Decoding Design

Re-imagining New York's East River waterfront

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An ideas contest calls for new visions for Manhattans east side waterfront area, giving designers a opportunity to re-think greenways as well as the city's relationship with water.

Last month, a non-profit organization called for a design competition to rethink New York City's East River waterfront, an area of Manhattan that has fallen into disrepair.

The ideas contest is looking for innovative designs from architects, landscape architects, urban planners, designers and students to submit ideas that "generate dramatic and original concepts for the east side's waterfront park, jump starting a process that aspires to the transformation of the entire East River pedestrian experience," reads the Reimagining the Waterfront's website.

CIVITAS, the group behind the contest, is a nonprofit that works to update and improve land use on the Upper East Side and East Harlem in Manhattan. It has offered $5,000 for first place, $3,000 for second place, and $2,000 for third place, with $100 to each of five honorable mentions.

The ideas contest is a way of mobilizing the the neighborhood as well as the political and design communities while support and funding is allocated.

"Through the design-ideas competition," said the group, "we hope to establish greater equality with other New York City waterfront parks by developing a spatially rich and varied scheme that will enhance the east river waterfront’s narrow confines with recognition of its total urban context."

The area in question spreads from 60th to 125th streets, and in some places is even sinking into the water.

"Waterfronts are transitional boundaries between New York City’s hard and soft edges, between life on land and life on water," writes Sharon Pope on Metropolis Magazine's blog.

Pope also notes that NYC Councilmember Jessica Lappin has already secured money for the worst areas as well as an engineering study, both good first steps toward the realization of the new project.

Reimagining the Waterfront is only the beginning. The competition closes on January 15, 2012. Following the selection of winners is sure to be a campaign to raise money to make the East Side into a new green space for the city.

[Via Metropolis]
Photo: Bogdan Migulski/Flickr

Beth Carter

Contributing Editor

Beth Carter is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has worked for Catalyst magazine, the New York Times Syndicate, BBC Travel and Wired. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure