ever-encroaching steel and concrete city. The submission is entitled Soft-Engineering the East River -- Creating a Living Shoreline. The organizational concept was to construct an artificial reef along the riverbank, as has been done in many locations in this country; however, never along a shoreline in this manner. The reef's surface would be covered with layers carefully designed to create a new wetland marsh. Through and along this marsh would meander a space-framed bridge bike/pedestrian pathway accessed by ramp-to-street connections. As the project site encompasses the riverfront area of the United Nations, I envisioned a unique expression of the path there to form a large curved promenade jutting out into the water -- which would have the additional function of a fishing pier/tourist attraction.

Environmental Impact

This new tidal marsh takes advantage of the estuarine aspect of the East River. My proposal in effect, re-creates the long-lost marshy edges of the strait and is based on extensive research on reefs, marshes, estuaries, and the flora and fauna inhabiting them. The reef/marsh would also perform vital environmental functions such as providing a filtration system for urban storm water runoff, creating a storm buffer for wave surges, improving the quality of river water/sediment, and expanding habitat for fish, crustaceans, and birds by 23 acres.

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ARTIFICIAL
REEFS


CLOSE THE GAP   Competition co-sponsored by d3space.org and Transportation Alternatives. 2011   [SLIDESHOW]


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