Terminal Capacity

Terminal Capacity

The World Financial Center is set to receive a new floating, five-slip ferry terminal. Currently under construction in a shipyard in Texas, the new $40 million terminal was designed by the engineering and architecture design division of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PA), and will replace a temporary two-slip facility currently in operation at the Battery Park City esplanade. Serviced by NY Waterways, the new terminal will continue to connect Lower Manhattan to Hoboken and will increase passenger capacity to an estimated 16,000 people per hour, up 7,000 from the temporary facility.

After the World Trade Center PATH station was destroyed during 9/11, ferry service to and from Lower Manhattan increased dramatically. While the temporary terminal served the extra traffic, the five-slip permanent facility was planned before 9/11, in the late 1990s, according to Donald Fram, PA’s chief architect. New York Waterways has run ferry service to and from Battery Park City since 1989.

This June, the 160-by-176-foot terminal base will be tugged from Texas to the New York area via the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. In preparation for its ocean voyage, the craft is being constructed with a deeper keel—making it more like a ship than a barge. The base will arrive first in Brooklyn, where it will be outfitted with a pitched fabric roof and interior elements. The ferry terminal is expected to be completed at the end of the year, at which time it will be anchored to two steel piers at the  World Financial Center. (In 2003, the temporary terminal was moved roughly 400 feet north of the project site to make way for the erection of these piers.)

When the terminal opens in the beginning of 2007, it will be a recognizable addition to the waterfront, with its dramatic roof. At night the up-lit fabric will glow and during the day it will catch daylight and radiate it into the pavilion below.

While a visible, luminous presence on the waterfront was important to the designers, a bigger concern was transparency. “The key thing about it,” said Fram, “is that it’s an extension of the esplanade. We wanted to keep it as open as possible in terms of use and not obstruct the view of the water.” The terminal links passengers to land via two glass-covered, ADA-compliant gangways that penetrate the bulkhead of the esplanade. Glass windscreens surround the public areas to shelter visitors, but the building itself is not environmentally sealed. Heating elements on columns, however, will keep temperatures inside the terminal comfortable throughout the winter.

The terminal will not only serve ferry passengers but the general public, with concessions and other open areas. “Anyone who wants to meander down there can do so,” said Fram. 

The World Financial Center Ferry Terminal is the latest in a series of Port Authority-designed projects in Lower Manhattan. The PA’s architecture and engineering office was also responsible for the WTC Site Viewing Wall and the WTC Temporary PATH Station. 

Currently, the PA is working on the modernization of Newark Liberty Airport’s Terminal B, which will begin construction this summer.