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Thread: Governors Island

  1. #301


    Quote Originally Posted by daver View Post
    Hmm. Well, that is very different from your average county fair aerial gondola.
    Yes, your average county fair gondola would not mar one of the most magnificent vistas on the face of the earth.

  2. #302


    Island planners want visitors now, big money later

    By Skye H. McFarlane

    The redevelopment of Governors Island may have taken a detour earlier this fall with the rejection of a set of master plan proposals, but island managers say that the abandoned Coast Guard facility is finally building momentum in its quest to become a premier New York City destination.

    After pulling in record crowds last summer, the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, a state-city public authority, is taking steps to build the island’s visitor base in the coming season while conducting a design contest to plan the facility’s future parkland.

    To make the island more attractive to commercial developers down the road (officials hope that one day Governors Island will be financially self-sustaining), GIPEC is working to make the island more visible and accessible to New Yorkers. Although plans for next summer won’t be finalized until the spring, GIPEC president Leslie Koch said that the island will offer improved access through some combination of longer hours, more days or opening up a larger section of the land to visitors.

    Last summer the island was open from June 2 to Labor Day, with open access from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, guided tours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and several festivals and specials events sprinkled throughout the summer.

    The island attracted 26,000 visitors, a number that Koch called “a drop in the bucket” compared to other N.Y.C. sites, but a 300 percent increase for the island. Controlled by the military for most of its history, the space only became accessible to the public in 2003.

    “We’re hoping for at least 30,000 visitors this summer,” Koch said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed for good weather.”

    In pursuit of that goal, GIPEC is installing a barge dock so that commercial water taxis can join the Governors Island ferry in bringing visitors to the island. A new trolleybus will be available so that guests with limited mobility can tour the island. GIPEC is considering adding a short bike route through the historic district this summer and the Downtown Boathouse plans to install a floating dock for kayakers in time for the 2007 season.

    Made possible by grants from the Friends of Lower Manhattan ($25,000) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (just over $50,000), the 20-by-40 foot dock and access ramp will also be able to accommodate canoes. The dock will be designed so that it could be relocated to accommodate future construction on the island. According to Boathouse founder Jim Wetteroth, who also supplied the design details, the dock would serve as a destination point for kayaking tours and groups. For security reasons, the boaters would have to clear their trips with GIPEC before arriving on the island. A GIPEC spokesperson said that the group couldn’t comment on the specifics of the kayak dock until it meets with Wetteroth to discuss the details.

    As for the island’s less immediate future, Koch said that GIPEC is focusing on developing the island’s 85 acres of open space. On Nov. 13, the same day that GIPEC rejected all 25 responses to this summer’s request for proposals, the group announced that the island will be the future home of the Harbor School, a marine-themed public high school that currently resides in Bushwick. The school will be located in one of the historic district buildings and the Department of Education will be responsible for renovating the building and funding the school. Neither a specific location nor a timeframe for the school has been identified.

    GIPEC also extended the deadline for applications to its two-step parkland design contest until Dec. 1. Representatives from 46 different developers and landscape architecture firms attended a pre-submission information session on Halloween, two weeks before the original deadline. In January, GIPEC will select five finalist firms, each of which will be asked to submit a design to the contest. By spring, the public should be able to view and comment on the designs. To encourage high-quality work, GIPEC will reward each of the five competitors with a $40,000 “honorarium.”

    “We want to recognize how much effort it takes, and how much it costs, to come up with a truly innovative design,” Koch said.

    Koch added that GIPEC will choose a design team based on the team’s plan as well as the team’s ability to interact with the community and respond to public concerns. Rules governing what can be developed on the island specify that there must be at least 40 acres of parkland in the final design, with no gambling or residential buildings allowed. In addition, GIPEC wants the park designer to create a two-mile boardwalk and bikeway to replace the current road that encircles the island. GIPEC’s other visions for the open space include barbeque grills (grilling is forbidden in most city parks), playgrounds, sculptures and an outdoor amphitheater.

    In the much longer term, Koch hopes to bring a mix of hotel, retail, commercial and non-profit tenants to the island. GIPEC is still studying the possibility of an aerial gondola to transport visitors from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Renowned architect Santiago Calatrava unveiled gondola drawings with the mayor in February, but there has not been much talk about the project since.

    “The only way the island comes back to life is if you use it,” Koch told Community Board 1 members on Nov. 27. “We need your help to make sure that it’s a priority and that we use the momentum we’ve gained in the past few months.”

    Downtown Express is published by
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  3. #303


    Downtown Express
    Volume 19 | Issue 29 | December 01 - 07, 2006


    No need for fantasies on Governors Island

    Our optimistic side sees that with each failed effort on Governors Island, officials may actually learn a little bit. The revelation that nobody submitted a viable plan to develop the island earlier this year has led to the newest in a series of “can’t miss” strategies. Bring more people to the island this summer, set up a design competition for a public park and build it – then we’ll get enough people visiting to get investors interested in proposing a feasible, long-term use for the island, so the new thinking goes.

    Sounds reasonable to us as long as officials focus on one step at a time. The Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, the state-city authority managing the island, made a smart decision this year by expanding access to the island and Leslie Koch, GIPEC’s president, told Community Board 1 this week she wants to increase the number of people visiting the island next summer.

    That’s the right next step. The island has long tantalized open space lovers but has befuddled New York politicians for a decade because none of the countless ideas has unleashed the necessary enthusiasm and money to make it happen. To this day, nearly all New Yorkers don’t know of the beauty and history that is a mere seven-minute ferry commute from Lower Manhattan.

    Koch wants to open the island up to kayakers and bikers next summer and add a trolleybus so those who have trouble walking can see it. In addition, the island should be open on Sundays and for more months next year. Why not let dogs and their owners visit too? The more people who come, the more public pressure to get something done. Koch also talked about long-term plans to allow people to barbecue – normally a forbidden activity in city parks. We see no reason why that can’t be done this spring.

    The park design competition should be extended until the state and city identify the funds to build it. Officials have tried too many times before to excite the public with un-funded ideas. No one’s naïve enough to be paying attention anymore. If there is money to build a park, let’s get the competition underway and build something. If not, let’s just get lots of people out there and wait for the day when the will to make it better is there. It’s pretty great now.

    They will come, and then it will be built.

    © 2006 Community Media, LLC

  4. #304
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    Gov. Island competitors announced

    by amy zimmer / metro new york

    JAN 18, 2007

    GREENWICH VILLAGE. Plans for Governors Island have moved in fits and starts since the federal government transferred the 172-acre former Coast Guard base back to New York in 2003. But the city/state agency overseeing the project hopes they will be jolted forward by yesterday’s announcement that five internationally renowned landscape and architecture firms will compete to design the island’s park.

    After the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation tossed out proposals by developers last summer, it decided to focus on developing the public space. The contestants were selected from 29 teams, which included 65 firms from 10 countries, and they will develop a range of conceptual designs for the 2.2-mile promenade encircling the island as well as a 25-40 acre southwestern area with views of the Statue of Liberty. A jury of design experts and officials is expected to select a winner this summer.

    The competitors include Field Operations, which is designing landscaping at Fresh Kills and the High Line; Ramus Ella Architects; Hargreaves Associates; Rotterdam-based West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture; and WRT LLC, which has developed a Staten Island project in New Stapleton.

    “The open space needs to be the anchor and armature of the island,” said Leslie Koch, GIPEC’s president, last night at a public forum held at the American Institute of Architects’ New York Chapter.

    Koch said she wanted the island to become a place where New York families could come on weekends and feel as if they’re on a “mini-vacation.”

    © 2007 Metro.

  5. #305
    The Dude Abides
    Join Date
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    NYC - Financial District


    Governors Island Could Play Host to an Auto Race

    Special to the Sun
    March 27, 2007


    A car-racing league is considering a slot on its circuit for Governors Island, the 172-acre former military base that the city and state are intending to develop.

    A spokesman for the Indy Racing League, John Griffin, said the company hopes to add New York City to its racing league within a few years.

    "Governors Island certainly is something that has come up, but in terms of definitive plans, we still have a long way to go," Mr. Griffin said. "We've had some discussions with people in the greater New York City area," including the agency overseeing the island's development. "No single idea has been approved or shot down," he added.

    The Indy Racing League, which holds a 17-race circuit that includes the Indianapolis 500, three years ago began including courses that utilize city roads, as opposed to solely racing on oval tracks, Mr. Griffin said.

    Representatives from the agency overseeing the project, the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, could not be reached for comment yesterday afternoon.

    The inquiries by the Indy Racing League were reported Sunday in the St. Petersburg Times.

    The Gipec president, Leslie Koch, told the city Planning Commission yesterday that the task of creating a mixed-use development on Governors Island would be broken down into numerous pieces. Previously, the agency had asked single developers to submit bids to tackle the giant project themselves. However, the final submissions, which ranged from a Nickelodeon-themed amusement park to a giant CUNY campus, were considered disappointing and were rejected last fall.

    Ms. Koch stressed that creating a world-class park for much of the island was at the top of her agenda, but no date has been set for new proposals.

    "Our focus right now is on building the park," she said.

    The push to give Governors Island a makeover has puttered along since 2003, when the space was acquired from the federal government with a provision that barred residential development. Earlier this year, Gipec announced a competition among five finalists to design the parkland section of the island, with the winner expected to be chosen in the summer.

    © 2007 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.

  6. #306
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    A speedway on Governors Island?


  7. #307

    Default now the Tour de Doctoroff? almost an Olympic sport.

    Ironic that the powers that be at Governors Island would not allow visitors to ride their bicycles over the past two summers because they were afraid of potential lawsuits...

  8. #308


    Deep-six this idea.

  9. #309

    Wink Fantasy Island

    Something tells me, this is going to be a looooooong thread.

    The attachment below shows an aerial photo/rendering of one, of the many, design concepts for the island. Fortunately this particular 'design concept' does not include a Race-Track!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	harbor300.jpg 
Views:	332 
Size:	60.1 KB 
ID:	3826  
    Last edited by infoshare; March 28th, 2007 at 10:24 AM.

  10. #310


    I assume this Gran-Prix idea is some sort of twisted joke.

  11. #311
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    Hardly something to get worked up over, people.

    This is another one of those crazy proposals that is bound to end up in the parts bin collecting dust.

  12. #312


    Fantasy Island

    Five teams compete to make Governors Island an urban paradise. Only one will survive.

    By Alexandra Lange

    REX/DESVIGNE This French-American team envisions 55-by-55-foot
    landscaped squares pixelating the island's shores; on the western edge,
    facing the Statue of Liberty, a boxy beach, pool, and viewing platform.
    Rendering: REX/MDP/Image by Luxigon

    Tooling around the outer edge of Governors Island on a glorious spring day, it hardly seems like it would be difficult to motivate people to go out there. What you see looking out is the movie version of New York City, the coming-to-America view of the Statue of Liberty, the glittery skyscrapers along the Battery. What you see looking in is Nolan Park, a charming row of yellow clapboard houses, flowering trees that shiver pink petals over the lawns; Fort Jay, its bermed sides covered in grass—and, on the South Island, an 80-acre wasteland of Coast Guard structures, slowly falling to pieces.

    In other words, Governors Island, sitting at the mouth of the East River, a half-mile below Manhattan, is a jewel—but it’s also a remarkably difficult development conundrum, whose recent history is littered with failed plans. First of all, how is anybody going to get there? The aerial gondola designed by Santiago Calatrava was a beautiful idea, but one that seemed to be a fantasy. (In fact, it’s currently undergoing feasibility studies, and may yet happen.)

    The bigger question, of course, is why anyone would want to go. The federal government sold Governors Island to the city and state for $1 (the city and state administer 150 acres; the National Park Service is responsible for 22 more) with a number of stipulations, the most restrictive being no residential development. Back in the day, the city was looking for one big idea for the island. (The Giuliani administration floated the idea of a casino and five-star hotel but was thankfully thwarted.)

    A request for expressions of interest in 2005 brought out a grab bag of parties, from the Related Companies and the Durst Organization to the New Globe Theater (still vying for a place at Castle William) to a Tivoli Gardens–esque children’s park complete with giant London Eye–inspired Ferris wheel. Nickelodeon proposed the obvious theme park; Durst was in on an idea for a sustainable cuny campus. Both Industria Superstudio and IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center were interested, as was Friends Seminary. The city hired Toronto-based planners Urban Strategies Inc. to analyze the responses, coagulating them into four themes: Iconic Island, stocked with functional and sculptural works of art and architecture; Innovation Island, an incubator for new research, education, and business ideas; Destination Island, the theme-park option; and Minimum Build Island.

    Last year, the city solicited more-specific ideas from the private sector for master plans, but the request didn’t bear fruit. Developers (not exactly a shock) did not want to pony up for new docks, new roads, or new parks. They were waiting for the city and state to make Governors Island a destination island.

    As City Hall’s maker of big plans, Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff gets fingered for the failed request for proposals, but he says he was always skeptical. “We could have gotten a person that wanted to create a legacy and do something truly spectacular. In this era of fabulous wealth, it was worth a try,” he says. And Doctoroff still thinks that a global health institute—or an environmental one—could work.

    So the city went back to the drawing board—or, actually, five of them. Five design teams were asked to conceive a new landscape, from 25 to 40 acres, for the southern end of the island, and a new 2.2-mile promenade encircling it, and to rethink the open space in the northern historic section.

    The essential question all five teams need to answer is, Why have this park? “Everyone knows how to get to Prospect Park or Central Park,” says Leslie Koch, president of the Governors Island Preservation & Education Corporation. “What is the experience that this park and promenade can provide that is unique? This has to be compelling.” Compelling enough to make us get on a ferry or water taxi, and go to New York’s own Nantucket. The visions on the following pages are a first step toward compelling.

    And the question is even being posed to the public: Would you go there? After May 31, the five plans will be exhibited both on Governors Island and at the Center for Architecture on La Guardia Place, with comments requested. The island itself will be open to the public on the weekend all summer, with a free, seven-minute ferry from the Battery Maritime Building. A jury will recommend a winner by fall—at which point the next and more difficult phase will begin.

    First, all sorts of other dreamers want to impose their vision on the island. Landscape architect Stephen Whitehouse, who developed a concept for Governors Island in 2003, thinks a spa is a no-brainer. Art dealer Daniel Wolf proposed a children’s island including playgrounds by wife Maya Lin, a Takashi Murakami fountain, and new Gates by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Julie Menin, chair of Community Board 1, wants playing fields. Joseph Melillo, executive producer at bam, thinks the island needs its own creative director to seek site-specific events.

    But the bigger problem is finding developers with real money. Mark Strauss, a partner at architecture and planning giant FXFowle, thinks that the park alone will not be enough of a draw. “I don’t see the park as a catalyst in itself for attracting people and investment,” he says. “There has to be a vision from the top, and I think it could be academia. Columbia moved up to 116th Street 100 years ago because they were better off selling their existing land and being pioneers.” Downtown’s current gorilla, crushing all townhouses in its path, is NYU. Could it leap the East River?

    But, at long last, something will happen at Governors Island. Demolition of the Coast Guard facilities could begin within a year. It shouldn’t be a fantasy much longer.


    REX/DESVIGNE In the island's interior, a flat checkerboard of
    woodlands, pastures, prchards, and meadows, unique in being
    "a place to dig a hole."
    Rendering: REX/MDP/Image by Luxigon

    The basis of this plan, by architect REX and landscape architect Michel Desvigne, is the grid. But what they propose is hardly Manhattan’s gridiron. Rather, it is Jefferson’s, dividing the entire island into 55-by-55-foot units that would then be planted, paved, planked, and filled with grass, hard court, cedar, water, or sand to create a thick perimeter of people-intensive programming: beach, sports facilities, boating, stages, and amphitheater seating to watch the informal parade. “We didn’t want it to be just a treadmill for views,” says REX principal Joshua Prince-Ramus.

    The interior would be low-cost, low-impact micro-agriculture, woodlands, water meadows, pastures. Places to dig a hole, to participate, not just watch. “It is not fake nature designed to look picturesque,” says Prince-Ramus. “We want it to be what it is: synthetic.”

    Prince-Ramus wants to make sure that the park his team designs works on its own terms, and as a core around which development can happen. He points out that a 14,000-person amphitheater requested by the city would take six hours to fill with the current ferry service. And he thinks half the project’s $200 million budget will go just to infrastructural issues like preventing erosion. That said, he is optimistic. Their grid would allow whatever happens—conference center, museum, campus—to be plugged in without disrupting the pastoral center. While silvery cubes glimmer in the background of several renderings, the plan offers no architecture per se: “No one has the right to design a boathouse yet,” Prince-Ramus says. “Credibility before beauty.”


    Rendering: Hargreaves Associates/Michael Maltzan Architecture

    HARGREAVES This team describes its promenade as a necklace
    arching in and out into the water studded with pearls like a set
    of southerly dunes.
    Rendering: Hargreaves Associates/Michael Maltzan Architecture

    Hargreaves Associates and Michael Maltzan Architecture take a necklace as its dominant metaphor. “We thought of the promenade as a necklace with several strands,” says George Hargreaves, “and then these jewels on it that are plazas or activities.” The jewels are buildings, which echo the fluid lines of the public spaces and places, with few right angles. There is a double-ring hotel and conference center, an ecology center set over new wetlands to the west, and another doughnut creating a pool in the southeast. Flowerlike canopies shade multiple ferry terminals, and there is a rippling cover (Maltzan is a former Gehry employee) over the amphitheater—an open, grassy space that flows into a lawn and playing fields. The promenade loops like a racetrack in and out from the land to various piers. Many walkways would be fitted with solar canopies that would, with the power generated by windmills set in a new range of pine barrens, take the southern end off the grid.

    Hargreaves picked Maltzan to design the architecture because of its winning plan for the Los Angeles State Historic Park, and because of Maltzan’s experience designing MoMA QNS. “I realized he has faced this problem before, of creating something ‘out there’ and getting people to go out there,” Hargreaves says.


    WEST 8 / QUENNELL ROTHSCHILD Three thousand free wooden
    bikes would allow for rapid circumnavigation on looping, leafy paths.
    Rendering: West 8/Rogers Marvel Architects/Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Quennell Rothschild/SMWM

    Rendering: West 8/Rogers Marvel Architects/Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Quennell Rothschild/SMWM

    A large team (composed of landscape architects West 8 and Quennell Rothschild & Partners, architects Rogers Marvel and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and planners SMWM) proposes a hybrid of landscape and architecture, based around a sinuous set of new watercourses and paths. Development would follow the eastern edge and hug a new waterway, with a DS+R ferry terminal. Proceeding south, a visitor would encounter the Vertical Landscape, mountains popping up out of the flat southern tip that would integrate active recreational, cultural, and educational functions. Inside could be snack bars, exhibits, a funicular, and caves for spelunking. Says West 8 partner Jerry van Eyck: “We wanted to give it the attitude of a national park, one with primal nature, robustness, where you don’t feel the hand of man.” (Although with certain amenities: The plan would also supply 3,000 wooden bicycles and 3,000 wooden armchairs.)


    FIELD OPERATIONS To create an island of year-round attractions,
    FO looked east and north, adding a "rouge element" with a hanging
    bridge between a meadow and tidal flats.
    Rendering: Field Operations

    Rending: Field Operations

    Called “Mollusk,” the plan developed by Field Operations and WilkinsonEyre is encapsulated by an ideogram of a ridged, bumpy shell encircled by a golden path. “It should be a fairly empty landscape,” partner James Corner says. “No clutter. We want to maintain the scale of being out there in the harbor and the sense of vulnerability, of exposure.” The golden path represents the required promenade, which would create a hard edge all the way around the island. Within that band, the flat southern topography would be sculpted into a series of soft hills, crowned by flowering meadows. In a certain sense, FO’s is the most Olmstedian proposal, as it creates a naturalistic landscape on landfill from 1900, a place that could immediately seem like it had always been there.

    But there are plenty of 21st-century touches. Facing Brooklyn, there would be protected boating areas, a beach carved into the island, and a floating pool set on the edge. At the far end, the land would be carved down, creating tidal pools that could fill with the bay’s original mollusks. Farther north are a set of thermal pools, heated in winter like an Icelandic sauna, and the Nest, a global weather institute. FO is already designing the landscapes for both the High Line and Fresh Kills parks, so it would have to be considered the front-runner.


    Rendering: WRT LLC/Urban Strategies, Inc.

    WRT To welcome visitors to the island and to make clear they
    are entering a more organic world, WRT invisions a bivalve-inspired
    ferry terminal—"a stage for the city" opening onto Oyster Dock.
    Rendering: WRT LLC/Urban Strategies, Inc.

    The Philadelphia firm WRT, teamed with Urban Strategies, from Toronto, mixed its inspirational metaphors. “We were looking at forms in nature like oysters and pearls and stem cells,” says WRT partner Margie Ruddick. “Things that have a forgiving architecture, and where one thing is nested in another.”

    Her team’s plan carves a series of interlocking ovals into the flat southern landscape, nesting a play lawn inside a larger great meadow, and an artificial hill inside a new wetland at the southern end. Rather than building up the center, the WRT scheme builds up the edge, stringing a series of structures that could house a spa and retreat center on a rocky promontory, plus a working waterfront along the Brooklyn side. These buildings, however, would not pop up out of the landscape but be part of it: Green roofs would slope up from the interior toward the water at one or two stories, turning the center of the island into a protected bowl.

    “I have been reading Last Child in the Woods,” Ruddick says. “It is about how those of us who connected very closely to nature as children have a sense of responsibility for it. I thought at one point of calling it Gore Island.” To this end, the team envisions a camp in a new forested ravine and a sustainable farm and garden. The southwest side of the island has evolved into a sandbar beach and reef. The plan has a hotel on the west side (perhaps one of the new Starwood eco-hotels), but not for the business traveler: “It should be considered a retreat.”

  13. #313


    Is a beach such a good idea, or are the waters around the island not too rough? I like the idea of some sort of raised structure overlooking Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, which can be used as a ferry terminal underneath as proposed in that necklace design. And I'm not too sure if it would get patrons, but perhaps use an apartment building or two that is there already on the western side of the island as a hotel, or one of the lots as sort of bungalows or whatever(I know, no residential stuff, but these would be hotels/motels type deals)

  14. #314
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    My problem with a beach -- either on Governors Island or anywhere along the Hudson River Park -- is the flotsam / garbage which the tidal pull of the Hudson River leaves behind on the shore ...

    Take a look just about any day of the week as you walk along the shoreline. Pretty disgusting. The amount of effort / money to keep any beach cleared of all that stuff would be ridiculous. And the "beach" would be "usable" for about 2-3 months -- max -- out of the entire year.

    Funds can be better spent. If swimming is the desired activity then a huge pool would undoubtedly be cheaper and easier to maintain.

  15. #315
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    Loft, who uses beaches for swimming anymore?

    It is like saying you want more green space to do something like, I don't know, throw a BALL or something!!!

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