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Projects / Buildings / Close the gap

Project: Close the gap

Initiator: d3 / transalt

Location: New York City

Completion: 2011

Result: First Prize

The Close the Gap competition was held by Transportation Alternatives, and  d3 (an international journal for architecture and design) this summer (2011)  to generate ideas for the New York City Greenway. The greenway is a cycle path that loops along the banks of the Hudson and East River but is interrupted  by a huge gap along the East river waterfront, between 38th and 58th street. The East River waterfront has long been in need of infrastructure changes, the FDR (Franklin D. Roosevelt) highway that runs along the waterfront prevents access to bike paths and the waterfront. Plans to implement changes have been 18-years in the making and is finally one step closer in realization.

The “Close the Gap” Competition garnered entries from 22 different countries and from  engineers, architects, landscape architects, city planners and designers. From a large  number of entries, a 5-member jury chose PLANET and the U.S firm Archetal as its shared first-place winners.   
We chose to explore issues of mobility (how NewYorkers move in their city) through alternative transport modes and address the issue of  renewable, green energy as a sustainable resource within a (still) growing 21st century  Metropolis. Within the considerations was not only how the urban infrastructure could  support alternative transportation access points but more importantly, how is the East  River part of a New Yorker’s life? 
How would it change the movement and quality of the  city if you could swim or surf in the East River on a hot summer day?
As in any Metropolis there exists a high demand for public spaces and recreational  areas. Our proposal offers a wide range of interventions that not only offer  mobility but play with New York City’s landscape and pre-existing infrastructure. One  aspect of the proposal links Manhattans East River front to Roosevelt Island via a water  reservoir that doubles as a hydropower station, allowing more access to Roosevelt as  well as providing development and recreational possiblities.

We defined our approach to the waterfront under the categories Connection, Space and Energy :
- to develop an infrastructure that merges seemlessly into already pre-existing networks  of public and alternative transportation but offers increased access points and mobility.
- to provide Manhattan and its inhabitants a new green, public space and recreational  environment that allows for an increase range of activities.
- to include within the interventions a possibility for the production of renewable energy,  such as installing solar panels on noise barriers, to harnessing hydropower from the  East River.

The proposed waterfront design has broad esplanades for both cyclists and pedestrians,  as well as designated areas for sports and recreational activites. The FDR highway is  tucked under a sound barrier that is fitted with solar panels and integrated into the  waterfront. The East River can now boast of a reservoir that straddles Manhattan and  Roosevelt Island creating a pedestrian/cyclists link between the two islands, while the  East River is allowed to freely flow underneath the reservoir, powering an energy station  run on hydropower.

The waterfront park and reservoir not only offer a much needed “greening” of New York  City, but offers a breathing space that enhances the city’s quality of life and redefines  it. As the “Close the Gap” jury statement reads: “From the PLANET team’s focus on  increasing access to open space in Manhattan with an eye to integrating new and old  infrastructure to the Stokoe’s design, which challenges us to rediscover the power,  potential and history of the East River, these teams took the hopes of countless East  Side residents and brought them to life.”