Nearly four years after landscape architecture firm OLIN’s plans for Pier 26 in Lower Manhattan were revealed to the public, the eco-park, cantilevering over the Hudson River, is finally open to the public.
Today’s kickoff marks the end of seven years of design and construction, and Pier 26 is the first new pier to open in Hudson River Park in ten years. The 790-foot-long concrete pier has been transformed and now features a variety of different habitats along the walkway, including five different sections representative of the native ecology: “woodland forest, coastal grassland, maritime scrub, rocky tidal zone, and the Hudson River,” according to a press release from the Hudson River Park Trust, who oversees the park.
The pier’s most unique feature is the 15,000-square-foot Tide Deck, an artificial wetland planted with native grasses, shrubs, and trees that’s intended to replicate the pre-development Hudson River shoreline. The elevated walkway comes to a jutting terminus here, and in the future both guided tours and learning opportunities will take place on the Deck, handled by the River Project, the Trust’s educational and scientific department.
“Seven years in the making, we are proud to open this entirely unique pier at a time when Hudson River Park has taken on new importance for so many in the face of the current health crisis — providing a much-needed oasis in a city with limited green space,” wrote Madelyn Wils, president and CEO of Hudson River Park Trust, in the press release announcing the pier’s opening. “By designing a pier that brings New Yorkers closer to the city’s natural wildlife and habitat, we hope to offer critical hands-on learning opportunities for students, places to play, and plenty of quiet spots for people to take in the nature around them. And while Pier 26, like the rest of Hudson River Park, was originally conceived as a way to help New York City recover from 9/11, we hope this new pier will play a vital role as we once again look ahead to recovery. Thanks to the hard work and dedication from Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and Citi, we look forward to welcoming families from all over the city to this exciting new park.”
The $37.7-million pier was jointly paid for by Citibank, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, and the city. Design work for the Tide Deck was paid for by New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund.
Unfortunately for the “giant metal fish” fans out there, the opening of OLIN’s 4,000-square-foot playground nearby, featuring enormous climbable Atlantic sturgeon and a shortnose sturgeon (designed by the Danish firm Monstrum) is still a ways off. The Rafael Viñoly Architects-designed Estuarium, a two-story education center sited between Pier 26 and 25, will also open at an undetermined point in the future as the Trust continues to raise funds for its construction.