Hudson River Park: Urban Beach @ The Gansevoort Peninsula – 2016

The 2016 Summer High School Program focused on the Gansevoort Peninsula, which is now the sole remnant of the 19th Century-constructed Manhattan shoreline. The popular parkway includes a busy bicycle path, a number of developed piers, traditional play areas, boat launches and walking paths. The course aimed to introduce the question of the functioning of public space within the context of a city on water and its land water relationships, the nature of the urban water nexus, and public education related to ecology.

Students worked in teams with representatives of the Hudson River Trust to develop designs that will help meet the goals of the Trust while addressing the complexities of living on an urban waterfront that is prone to storm surge, sea level rise and water pollution. Students used site visits, discussions with local stakeholders, and digital tools to choose a location on or near the Gansevoort Peninsula. Each final design proposal was meant to meet the client’s goals that the site provide the function of an “urban beach.” The urban beach concept allowed for exploration of refiguring the shoreline and change the shape of the land parcel, as the Gansevoort site is composed of terra firma rather than wood pilings or concrete infill. Throughout the course, students gained knowledge and tools on major urban design themes such as waterfront development, sustainable infrastructural systems, design for climate change, and the search for design interventions that address public engagement with social and environmental issues.