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Thread: Vision of a Riverfront Lined With Ferry Docks

  1. #1
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

    Default Vision of a Riverfront Lined With Ferry Docks

    Vision of a Riverfront Lined With Ferry Docks

    By A. G. Sulzberger

    Guardia Architects A rendering of a small ferry dock — known as a “spud barge” —
    that has been proposed by the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Celebration

    The Hudson River may no longer be the major economic and transportation artery it once was, but it is a big river — beautiful in parts — that is home to commercial boats like ferries and barges as well as pleasure craft like sailboats and jet skis.

    It is not, as it turns out, home to enough docks.

    Water access has become one of the central tenets of urban redevelopment. In recent years, New York City has significantly opened its island edges to the public in a series of trails, parks and redeveloped piers.

    Upriver towns like Croton-on-Hudson, Irvington and Poughkeepsie have followed suit.

    Now the state is backing an effort to create more docks along the Hudson River, from New York City as far north as Lake Champlain. “There’s been recognition of the irony that the city of New York and the whole Hudson Valley has this spectacular waterfront and very little access,” said Clay Hiles, executive director of the Hudson River Foundation.

    The effort, to which the state has already allocated $750,000, is being described as a “legacy project” of the yearlong Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Celebration, named after three of the great explorers of New York waterways: Henry Hudson, who explored the river of his name; Robert Fulton, who developed the first commercial steamboat on the Hudson River; and Samuel de Champlain, who explored the lakes to the north.

    Joan K. Davidson, chairwoman of the celebration commission, described her vision for a whole network of docks linking communities along the Hudson, for commerce, transportation and recreation. “Too many of us in New York’s communities still can’t get to the river, or even see it,” she said at a recent event to raise additional money for the docks.
    Communities are now in the process of applying for a share of the state money for one of the initial docks, with the communities covering one quarter of the cost.

    Robert W. Elliott, who recently stepped down as deputy secretary of state and who previously was mayor of Croton-on-Hudson, said that there had been significant interest in the docks, which could be used for New York City based ferry services like New York Waterway. “This is just the beginning of a program we hope will go on for many, many years so that all communities that want access to the river will have it,” he said.
    More than 40 possible sites have already been identified.

    Scenic Hudson, which runs 40 parks and preserves along the river, has applied for money for a small kayak launching dock at a park its developing in Beacon. “We see this as a great opportunity for organizations like our and municipalities to create gateways to their waterfronts and their communities,” said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson.

    The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance has requested financing for two docks in New York City, at Inwood in Manhattan and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. Roland Lewis, head of alliance, said Manhattan has just three public docks. “The lack of access down here is shocking,” he added.

    Samantha Heyman, captain of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, a sailboat that specializes in environmental education, said that appropriate dock spaces could transform people’s relationship to the waterfront, citing Red Hook, Brooklyn, as an “if you build it, they will come type of place.”

    Arthur E. Imperatore, chief executive of New York Waterway, which operates 34 commuter ferries on 18 routes between the city and New Jersey, said that with better dock access he believed that the commuter ferry system could be significantly expanded to include the other boroughs.

    The quadricentenial commission has already released plans for a basic multipurpose dock, designed by Guardia Architects in consultation with state regulatory officials, that they say they hope communities will use because it will be cheaper and quicker to construct, Ms. Davidson said.

    (They estimate the cost at about $300,000.) (James Sanders, an architect, is hoping to add some dramatic flourishes to the bare-boned design.)
    “We should be doing anything that increases the use of the river — short of heavy industrial uses,” said Kevin Bone, an architect and author of “New York Waterfront: Evolution and Building Culture of the Port and Harbor” (Monacelli, 2003).

    Guardia Architects’ proposed design for small ferry docks calls for enhanced recreational uses of the waterfront.

  2. #2
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Soft Landing

    Ferry pavilion plan makes a splash on the Hudson

    Pentagram Architects and James Sanders & Associates have created designs for a new ferry dock that could be cheaply deployed along the Hudson River.

    The city’s waterfront once bristled with docks serving the commercial traffic that plied the Hudson and East Rivers. Today, mooring in Manhattan is harder to find—but that may be about to change.

    Pentagram Architects and architect James Sanders & Associates have teamed up to produce Riverways, a practical and cost-effective design for a string of riverside boat landings to bring people and watercraft back to the city’s rivers. The scheme, still in its early stages, is in support of a new docks initiative from the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission, a nonprofit group sponsoring a series of programs to commemorate Henry Hudson’s voyage of discovery 400 years ago.

    “This has been going on ten or 15 years—this idea that the river could again become an integrated transportation system,” said Sanders, who besides being a designer is also a noted author and filmmaker. He had in mind the increase in ferries around New York City over the last decade, including commuter lines and Water Taxis, as well as facilities like the Water Taxi Beaches in Long Island City and the South Street Seaport.

    The ferry pavilions function in both rural (top) and urban (above) settings.

    All these developments are viewed with pleasure by the Quadricentennial Commission. Its solution is so-called “Quad Landings”: the initial design, from Huntley Gill of Guardia Architects, calls for simple, stationary barges secured to the riverbed by twin poles and connected to the shore by narrow gangways.

    Placed at intervals from Manhattan to Albany, the Quad Landings would give pleasure boats and ferries a new way to connect to riverfront communities along the Hudson. The commission has received an initial $750,000 from the state to pursue the project, and is committed to footing 75 percent of the cost of constructing the landings (estimated at $250,000 each) for qualified municipalities that agree to pay the remainder.

    Sanders’ and Pentagram’s proposal dresses this concept up for a sophisticated urban audience. Riverways adds programming and a sense of event to the transmodal moment when the landlubber leaves shore, with an elevated plank that could play host to elements like cafes and newsstands, while barge poles become standards for canvas panels that block out the elements. James Biber, who headed up Riverways for Pentagram, claims the project fulfills a need for active public space where water meets the land. “We were looking around for this kind of urban amenity, and it just doesn’t exist,” said Biber.

    The pavilions are designed to sit lightly on the water and the wallet, costing no more than $1 million a pop.

    Sanders sets the cost of a single Riverways pavilion at slightly less than $1 million, with a single “kit of parts” approach that could facilitate a variety of uses for each landing, from outdoor movie theater to floating swimming pool.

    Neither group of designers will discuss efforts that may be afoot with ferry operators to make the landings a functional piece of infrastructure. President and CEO Tom Fox of Harbor Experience Companies, which owns the Circle Line Downtown and Water Taxi operations, had reservations about the concept, saying, “You can’t have the dock be the attraction—it has to provide access to the attraction.”

    For his part, Arthur Imperatore, president of New York Waterways, indicated in a statement that a project like Riverways could increase commuter traffic on the river: “Waterfront development provides the customers for successful ferry service,” he said. For now, however, the project remains, as Gill called it, “basically a labor of love.”

    A version of this article appeared in AN 18_11.04.2009.

    Ian Volner

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