Seaport City Coming Closer to Reality?
By: Nikolai Fedak on August 2nd 2013 at 8:00 am
Mayor Bloomberg’s vision to protect New York from future storm surge events and effects relating to ongoing climate change may be coming closer to reality, as NYEDC is now soliciting RFPs for the planned Seaport City development, which will form a new buffer between Manhattan and New York Harbor along the island’s southeast corner – the development is described as a ‘multi-purpose levee.’
Originally unveiled earlier this summer – as part of ‘A Stronger, More Resilient New York‘ – the Seaport City project may actually be legitimate, and not just a pipe dream. New York has seen several proposals involving landfill go nowhere, including an ambitious plan to connect Governor’s Island to Manhattan – that has obviously not yet occurred. Still, much of coastal Manhattan is landfill, and past projects like Battery Park City show the idea to be feasible.
Battery Park City is an especially apt comparison in light of Sandy, which barely touched the neighborhood despite the fact that it juts into New York Harbor. According to The New York Times’ Sandy flood map, much of the neighborhood actually avoided the rise of the Hudson – and the entirety actually became a separate island at the height of the surge. Adjacent blocks of Tribeca and the Financial District were devastated, and parts of the World Trade Center site were also flooded.
Much like the Financial District, the South Street Seaport vicinity was heavily damaged, with water rising up to ten feet. Many establishments have only just begun to re-open, as the damage was so great – the neighborhood is home to an older building stock, and many buildings power equipment was completely destroyed.
There is enormous pressure for new real estate in New York, so planning a new neighborhood that also functions as an enormous levee makes sense, and also makes storm protection more cost-efficient – though one thing the city must address is FDR Drive, which would bisect the new neighborhood from Manhattan. Making the same mistakes that have occurred with Battery Park City would be unwise, and leaving FDR Drive elevated would divide the new Seaport City, potentially creating a sterile environment.
As the new neighborhood could stretch from Battery Park to 14th Street - if the scope does follow what the initial plans indicate, as seen below – an inventive solution could put FDR at the existing shoreline, and capping it with the new neighborhood. This way, the levee could serve to protect from flooding, while also fixing traffic and re-unifying the East Side with the waterfront.
A truly bold move would have buildings face the harbor themselves; there is no reason seawall-quality steel could not be integrated into a facade, and a design for Seaport City that integrates its structures into a sea wall would be innovative and save an enormous amount of money, while allowing the sea wall to rise higher in the few unprotected spots between new buildings. Humans have gone beyond creating shorelines, and are now on the verge of controlling them; Manhattan would be an excellent first example.
Construction Update: Fulton Center
By: Nikolai Fedak on July 25th 2013 at 4:00 pm
Exterior work is wrapping up on Fulton Center, which is looking better and better as it approaches completion – opening is slated for 2014. Even in the summer, much of the building is stuck in the shade; the genius behind the oculus is already apparent in the above photo set, as it will allow for significantly more light to enter the transit hall, even while much of the building is in the shade.
Fulton Center will also contain 65,000 square feet of retail space, another major contribution to future pedestrian activity in the neighborhood. With both Fulton Center and the World Trade Center’s mall set to open in the near future, the FiDi may actually be on its way to becoming a prime shopping destination for tourists.
Besides the shopping, eleven subway lines will be linked beneath Fulton Center; it may not be the largest station, but it will prove to be an important waypoint for many commuters. Fulton Center is a vast improvement from the old subway stop, which was simply a maze of passageways, and will hopefully help further accelerate the FiDi renaissance.
Construction Update: Calatrava’s Transit Hub
By: Nikolai Fedak on June 10th 2013 at 12:00 pm
Calatrava’s Transit Hub is now rising out of its enormous pit, and the first sign of visible progress is the beginning of the steel spine which will connect all of the enormous ‘wings,’ the Transit Hub’s most distinguishing design element. The terminal will eventually reach 150 feet in height, far greater than the current stub, and the Hub will be an integral part of the new World Trade Center.
With construction wrapping up on both One World Trade and 150 Greenwich, the greater World Trade Center site is now two years away from regaining some semblance of normalcy; the completion of the Transit Hub will be pivotal in returning the site back to the pedestrian realm.
The Transit Hub’s cost has skyrocketed to $3.9 billion, which is almost as much as One World Trade Center – originally, the project was expected to cost $1.9 billion. No design is justified by such an exorbitant price-tag, and though the Transit Hub will probably look phenomenal, $3.9 billion could certainly have been spent on far better things.
Completion of the Transit Hub is expected for 2015, which is one year after Fulton Center is expected to open – taken together, the opening of both train stations will have a dramatic impact on the Financial District, which will finally have dramatic, visible, and attractive focal points for mass transit.
Construction Update: Fulton Transit Center
By: Nikolai Fedak on February 1st 2013 at 4:53 pm
The Fulton Center is almost finished, and glass is finally being installed along the base. The project will connect 11 different MTA lines, so it will be incredibly important once complete. The actual transit center is quite underwhelming for a price-tag of $1.4 Billion, though perhaps the interiors will prove otherwise. The architects of the project are James Carpenter Design Associates.
The ‘oculus,’ which rests on top of the base, is the Fulton Center’s distinguishing element. Unfortunately it lacks prominence, and the below photos show the oculus’ lack of visibility from most angles. The aesthetic of the oculus is secondary to its function–allowing natural light into Fulton Center, in turn creating an open and inviting public space. This is something all public works projects should strive for.
Completion of the Fulton Center is slated for mid-2014 per the MTA. Like all timetables released by the MTA, that is probably tentative.
Calatrava’s Transit Center: Completing New York’s Downtown Renaissance
By: Nikolai Fedak on April 9th 2012 at 8:12 pm
|Image from Urban Omnibus|
While many New Yorkers bemoan the ugliness of Penn Station, a dramatic new transportation gateway is now under construction in Lower Manhattan.
The most visible progress since the 9/11 attacks has been the reconstruction of the new World Trade Center, but another notable aspect that seems to have been forgotten is the massive transit center now being built. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the World Trade Center Transit Hub is going to be a monument to modern design and engineering, as well as cost-overruns given the project’s now $3.8 billion pricetag (although figures vary, it’s always wiser to use the higher estimates).
Originally slated to cost $2.2 billion, the project’s cost-overruns certainly aren’t unwarranted given the complexity of the project. While downtown subway lines are currently connected in a jumbled warren of underground passageways, the Calatrava hub promises to link everything in a stately and world-class terminal fitting for Lower Manhattan. In total, eleven separate subway lines (the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, E, J, N, R, and Z trains) will be linked together, along with the PATH train to New Jersey. The new Fulton Street Transit Center will also be connected to the Calatrava Hub by an underground link.
All in all, the new Center will encompass 1.3 million square feet of development. 800,000 square feet will be used for transit purposes, while the Center will also feature 500,000 square feet of retail space. The Port Authority’s website further states that 250,000 people are expected to use the Center each day, a staggering number. Calatrava’s Hub will be the third largest transit center in New York in terms of square footage, although aesthetically it will only compare to Grand Central as a gateway to Manhattan.
While the chief purpose of the Hub may be functional, the new gateway is nonetheless extremely aesthetically pleasing, perhaps partially explaining the $3.4 billion pricetag. Soaring white fingers complete the ‘oculus’ of the Hub, with the overall structure reaching 150 feet in height. The main hall will be extremely grand, with the oculus and retail component combining to create a truly phenomenal pedestrian experience.
Calatrava’s terminal manages to combine grandeur with effortless simplicity, and the result is sure to be stunning. Work is well underway, and completion is scheduled for 2015. More information can be found at the World Trade Center website.
|The oculus taking shape: image from lofter1 at Wirednewyork via the Earthcam|