The Hudson River Park stretches from Battery Park City at the southern tip of Manhattan to West 59th Street. This transformation of the island’s industrial waterfront and its many piers into recreational parkland features a number of new structures, including these four structures west of Tribeca. WXY Architecture + Urban Design answered some questions about the latest additions to the linear park.
Miniature golf and snack bar, facing west
Can you describe your design process for the building?
Each of the four structures – miniature golf, skateboarding, boathouse and restaurant, and utility shed – draws upon the rich history of marine structures and garages along the Hudson. The simple form of the garage is reinterpreted with sculptural gestures using scale shifts to imbue a sense of playfulness, and broad overhangs for shade and shelter from the elements. The buildings further share a material palette of zinc, with a base of glazed brick coded in different colors for each building.
Miniature golf and snack bar
How does the completed building compare to the project as designed? Were there any dramatic changes between the two and/or lessons learned during construction?
The buildings are actually quite close to our original designs – the only major challenges were increasing the size of the buildings as the client’s needs changed.
Skateboarding facility and comfort station, facing south
How does the building compare to other projects in your office, be it the same or other building types?
While we take on various types of projects, HRPT (Hudson River Park Trust) is fairly typical of our public work in that it required resourcefulness on a tight schedule and budget. Our work leverages these constraints to create objects and spaces that enrich users’ experiences of the urban landscape.
Boathouse and restaurant, facing east
How does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends, be it sustainability, technology, etc.?
The four structures build on the trend of cities rediscovering their waterfronts as places for living and recreation. They turn a liability – an abandoned waterfront – into an asset: an active landscape that has the additional benefit of fostering physical activity. In New York, renewed interest in the built environment’s role in health and well-being is exemplified by the recent publication of the Active Design Guidelines, which sets forth architectural guidelines designed to encourage exercise. While the Hudson River Park Activity buildings include a number of ecologically sustainable materials, their greatest contribution is the community sustainability engendered by the creation of a recreational hub that will benefit the neighborhood and city at large.
E-Mail Interview conducted by John Hill