Plans to transform the northernmost pier within Hudson River Park have picked up steam again with landscape architecture firm !melk sharing that construction will begin this summer. Work on Pier 97 was meant to commence in September 2020 but was hindered by the pandemic.
In anticipation, !melk offered Urbanize NYC a first look at new renderings depicting how the current sad strip of concrete jutting into the Hudson will soon be reinvented as a vibrant and immersive public space boasting a playground with water spray features, a multi-use activity field, numerous seating and picnic areas, and a gently sloping lawn. The pier is also being planned to host a historic vessel on its south side.
The park's paths have been designed to encourage movement and take advantage of the city and river views afforded by its location. Each space flows into the other with ease and boasts its own architectural highlights, ranging from bespoke shade canopies to a sculptural jungle gym to an elevated overlook platform—all of which add whimsy to the park experience.
Speaking to the design, Jerry van Eyck, !melk's founder and principal, says: “The park design harmoniously combines subconscious references to its former existence as an active port, which is expressed in our choice of materiality and textures. This, together with a cohesive and contemporary use of geometries, design elements, and arrangement of plant material, we were able to deliver an immersive park experience that celebrates the soul of a neighborhood with a rich history. It was important to us to create a place that offers a variety of completely different environments and settings, all within one cohesive, holistic, singular identity."
Pier 97 will cost $38 million to develop (a figure that includes the park space, engineering, upland improvements, and widening towards the north) and covers the roughly two-acre pier structure located off of 12th Avenue at 57th Street, as well as the adjacent upland areas stretching to 59th Street. The design is the result of extensive community engagement and has received unanimous support from Manhattan Community Board 4.
Once complete, it will join more than $1 billion's worth of work underway or recently completed along the 4.5-mile Hudson River Park, including the under-construction Gansevoort Peninsula, which will become Manhattan's first public beach; the just opened, and already extremely popular, Little Island; Pier 57, a 633,000-square-foot mixed-use development anchored by Google that will generate three acres of open public space; as well as Pier 76 which debuted its new public spaces this week.