In one of the most expansive sections of Hudson River Park, Chelsea Cove unites three adjacent piers and the adjoining waterfront to give an increasingly dense Manhattan neighborhood generous open space. Separated from the West Side Highway by a low sloped berm and a loose ring of evergreen and deciduous trees, the Pier 63 lawn bowl accommodates everything from picnics to sledding to yoga classes.
Allowing for passive and active recreation at the water’s edge, the lawn bowl borrows the boundlessness of the Hudson River.
The openness of the central lawn contrasts with the spatial complexity of the adjacent landscapes, which include an entrance garden and café designed in collaboration with Lynden B. Miller, a stone sculpture installation by artist Meg Webster, an open-air carousel, and a world-class skatepark. The piers that define the edges of the cove provide comfortable spaces for a variety of activities while offering views across the cove, back to the city, and up and down the river.
The rebuilt Pier 64 rises ten feet as it stretches into the river, creating an upward slope that evokes a feeling of anticipation. Trees and shrubs border the Pier 64 lawn, framing views of the New Jersey riverbank beyond.
EPS foam and lightweight fill minimize pile and deck loads and are weighted down by enough topsoil to ensure structural stability during floods. Planting and topography soften the transition to the skate park, barely visible in the background.
A gentle rise at the edges of the lawn bowl yields opportunities for seasonal recreation, such as winter sledding and summer picnics. The rise acoustically and visually shelters the lawn bowl from the six-lane highway to the east and elevates trees above flood levels.
In the face of rising sea levels and extreme weather events, Chelsea Cove sets a new standard for resilient waterfront parks in New York City. The design proved its flood tolerance during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, when 60 percent of the park was flooded with up to five feet of saltwater, yet survived.