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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

August 2007 Issue

New West Side Story
It’s called the most significant New York City park since Central Park. But is it what this great city deserves?

By Alex Ulam

New West Side Story Bruce Katz

On a weekday afternoon in midtown Manhattan, there aren’t many outdoor places where you can escape the cacophony of thousands of competing conversations, honking horns, and blaring radios. In fact, blocking out man-made noises is such an ordinary part of day-to-day life in Manhattan that you may not realize how loud they are until you walk out to the edge of the recently completed Pier 84 in Hudson River Park. At the end of this two-and-a-half-acre pier, the predominant sounds are those of seagull whistles and the water lapping against the supporting concrete piles below. Along the pier’s edge a wooden boardwalk leads to a large boathouse, where in temperate weather park users can sign up for rowboat expeditions that go up and down the Hudson and across to New Jersey.

Pier 84 is part of the Clinton South segment of Hudson River Park, which, along with the Clinton segment immediately north of it, was designed by Dattner Architects and landscape architects MKW + Associates. But in many ways, these contiguous park segments, which together stretch from West 26th Street to West 59th Street, bear the imprint of an urban revitalization project that in some respects has been “designed by committee.”

The design process has been a balancing act for the designers, who have had to contend with the park’s many different stakeholders. There have been endless community meetings and reviews by state and city parks agencies—-a major reason that today, seven years after the team began work, the project is not yet completely finished.

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