East River Bridge, NYC.

‘ The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearing on the walk in the street ,and the passage over the river ; The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming with me far away; The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them; The certainty of others-the life, love, sight, hearing of  others.…cross from shore to shore… Stand up ,tall masts of Manhattan! stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn!

By Walt Whitman ‘ Crossing Brooklyn  Ferry’  Brooklyn 1848

Areal view bridge - Courtesy of Giuliano Fiorenzoli

Areal view bridge – Courtesy of Giuliano Fiorenzoli

Our city must, and will grow in the direction of its surrounding waters .Traditional   port-related uses of the  waters of the  New York City harbor  have become partially obsolete,  permitting   ideas  for urban  living to take almost complete precedence.  We must assess the scope of this transformation, and how to ensure this trend to be a meaningful one.

 Architects   are central to the debate and play a vital role in proposing visions and solutions worth considering . Efforts must be made to sustain and promote public confidence in not considering a priori  the waters  surrounding Manhattan ,Brooklyn  a dangerous  and  hostile reality. We cannot continue to build our city in defiance of nature.

Vibrant architectural projects, resulting from an extended domain of ideas, both rational and imaginative, are to be researched and put into practice. Hypotheses   for alternative use of all riverfronts, including   the quality of their spaces, programming and land use are to become real  proposals and tentative explanations of such phenomenon.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park ,facing  the  waters  of the  East River  successfully offers, in its  current  public gathering , sun light, fresh air, tranquility, silence and a sense of  well being  for  all visitors.

Such elements are worth enhancing   because they increase the quality of urban life both in a physical and psychological sense, affecting the individual spectator, and  large groups of people.

Areal view bridge - Courtesy of Giuliano Fiorenzoli

Areal view bridge – Courtesy of Giuliano Fiorenzoli

East River Walkway

The  East River Walkway  Bridge  project  follows  the broad  expansion and re-qualification  of  both the Brooklyn waterfront and the Downtown Manhattan promenade that has continued in this decade.

The park proposal, being a landscaped pedestrian bridge spanning the East River, creates an artificial new common ground for all people. The site is one of the most spectacular urban scenarios Lower Manhattan has to offer.

The two opposing shorelines on this narrow strait of the East River contain, the Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1 and the South Street Sea Port, Pier15, Pier 17 esplanade. They mirror each other and are separated   by water, at a close, almost physical contact with the Brooklyn Bridge

Drawing view of bridge center full opening - Courtesy of Giuliano Fiorenzoli

Drawing view of bridge center full opening – Courtesy of Giuliano Fiorenzoli

The proposed  East River Walkway Bridge  transforms both  existing shores  into a  new and distinctive, multi layered   urban park, adding  on either sides of the river appropriate  landfills, landscaped  grounds , viewing  terraces  , ramps ,sitting areas , bicycle’s  paths.

The elevation of both riverfronts  grounds to the height of the proposed bridge unifies the new park  into a single landscaped  urban corridor, for the pleasure of all pedestrians , allowing the river boats traffic to continue, undisturbed . It adds, in scale and program a tridimensional reconfiguration of the existing  Brooklyn Bridge Park activities and natural amenities.

 The passage conceptually connects and adds ‘surface’ to both Manhattan and Brooklyn urban grids, emphasizing their unique street life and human affability. The resulting sensorial  experience is an act of  joyful  urban  discovery ,a welcome  alternative  to the  spatial confinement  offered  by  the claustrophobic verticality  of the many  surrounding  metropolitan   buildings .

The experience of both shores is provocative, intense and liberating. One has the opportunity to admire in full view the horizon, the changing city lights of the open NYC bay, Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront their history and urban presence. Through this spectacle of practiced leisure one feels admiration for the city and emotionally a strong sense of collective achievement.

The value granted to the ownership and privacy of all interiors in our city is balanced by a similar, If not greater, appreciation  for all outdoor  spaces . Public grounds are urban treasures to any  city, and inevitably offer physical  and social  contact. They ensure the sense of belonging to the inhabitants of  the  larger community  thereby promoting  social cohesion and identity. They become visible distinctive landmarks and icons to the image of the city.

Underbelly view of bridge - Courtesy of Giuliano Fiorenzoli

Underbelly view of bridge – Courtesy of Giuliano Fiorenzoli

The pedestrian bridge measures approximately 1,550’-0” in length.  It displays a relatively low, un-intrusive profile, unwilling to compete in visibility or construction with the nearby landmark   Brooklyn Bridge.  Contrary to many bridge structures it appears understated not grand and self referencing formal expression. It’s primary purpose is the suspension of a landscaped 60’-0” wide wooden deck surface to be walked on and enjoyed. The required structural sequence is comprised of a modular, repeated series of spans, measuring 140’-0”in length. A secondary wave like steel structure stretches parallel to the piers, adding strength and stability.

A vast number of soil containers are placed in the resulting cavities of the bridge construction and geometry, allowing harvesting for the plants and trees. Such natural vegetation is to be monitored by  an integrated  water irrigation system . An understanding of the aquatic surrounding environment and   sustainable design and construction techniques will be considered and utilized wherever possible

 The continuous   outdoor wooden deck, available for pedestrians and cyclists, unfolds over the bridge with a sub-level weather protected passage that makes the crossing of the river possible all year round offering protection from low temperatures, wind, rain and snow. All river traffic, patrol coast guard boats, ferries ,and  private boats  will be able to continue their daily   activities   navigating  through  45’0”high  arcades .The bridge can be opened  upon  demand at its center  thus providing  a greater   75’-0” high passage  for tug boats or other similar commercial ships.

Night-time viewing  of the  space of the river is mysterious ;  a  spatial void  of vast unexplored  dimensions   offering  itself as a natural  stage of all sorts of urban  activities and  water  events.

Upon demand ,two  staged  and  highly  visual  waterfalls  originate  from the full length of  the bridge’s  upper  edges  after pumping   the water  directly from  the river .

It is a unique spectacle for all, one that celebrates  both  Manhattan ,Brooklyn  glamour and cultural life with light and sound.

Project credits 

Architect : Giuliano Fiorenzoli

Production and  analysis of representation: Adin  Rimland

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