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Reimagining the Waterfront: Manhattan’s East River Esplanade was published to accompany an exhibition of the same title at the Museum of the City of New York, on view from June 5 to October 28, 2012. The competition, exhibition, and booklet were made possible through the generous support of CIVITAS by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, the William and Mary Greve Foundation, and a grant from councilmember Jessica Lappin.

Reimagining the Waterfront at the Museum of the City of New York was curated by Andrea Renner, Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York, with help from Curatorial Associate Susan Gail Johnson. The exhibition designer was Abby Brewster.

Cover: Wurts Bros., [View of East River and promenade], August 1, 1941 Museum of the City of New York, Wurts Bros. Collection, gift of Richard Wurts, X2010.7.1.12907 Reimagining the Waterfront: Manhattan’s East River Esplanade Edited by: Andrea Renner Designed by: Abby Brewster Copyright 2012 Museum of the City of New York and CIVITAS

Photographs of the waterfront in various stages of development. Top left: [East 95th Street looking southwest from beyond 1st Avenue], June 19, 1897 J. Clarence Davies Collection, Museum of the City of New York, X2010.11.5755 Top right: Roy Perry, Waterfront Cleared Prior to Construction of East Side Highway, ca. 1939 Museum of the City of New York, 80.102.103 Bottom: Norman T.A. Munder & Co., [Birds-eye view of Hell Gate, Hell Gate Bridge], ca. 1928 Museum of the City of New York, X2010.11.11632



Many New Yorkers do not know that the city hosts one of the best natural harbors in the western hemisphere and one of the largest in the world. It was the city’s waterfront that propelled it to its early greatness, driving economic growth as its waterways and ports welcomed trade to the New World.

After decades of recent neglect, we’ve again begun to view the rivers, streams, and bays that wrap around the boroughs as a key part of a vital city. The last decade has witnessed a great effort to better integrate the waterfront into the everyday life of New York. Private and public investment has funded new parks—from the Hudson River Greenway on Manhattan’s West Side to Hunts Point Riverside Park in the South Bronx—new residential and commercial developments, and greater water transportation. In the words of Amanda Burden, chair of the New York City Department of City Planning, the city’s waterways are becoming a “sixth borough.” Reimagining the Waterfront: Manhattan’s East River Esplanade examines the great potential embedded in Manhattan’s East Side shoreline, specifically the stretch that runs from the 59th Street / Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge to the Triborough / Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. Currently, the FDR Drive cuts off residents from the East River, while the esplanade, the narrow riverfront walkway sandwiched between the two, offers an often noisy and limiting experience. A design competition sponsored by CIVITAS asked architects and planners to rethink the esplanade to improve waterfront access and infrastructure and establish a new relationship between the neighboring community and the East River. We were delight-

ed to present the winning proposals in an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, which opened in the summer of 2012, and to archive the proposals in this companion publication. The visionary and creative ideas presented here ask us to imagine the Upper East Side and East Harlem as transformed into neighborhoods of both land and water. I am grateful to CIVITAS for making the exhibition and this publication possible. It has been a pleasure to work with Genie Rice, Felipe Ventegeat, and Hunter Armstrong and exciting to collaborate with an organization dedicated to the issues of our East Harlem neighborhood. I also want to thank Andrea Renner, Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York, who curated the exhibition and edited this publication. Susan Gail Johnson skillfully served as curatorial associate, while Abby Brewster designed a wonderful exhibition and publication.

SUSAN HENSHAW JONES Ronay Menschel Director Museum of the City of New York


Map of the East River Esplanade showing access points and key landmarks. By William Bateson.


“The riverfront becomes the heart and symbol of the city; indeed, in its mixture of uses, its variety of pleasures, it becomes a city in itself, and an image of what all cities ought to be.” - August Heckscher, CIVITAS Founder and former New York City Parks Commissioner, from Open Spaces: The Life of American Cities

For more than 30 years, CIVITAS has served the Upper East Side and East Harlem communities. By sponsoring land use studies, streetscape plans, and advocating for change, we have worked to improve the quality of life in our culturally rich communities. That is why in recent years we began to focus our efforts on the East River Esplanade park that lines the waterfront of our neighborhood. Until recently, the East River Esplanade was in a sorry state. There were multiple sinkholes that made its walkways impassable. Certainly, the esplanade has its great moments—Carl Schurz Park, most notably—but much of it lacks inspiration to stir the soul. Fortunately, many of the sinkholes are slated for repair, but this incredible waterfront still lacks a vision and plan to create the great place it can become. New York City is in a great era of waterfront park building. Incredible esplanades are opening on Manhattan’s west side, in Brooklyn, and along other parts of the East River. The Upper East Side and East Harlem lack adequate park space, yet they are two of New York’s most densely populated neighborhoods. Our New York City waterfronts are vital to our quality of life in providing inspiring vistas, a rigorous running track, a spot to fish, or just a cool breeze on a hot day.

Responding to community concerns about the state of the East River Esplanade, CIVITAS organized an ideas competition to inspire talented designers and park users. Our goal is to take the creative process of the competition and exhibition and translate it into an improved waterfront park. Publishing this booklet allows the exhibition to extend into the many years that it will take CIVITAS and our community to imagine, plan, fund, and construct a new East River waterfront. We hope you’ll take a copy of this booklet with you to the river and start thinking about what you want to see in the esplanade’s future. To move ahead with this ambitious effort, we welcome and require your support. Be part of the process by participating in panel discussions and lectures, working on park improvement projects, and helping to get the word out. To learn more about Reimagining the Waterfront and to support efforts for a new park, visit All competition submissions are linked to the site.


We’re reminded that many of New York City’s great public places have been the result of citizen-driven movements. The High Line is just the latest in a litany of examples.


“Over the past decade, New York City’s waterfront has been revitalized from a forgotten part of the city’s landscape to a vibrant array of open spaces. Reimagining the Waterfront at the Museum of the City of New York encourages creative thinking about how we utilize these spaces and how smart and sustainable design can transform the city’s landscape.” - Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park

“Reimagining a public place in New York City requires innovative thinking, community planning, and neighborhood support. Visionary ideas can become reality through engagement with community members. Design competitions can be an exciting and engaging way to share visionary ideas and reflect on the transformation of a space, like the East River Esplanade and the High Line, and create a new destination in New York City.” - Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line

“The strength and vision of the winning entries for the East River Esplanade are a testament to CIVITAS’s recognition that successful space design must take into account the total urban context. This competition lays the groundwork for much needed new development and illustrates the critical role of public space design in integrating the city’s sixth borough.” - Vishaan Chakrabarti, Holliday Professor and Director, CURE, The Center for Urban Real Estate, Columbia University, GSAPP; Partner, SHoP Architects


“Now that New York City is reclaiming its waterfront and converting it from historical maritime and mercantile uses to a more democratic, recreational public space, it is all the more important that we allow ourselves to dream big, by inviting plans for the most imaginative parks and urban amenities.” - Phillip Lopate, writer

“New York City is known around the world for its iconic skyscrapers, bridges, busy streets, and majestic parks. But our global city possesses another extraordinary physical asset: its waterfront. Four of New York’s five boroughs are on islands, and the fifth is a peninsula. That translates into more than 520 miles of shoreline. During the Bloomberg Administration, we’ve opened parks and greenways on the waterfront, restored natural habitats, and fostered all manner of recreation from kayaking to bicycling to fishing. Today our waterfront has become a destination in and of itself. From Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx and Hudson River Park in Manhattan to Freshkills Park on Staten Island, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Fort Totten in Queens, more New York City parks than ever now take advantage of beautiful views and increased, direct access to wonderful opportunities for water sports and shoreline recreation.” - Hon. Adrian Benepe, former Commissioner, New York City Parks and Recreation


Top: View of the Brevoort Estate and Vicinity Between 54th & 55th Sts. near 1st Ave. Lithograph by Major & Knapp for D.T. Valentine’s Manual, 1866 Museum of the City of New York, gift of Chester Dale, X2011.40.1 Bottom: Samuel H. Gottscho, River view from 80th Street and East River, looking north, 1928 Museum of the City of New York, gift of Samuel H. Gottscho, 39.20.4



The East River Esplanade, squeezed between the FDR Drive and the East River, links open areas, pedestrian bridges, and shoreline views. Between 60th and 125th Street, this narrow site offers a continuous promenade, but it also suffers from neglect and decay, as well as the continuing challenge of the neighboring highway. The ideas competition that CIVITAS sponsored in the fall of 2011 invited architects, landscape architects, and city planners from around the world to submit bold redesign proposals for this northern portion of the East River Esplanade. Ninety-one teams from 24 countries submitted entries, and a jury of architects, neighborhood residents, and city officials selected eight designs—first through third place and five honorable mentions—which are reprinted here after being exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York in the summer and fall of 2012. The competition was prompted by the city’s renewed interest in improving its waterfront and the number of large-scale projects that have been initiated across the five boroughs, from Hunter’s Point in Queens to new plans for the former Navy Homeport in Staten Island. In March 2011, the Bloomberg administration unveiled Vision 2020, its long-term plan for the city’s waterfront, which proposed improvements for the northern East River Esplanade, such as new noise barriers, widening where possible, and better maintenance, but did not take on the task of reimagining the site. With its ideas competition, CIVITAS hopes to promote more imaginative and ambitious thinking about the esplanade. The goal was not necessarily to find realistic or practical plans, but to inspire debate about the site’s future. The eight winning designs offer creative ways to integrate the waterfront into the everyday life of the neighborhood. They also move beyond the esplanade as a recreational space and use the site to address the issues facing the city in the 21st century: rising water levels, food distribution, access to open space, and restoring the island’s natural ecology.

CONTESTANTS WERE JUDGED ON THEIR ABILITY TO MEET A COMBINATION OF THE GOALS BELOW: Attention to the entire esplanade or specific sections Increased waterfront access Good design for active use Good design for passive use Integrated design, including sculpture, lighting, and planting Design for new activities Good use of existing amenities Separation from the FDR Drive Recognition of neighborhood context Integration and connections to existing parks

THE COMPETITION JURY: Jury Chair: Billie Tsien, AIA Principal, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects Al Butzel Principal, Albert K. Butzel Law Offices Honorable William Castro Manhattan Borough Commissioner NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Warren James Principal, Warren A. James Architects + Planners Signe Nielson, FASLA Principal, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects Rob Rogers, FAIA Partner, Rogers Marvel Architects Jack Travis, FAIA, NOMAC Jack Travis Architect Adam Yarinsky, FAIA Principal, Architecture Research Office (ARO) 9

History of the East River Waterfront

As Manhattan has changed, so has the East River waterfront. Through the early 19th century, the shoreline was the site of farms, villas, and meadows. New York’s elite settled along the northern stretches of the riverfront, erecting their country homes away from the bustle of the city developing on the island’s southern tip. Archibald Gracie built his mansion, which is currently the official mayoral residence, in 1799 at what is today 88th Street. As New York’s economy grew through the 19th century, docks and piers were built along the shoreline, followed by factories, slaughterhouses, coal yards, and breweries.

116th Street, view north, 2011

In the late 19th century, the riverfront went into decline, in part due to the rise of superior port services in Brooklyn and New Jersey. A new vision for the shoreline began to emerge in the late 1920s, when civic leaders proposed building an arterial highway along Manhattan’s eastern edge, flanked by a riverside promenade, in order to ease traffic and modernize the city. In 1939, when New York officials secured money from the federal Public Works Administration, construction on the first section of the East River Drive (today FDR Drive) and esplanade commenced. Manhattan Borough President Stanley Isaacs, who oversaw the project with assistance from Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, viewed the drive as a backbone for broad development, a project that would encourage new economic growth along the East Side and bring parks and playgrounds to the people. The esplanade provided a paved, narrow walk, making use of the area between the highway and the waterfront.


111th Street, view south, 2011

The Esplanade Today

Today, bicyclists, pedestrians, and recreational fisherman frequent the East River Esplanade, but the current path between 60th and 125th Street has been marked by sinkholes, crumbling bulkheads, and deteriorating piers. The current design of this section includes a walkway, bicycle path, and benches, but accommodates few other waterfront activities, as it is extremely narrow in most places and awkwardly conďŹ gured in others. Between 81st and 89th Street, where the FDR is stacked under Carl Schurz Park, the esplanade opens onto a pleasant and serene space. But for most of the length of the competition site, the highway inundates the esplanade with noise and pollution and cuts the city off from the waterfront.

114th Street, view south, 2011

71st Street, view north from the bridge, 2011 Photographs by Anton Brookes, courtesy of the photographer


First Place

3X: 300% More Esplanade Joseph Wood United States

Joseph Wood’s “3X” increases the esplanade’s length by 300% by running a system of canals and elevated pathways from the East River through the Upper East Side and East Harlem. Water from the river is pulled into the streets through mechanical and natural filtration, while parks, pedestrian walkways, and urban farms line the new walk. The proposal reintroduces a lost ecology of watercourses, marshes, wildlife, and agriculture back into Manhattan while creating a new type of city street, one that harmoniously integrates nature into urban life.

In breaking beyond the island’s edge, the proposal addresses a variety of urban issues in the surrounding neighborhood, improving transportation, livability, the distribution of food and water, and the quality of life. The canals connect the East Side’s open spaces, apartment buildings, public housing, institutions, subway stations, and new urban farms. The soil, vegetation, permeable pavement, and canal will naturally filter storm water and channel it to the river or to the farms for irrigation.


Water & Ecosystem


Increase Property Values New Waterfront Districts Major Vehicular Streets Maintained Continuous Path for Runners & Cyclists


white wood aster

pumpkin seed fish

prairie intermediate starved american fleabane woodfern panicgrass hornbeam

atlantic american silverside eel

yellow perch

red maple

red-tailed virginia hawk threeseed mercury

atlantic ninespine snapping turtle needlefish stickleback

eastern painted turtle

american black duck

wood duck

northern redback black salamander racer

spotted sandpiper

bull frog




Second Place

Hell Gate Estuary: An Ecological Use for Dredged Material Takuma Ono and Darina Zlateva United States

The waterfront’s commercial function has grown at the expense of its natural habitat. As the East River shoreline became more industrial, the building of piers, wharves, roads, and the dredging of the river decimated the marshes and wildlife along its banks. Takuma Ono and Darina Zlateva’s “Hell Gate Estuary” proposal, which addresses the area between 90th and 103rd Streets, seeks to recalibrate the relationship between natural systems and the industrial requirements needed to sustain the city.

Today, the Port of New York and New Jersey, the third largest container port in the nation, dredges 1-2 million cubic yards of sediment a year to create the deep navigational channels that ultra-large container ships require. The proposal finds a new use for this material, transferring it to Hell Gate to build a landscape that re-establishes a salt-water estuary. A hybridized design made of concrete imitates the marshland that once occupied this cove, fostering the regeneration of natural habitats while providing space for visitors to relax, fish, kayak, and participate in other waterfront activities. Within the plan, industry and nature are no longer oppositional, but rather interdependent—each grows with the other.



Third Place

Writing the Esplanade Matteo Rossetti Italy

Matteo Rossetti’s “Writing the Esplanade” seeks to establish a deeper relationship between the public and the waterfront. The plan encourages dialogue with the community and responds to the public’s changing needs. The redesign begins by erecting large “red boxes,” or pavilions, that serve as nodes for growth and centers for community outreach. The public is invited to visit the structures on the shoreline, to enjoy their different amenities, and to leave behind short, written messages, which

will be engraved along a walkway and wall of the new esplanade. A series of floating modules, each dedicated to a specific waterfront activity, will line the island’s edge over time, creating a system that can be continuously modified and adjusted according to the public’s desires.



Honorable Mention

Island Esplanade David Elzer United States

David Elzer’s “Island Esplanade” accentuates the esplanade’s function as an urban park, transforming it into an escape from the commotion of the city and the FDR Drive. Using infill, the proposal transforms the existing esplanade into a dense barrier of vegetation and stakes out new, detached territory over the river as the site of a reinvented promenade. Five “parklets” are sited along the axis, providing space for visitors to sit and relax. The plan eases Manhattan’s hard eastern edge,

Island 6, facing north

replacing it with a softer, green shoreline of wetlands, wildlife habitats, and a dense wooded embankment. The new ecology mitigates erosion and protects the area from future storm surges and the rise of sea levels. Removed from the island’s edge and hovering over the water, the new esplanade is distanced from the city and bounded by nature.


Island 6

Island 5

2 T o

Island 4

E p r

Island 3


Island 2

Island 1

Island 1, facing east



Existing trees

New, medium-sized trees & shrubs

Salt tolerant medium- to smallsized trees & shrubs Sage Glassworts

Tidal wetland grasses & plants Saltbush Cordgrass

Railing removed where embankment has been built up Current esplanade width 18ʻ - 35ʻ

FDR Drive

Topsoil & silt Fill from area construction project, i.e. 2nd Ave. subway line Wetland areas extended as material becomes available Potential future high tide level

Gravel vehicular access trail/ jogging path

5ʻ Current tidal range

Original paving stones removed Existing retaining wall

20ʻ Typical cross section of pier

Existing trees

Existing pedestrian ramp

Island 3 New pedestrian overpass Existing trees

Island 2 Existing trees New pedestrian bridge

Island 1

Island Island 66 Existing trees Ferry landing New pedestrian overpass Cafe

Island 5 Existing trees New pedestrian ramp

Original extent of pier

Island 4


Honorable Mention

The “Fit It” Process Jorge Manuel López, José María Echarte, Victoria Marrero, José Luis Llaca, María Ortiz, and María Andés Spain

The “Fit It” process, proposed by a team of six architects in Spain, offers an alternative design solution: it adds to the existing esplanade rather than replacing the structure. The plan inserts a system of modular and rectangular pontoons next to the esplanade. The modules are made of a combination of materials found in Manhattan—wood, steel, and concrete—and are designed to introduce a variety of new activities to the waterfront, such as swimming and dining. The “Fit It” system is a process that can be constructed in phases and over time, depending on budget restrictions or other concerns. It is

also a flexible system: some of the pontoons are fixed while others are moveable, endowing the island’s edge with a changing, porous profile. Some modules are formed into peninsulas; some create islands; and others are submerged, only to reveal themselves at low tide, linking the urban environment with nature’s cycles and creating an ever-changing, modular shoreline.

THE RHYTHM OF THE TIDES Manhattan’s tides will function as part of the design, used to create different landscapes.


LOW Tide 0:00

Main pedestrian walk (redesigned) + Solid platforms (low tide) + Mobile docks

LOW Tide


Main pedestrian walk (redesigned) + Solid platforms (high tide/ submerged) + Mobile docks (rearranged)

-9,8’ -16,7’ 6:00

19:00 -6,5’



URBAN MEMORIES These two icons will indicate the starting and the ending points of the intervention.

The light vertical garden

The sunken leisure activities container

The existing waterfront will be redesigned with minimal intervention, primarily by redefining its use.


Progressive construction >

Revitalizing the area >


Rearrange it >




Parallel Boardwalk Temporary docks


Variations in tides and space

WALKING ALONG THE ESPLANADE Recreational circulation (i.e. pedestrians, bicyclists, and skaters) will be concentrated on the existing esplanade, while relaxation areas will be concentrated on the river platforms.

LOW Tide






The vertical building will allow visitors to see a variety of native plants and birds.

Some platforms will be arranged along the shore to dock boats and other floating platforms.

These platforms can be moved to different parts of the waterfront, creating a variety of changing spaces and activities.

During low tide, these platforms will provide basic support for the others. Some will emerge on the surface and contain river vegetation.

all things merge into one and the river runs through it...


Honorable Mention

Urban Collage Mohammad Ali Behbahani, Marco Corazza, Francesco Fusillo, Vincenzo Marcella, Roberta Nardi Italy

buses, and hang gliders. Each segment operates on two different scales: a local scale that provides tree-lined roads, small shops, and playgrounds for the surrounding neighborhood, and a citywide scale, where libraries, theaters, parks, universities, or other institutions serve as major attractions on the waterfront. Piers, floating gardens, and footbridges create a second coastline removed from the FDR.

“Urban Collage,” designed by five architects in Italy, uses the esplanade as a spine for broad, regional development. The proposal possesses a wide geographical scope, incorporating parts of Manhattan, Roosevelt Island, and Queens in its plan. The plan recasts the East River as a link, rather than a barrier, between different parts of the city. A series of continuous “urban segments,” oriented east-west and each with its own character, topography, and design, are lined up along the waterfront. They extend over various neighborhoods that are connected through new footbridges, ferries,

01. SURFACES Today’s esplanade will be divided into continuous but varying “urban segments” that will be oriented perpendicularly to the existing structure.

The esplanade will be turned into a system of services primarily placed in Manhattan, Roosevelt Island, and Queens.

The project can be viewed as a series of connected surfaces, each with its own character and identity.

east river roosevelt island queens side

east river

east river

roosevelt island queens side east river roosevelt island queens side

result: macro services

roosevelt island queens side =









A grove is planted around the esplanade and FDR.


Wooden piers with rest areas widen the esplanade.


Rest and bathing areas are installed at different heights.


An existing footbridge is enhanced with rest stops, viewpoints, and hanging gardens.


$ Ă RDWLQJ VXUIDFH ZLWK SOD\JURXQGV solariums, and pools, reshapes the coast line.


A new ferry system links a “fragmented park�.


New piers and viewpoints are installed along the river’s edge.


Two new pedestrian and bike lanes connect the esplanade with green areas on Roosevelt Island and in Queens.


Floating piers and new services cap a treelined road system that extends westward.


A new public library and commercial VSDFHV DUH ORFDWHG LQVLGH D Ă RDWLQJ volume with a roof garden on top.


A new footbridge, with viewpoints and bike and pedestrian lanes, is placed next to the Queensboro Bridge.

04. VOCABULARY connecting




3 7

1 5



1 $Ă RDWLQJYROXPHKRXVLQJDQHZSXEOLF library and commercial services. 2 A roof garden connects to a park at a university, creating a new public space far from the road. 3 Pedestrian bridges over the FDR Drive. 4 A pier with a commercial galleria connects the esplanade to the water. 5 A second pier serves as a terrace for a new library. 6 An existing park is redesigned. 7 The project highlights the pedestrian and bike paths.




7 6






1 $Ă RDWLQJDUHQDZLWKD roof deck. 2 A green pier, which caps a new system of boulevards. 3 Swimming pool platforms with sandy areas. 4 Static rafts on water. 5 Pedestrian bridges over the FDR Drive. 6 Soundproof barrier, made of colored glass, lines the FDR. 7 Shaded areas, made by solar panels, function as rest areas on the esplanade. 8 New boulevards connect the esplanade to the city.



system of









1 A ferry system links all of the existing small parks to create a larger “water park.â€? 2 Floating platforms with recreational activities. 3 Lights and fountains line the ferries’ routes. 4 FDR soundproof barrier. 5 Redesign of an existing park with new services DQGVSRUWVĂ€HOGV



ACTIONS 6TXDUHĂ RDWLQJSODWIRUPVKRVWVZLPPLQJDUHDV Elevated terraces. Pedestrian bridges over the FDR. Public services are placed in new, glass volumes on the water. 5 Renewal of an existing university square. 6 The project reinforces the green areas with new services DQGVSRUWVĂ€HOGV

1 2 3 4


1 4





Honorable Mention

FDR Marshland Gerard Cadger and Xenia Semeniuk Canada

Gerard Cadger and Xenia Semeniuk’s “FDR Marshland” features a simple, strategic move: returning the edge of the East River to its natural state, marshland, using sediment dredged from the harbor. Currently, the area’s dredged sediment is re-deposited at the Historic Area Remediation site off the coast of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. By relocating it to the East River waterfront, the proposal reduces the distance tugboats, hauling the

dredge, will need to travel and thereby their carbon footprint. Deposited sediment and a new wave break will foster the growth of natural habitats and wildlife. The regenerated waterfront will host science projects for nearby schools, boardwalks, kayakers, and serve as a carbon sink more powerful that any forest on dry land.



proposed- fdr marshland


typical greenway (2m vegetation) 0.09 kg-CO2/m2/year


existing mud dump site




New Overpass


Sewer Outfall Location




Kayak Storage


Ru nn i







Cultural Center & Dock

Manhattan’s East River Esplanade is not suited for diverse activities













His t Rem oric A Sit ediat rea e ion

The marshland activates the waterfront, bringing people closer to nature






















Wave Break

Many sewer outfalls in Manhattan pour directly into the East River

The marshland ecosystem has a natural ability to filter waterborne particles and contaminants

96th St Cultural Centre

Art Studio Covered Market

Art Gallery



Scale (yards)




Honorable Mention

Expandedge 32 Néstor E. Lebrón González Puerto Rico

Spanning 50 years, Néstor E. Lebrón González’s “Expandedge 32” takes a long-term view on waterfront development. Manhattan’s open spaces—its waterfront and parks—currently possess a 32-mile perimeter. The proposal increases this number by inserting new strips of land that extend from the island’s parks out over the waterways. The process begins within the area of the East River Esplanade, and after a half century, the whole island will possess a new, fragmented border.

The land strips will gently bring visitors down the water, a change from the current condition, where the esplanade sits high above the waterline. Each strip will serve one of three basic programmatic functions: research, production, or recreation. They will host museums, agricultural fields, vegetable gardens, sport zones, and even a bioluminescent bay. New “programmatic cubes,” rectangular orange structures, will house shops, restaurants, research institutions, and viewpoints.

Rockefeller University Bioluminescent Bay - E60th St. to E68th St.







32 mile perimeter exists around Manhattan and its parks.

Begin multiplying Manhattan's

In the final phase, Manhattan has

32-mile perimeter, commencing with the area of the East River

a larger edge. There is more space for greenery, recreation,

Esplanade. This area comprises 10% of the total perimeter and

education, etc. This new condition contributes to a better quality of

grows to 17%.

life for New Yorkers.











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CIVITAS and the Museum of the City of New York would like to thank those individuals whose invaluable support made this possible.



The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation with special thanks to Hon. Adrian Benepe, Hon. William Castro, Charles McKinney, Joshua Laird, Mike Bradley, Vickie Karp, Nick Molinari, Steve Simon, Mark Vaccaro, The NYC Department of City Planning with special thanks to Hon. Amanda Burden and Michael Marrella, the Parks Committees of Manhattan Community Board 8, Peggy Price and Barbara Rudder, Chairs, and Manhattan Community Board 11, Frances Mastrota, Chair, and Lucian Reynolds, Vice Chair.

The competition is sponsored by CIVITAS with U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, NYC Council Members Jessica Lappin and Melissa Mark-Viverito and Co-Sponsors U.S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, New York State Senator Liz Krueger, New York State Senator Jose M. Serrano, New York State Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner, New York State Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez, and New York City Council Member Daniel R. Garodnick.

CIVITAS Board of Directors

Professional Advisors to the Competition

Genie Rice, Chairman, Felipe Ventegeat, President, James T.B. Tripp, Executive Vice President, Gorman Reilly, Vice President, Edward McAnaney, Treasurer, Natasha Brown, Secretary. Mark S. Alexander, William Bateson, Lucienne S. Bloch, Jeffrey N. Bluestein, Margit Swenson Bluestein, Jo Ahern Bressler, William Q. Brothers, Adrienne Caplan, Lee Chong, Elisabeth R. Clark, Ray Cornbill, Joanna Delson, Janis M. Eltz, Cindy A. Fields, Conrad Foa, Marcia T. Fowle, Judith Fresco, Rita Hirsch, Roberta Hodgson, Willa Hutner, Jeanne G. McAnaney, Steven R. Narker, Jorge Pereira, Peter Pettibone, Diane Phillpotts, Agustin Rivera, Roberta Schneiderman, Cora Shelton, M. Sava B. Thomas

William Bateson and Neville Epstein

Advisory Board


Robert Quinlan, Co-Chair, Genie Rice, Co-Chair. David Beer, Joan K. Davidson, Marina Kellen French, Elise Frick, Jamie Gibbs, Horace Havemeyer III, Mrs. Stephen Kellen, Stephen S. Lash, R. Geoffrey Roesch, Cynthia D. Sculco, Joseph Walsh, Charles S. Warren, Matthew Washington, John Winkleman, Frederic Withington, Anthony C. Wood, Joanne Woodward

Lauren Begen, Hannah Diaz, Samuel Myers, Ariane Prache, Alex Ritscher, Anya Urcuyo

Sharon Pope, Eleonora Zilianti and other members of the CIVITAS Esplanade Working Group. Bill Brothers, Natasha Brown and Diane Phillpotts, co-chairs, and other members of the CIVITAS Zoning Committee.

Staff Hunter F. Armstrong, Executive Director; Tali Cantor, Associate Director; Lauren O’Toole, Administrator; Dena Fisher, Development Associate

Volunteers Matthew Arancio, Anton Brookes, Tori Gilbert, Matthew Jenkins, Jill Lovatt, Jennifer Ratner, Geoffrey Roesch, Michael Storm, and many others

OTHERS Abby Brewster, exhibition and publication designer; BFJ Planning; Mosette Broderick, Director of Urban Design and Architecture Studies at NYU; Cindy Hon, web designer;

Phillip Lopate; Park Avenue Armory; Perkins Eastman; The Van Alen Institute; the 91 design teams who submitted proposals to the Reimagining the Waterfront competition.

CIVITAS would like to thank the staff of the Museum of the City of New York, including Susan Henshaw Jones, Sarah M. Henry, Susan Madden, Andrea Renner, Laura Bintzer, Karyn Bove Lai, Ansley Davenport, Susan Gail Johnson, Franny Kent, Rachel Noel, Naomi Person, EY Zipris, and many others. To learn more about CIVITAS, please visit 44


MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK The Museum of the City of New York celebrates and interprets the city, educating the public about its distinctive character, especially its heritage of diversity, opportunity, and perpetual transformation. Founded in 1923 as a private, non-profit corporation, the Museum connects the past, present, and the future of New York City. It serves the people of New York and visitors from around the world through exhibitions, school and public programs, and collections.

Ex Officio Members Hon. Michael R. Bloomberg, Hon. Adrian Benepe, Hon. Bill De Blasio, Hon. Ruben Diaz Jr., Hon. Dennis M. Walcott, Hon. Kate D. Levin, Hon. John C. Liu, Hon. Marty Markowitz, Hon. Helen Marshall, Hon. James P. Molinaro, Hon. Christine C. Quinn, Hon. Scott Stringer David C. Clapp, Chairman Emeritus; Mrs. William T. Comfort, Vice-Chair Emerita

Board of Directors James G. Dinan, Chair; Susan Henshaw Jones, Ronay Menschel Director; Newton P.S. Merrill, Vice Chair & Chairman Emeritus; Thomas M. Flexner, Vice Chair; Ronay Menschel, Vice Chair; James E. Quinn, Vice Chair; Bruno A. Quinson, Vice Chair; Lawrence J. Simon, Vice Chair

Trustees Council Margery Fortgang, Martin Mertz, Donald Oresman, Suzanne Randolph

Hilary Ballon, Jeremy H. Biggs, Michael Bruno, James E. Buckman, James Cacioppo, Jill Chalsty, Pamela H. Cloud, Mark D’Arcy, Marvin H. Davidson, Todd DeGarmo, Vernon Evenson, James P. Druckman, Vernon Evenson, Barbara J. Fife, Laura Lofaro Freeman, Mark F. Gilbertson, Leslie V. Godridge, Lorna B. Goodman, David Guin, James E. Hanley, Sylvia Hemingway, Jane Hoffman, Robert A. Jeffe, Joan Khoury, Stanford G. Ladner, Stephen S. Lash, James A. Lebenthal, Nancy Mahon, Martin J. McLaughlin, Hebe Dowling Murphy, Gurudatta Nadkarni, Jane B. O’Connell, Daniel J. Osheyack, Tracey Pontarelli, Valerie Rowe, Mary Burwell Schorr, Mitchell S. Steir, Jeffrey S. Tabak, Elizabeth Farran Tozer, Daryl Brown Uber, William C. Vrattos, Paula Zakaria

To learn more about the Museum, please visit 45

Reimagining the Waterfront  


Reimagining the Waterfront