Construction is about to begin on the New York Wheel, the Western Hemisphere's largest Ferris wheel

Construction is about to begin on the New York Wheel, the Western Hemisphere's largest Ferris wheel

Architecture firm S9, a division of Perkins Eastman, is moving ahead with plans for the New York Wheel, what will soon take shape as an enormous Ferris wheel on the Staten Island waterfront.

According to development watch-blog Yimby, construction cranes have appeared on the Staten Island site of what will one day be the largest Ferris wheel of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

Perkins Eastman says the wheel is “designed as a composition of geometric forms clad with vertical terracotta fins, strategically interrupted by terraces, ramps, and stairways that are inspired by the juxtaposition of the surrounding foliage and the rock formations at the Palisades Sill”

The wheel design and manufacturing will be fronted Mammoet-Starneth, which specializes in giant wheel construction. The company also worked on the London Eye, built along the River Thames in 1999. Additional plans for a similar project in Dubai are also in the pipeline.

In 2012, the London Eye was, according to David Marks of Marks Barfield Architects, “the most visited paid-for attraction” in the UK and third in Europe after the Eiffel Tower and Disneyland Paris. The New York Wheel has similar aspirations, but its success hinges on whether visitors will opt to take the five-mile, free ferry ride from Lower Manhattan. Keeping tourists on Staten Island has been a long standing issue for New York City officials, according to the New York Times. “Every year, two million tourists ride the Staten Island Ferry, and yet most of them never leave the terminal,” the newspaper reported.

Aiming to be open seven days a week and 350 days a year, the wheel would operate from 10:00a.m. through 10:00p.m. or midnight, staying open until 2:00a.m. on special occasions. It can also accommodate up to 1,440 people per ride which the New York Wheel website equates to over four million rides a year.

This will be made possible by the deceptively large “pods” that will carry up to 40 passengers each up 630 feet into the sky giving them an uninterrupted view onto manhattan and over the island. The pods will be predominantly glass which should facilitate sweeping panoramic views and be safely secured to the wheel itself by what looks to be a steel structure.

Similar to the London Eye, the New York Wheel will resemble that of a bicycle wheel when viewed from distance. Though it is not known yet, Starneth is likely to emulate the ever-moving structure in London which traveled at a leisurely 0.6 mph.

During the London Eye project, Marks told WNYC that getting financial backing was the toughest part of the project. However, Rich Marin, president and chief executive of the New York Wheel, told the New York Times that this will not be an issue for the wheel. Goldman Sachs is funding the project with $130 million in capital.

The landmark wheel isn’t the only project set to adorn the island’s North Shore Waterfront. Covered by AN in 2012, the wheel will be accompanied by a 1,100 square foot space for Empire Outlets by SHoP Architects in collaboration with Lee Weintraub Landscape Architects. According to New York Daily News, the outlet will be home to household names such as “Nordstrom Rack, H&M, Gap Outlet, Banana Republic Factory Store, Guess Factory Store and food options such as Starbucks, Nathan’s and Applebee’s.”

At a ceremony in April, Donald Capoccia, principal at BFC Partners, the developer behind the outlet project said, “Empire Outlets is a well-timed catalyst that will trigger the transformation of the North Shore and position Staten Island for sustained growth into the foreseeable future.”

The New York Daily News reported that developer BFC Partners and the New York Wheel will be required to cough up “$2.5 million a year in rent to the city for the land and pay $300,000 to maintain the area, including the waterfront esplanade.”