At the Hudson's Edge: Beacon's Long Dock a Resilient Riverfront Park



Beacon, NY | Reed Hilderbrand LLC | Client: Scenic Hudson Land Trust


Sixty miles north of New York City, we’ve transformed a postindustrial site into a popular riverfront park, where art, recreation, and environmental education enable visitors to forge deeper connections with the Hudson River and its history. Originally a wooden pier and basaltic railroad fill on tide flats, but vastly degraded throughout much of the twentieth century, the recuperated property has returned a vital part of Beacon’s waterfront to an active, diverse, and resilient landscape. Three phases of remediation and ecological restoration have been completed, earning a three-star ranking from the Sustainable Sites Initiative.


Site History

Throughout most of the twentieth century, this property’s land use veered from bad to worse—from an abandoned railroad siding and ferry depot, to a fuel storage site and salt stockpiling operation, to an automobile junkyard. Dedicated conservationists assembled the land and began remediating almost twenty years ago. More than a decade ago, the design team reimagined it as a working landscape that restores ecological function, incorporates a major art installation demonstrating the river’s tidal action, and foregrounds best practices for riverfront development on degraded sites in the face of higher sea levels and more frequent storms.

Harnessing Nature’s Force in Rehabilitation

Jutting 1,000 feet out into the broad Hudson estuary, the site is at once a serene point of reflective beauty—indisputably one of the valley’s most beguiling places on a summer evening—and a dramatically exposed peninsula that must survive the forces of one hundred miles of upstream river. Storm surges inundate the peninsula regularly; brackish upwelling occurs diurnally; and winter ice floes can be remarkably destructive. The mandate became clear: Build resilience, but realize it incrementally—when funds could be raised and remediation could progress.

The southern edge of the project’s quiet harbor was structurally reinforced with an interactive sculptural installation known as Beacon Point. Existing degraded wetlands—one intertidal, the others tidally influenced through the soil—were reorganized to optimize ecological function in the capture, retention, treatment, and release of storm runoff and surge inundation. Extensive earthworks made this possible. They defined strong physical separation between the level meadows and intertidal zone, emphasized the arcing gesture of the shoreline, and formed more intimate and varied spaces amid the wetlands and tide pools. Dozens of discarded concrete slabs found on site were redeployed as paving for parking and a plaza near the new kayak pavilion.

Incremental Recovery, Emergent Beauty

Long Dock Park took a decade to plan and almost that long to build. The project’s first phase, opened in 2009, included a boardwalk and a site-specific artwork. The next phase saw completion of an arts and environmental education center in Long Dock’s historic red barn and a pavilion for kayak storage and rentals. In 2011, during another phase of construction, storm surge from Hurricane Irene flooded the entire site for several days; with the working wetlands and protective landform buttresses already in place, but not yet completed, the park landscape survived its most difficult test and proved its mettle. A third phase was completed in 2014. By last summer, the project’s multiple characters had gone from piecemeal to fully emergent: the calm horizon of the reconstructed shore, the excited energy of the kayak pavilion and the arts center, the connective network of boardwalks and trails, the working infrastructure of swales and seeps, and, finally, the rough beauty of the dynamic intertidal zone and earthen buttresses.

Cultivating Resilience

The landscape architect led the design effort and helped guide all phases of implementation. The Sustainable Sites Initiative selected Long Dock Park as one of its original pilot projects, and it eventually certified the park with a three-star rating. The design team worked closely with SITES staff to refine evaluative criteria for ecological, economic, and social sustainability. As the SITES documentation process proved, the Long Dock narrative is a story about how such an enigmatic site could overcome massive physical, temporal, and economic forces: through design, determination, and resilience.

"The project integrates seamlessly with the river; it’s economical, yet detailed very well; and the landscape works on a large scale, yet the landscape architect creates intimate nodes."

- 2015 Awards Jury


Landscape Architects:
Reed Hilderbrand LLC
Eric Kramer, ASLA
Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA
Chris Moyles, ASLA
Brie Mendozza, ASLA
Michelle Crowley, ASLA

Architect: Architecture Research Office (ARO)
Planner/Architect: Patkau Architects
Marine Engineering: McClaren Engineering Group
Civil Engineering: Divney Tung Schwalbe
Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates
Sustainability: Vidaris, Inc.
Environmental: Ecosystems Strategies, Inc.
Soil Design: Craul Land Scientists
Owner's Representative: Levien and Company
Elevator Consultant: VJ Associates
Construction Management: Kirschoff-Consigli Construction Management



Thalle Industries Inc. - Remediation Backfill
Northeast Solite - Lightweight Soils


Peckham - Pervious Asphalt
Border Concepts - Steel Edging
Thalle Industries Inc. - Gravel Paving


KIM Lighting - Exterior Lighting


Landscape Forms - Receptacles


Naturally Durable Inc. - Wood Decking

Plant List

Meadow and Lawn
Sweetfern (Comptonia peregria)
Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinum corymbosum)
Chewing Fescue (Festuca rubra)
Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis)
Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne)
Heath Aster (Aster erecoides)
Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria)
Canada Lilly (Lilium canadensis)
Perennial Lupine (Lupinus perennis)
Evening Primrose (Onethera biennis)
Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)
Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virinicum)
Little Bluestem (Andropogon scoparius)
Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardi)
Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)
Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)

Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Clethra (Clethra alnifolia)
Silky Dogwood (Cornus amonum)
Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Swamp Azalea (Rhododendron viscosum)
Arrowood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)
Fox Sedge (Carex vulpoinoidea)
Bristly/Cosmos Sedge (Carex comosa)
Hop Sedge (Carex lupulina)
Blunt Broom Sedge (Carex scoparia)
Soft Rush (Juncus effuses)
Green Bulrush (Scirpus atrovirens)
Softstem Bulrush (Scirpus validus)
Wool Grass (Scirpus cyperinus)
Swamp Milkweed (Aesclepias incarnate)
Flat Topped/Umbrella Aster (Aster umbellatus)
Square Stemmed Monkey Flower (Mimulas ringens)
Blue Vervain (Verbena hastate)

Sweetflag (Ascorus calamus)
Swamp Aster (Aster puniceaum)
New England Aster (Aster nova angilae)
Nodding Bur Marigold (Bidens cernus)
Blue Joint Grass (Calmagrostis canadensis)
Fringed Sedge (Carex crinite)
Lurid Sedge (Carex lurida)
Bearded Sedge (Carex comosa)
Fox Sedge (Carex vulpinoides)
White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
Joe-pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)
Manna Grass (Gycera canadensis)
Common Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)
Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)
Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cimmonea)
Arrow Arum (Peltandra virginica)
Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)
Green-headed Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)
Duck Potato (Sagittaria latifolia)
Hardstem Bulrush (Scirpus acutus)
Chairmaker’s Bulrush (Scirpus americanus)
Broad-leaf Cattail (Typha latifolia)