Our master plan for the East River Waterfront transformed a forgotten post-industrial shoreline into a truly urban park.

Since 2004, we have designed and delivered a suite of related projects that together serve to reclaim and reinvigorate a long-neglected stretch of Lower Manhattan riverfront. Extending from the Financial District through the historic South Street Seaport to the historically underserved neighborhoods of the Lower East Side, our work on the East River includes new parks, several active-use recreation piers, neighborhood services such as play areas and dog runs, integrated bikeways, and designated structures for retail, dining, and entertainment at every scale. Throughout the project, from the master plan to the smallest architectural detail, we have engaged closely and concertedly with a vast range of community groups, stakeholders, and government entities. The result is a robust new civic amenity, embraced and enjoyed by visitors and residents alike.

Taking cues from New York City’s 19th century tradition of two-story recreation piers, Pier 15 is a center of activity for visitors and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. A planted open space is elevated to a second level, restoring views of the waterfront that have not been seen in generations. The second level also frees space below for a café, a maritime education center, a shaded promenade, and a “lookout” that steps down to the water—allowing Pier 15 to function as both a public park and a working pier.

1.5 miles long
14,000,000 square feet of public space

With its industrial past and its commercial present—as well as its proximity to the soaring steel structure of the elevated FDR Drive—this project could not to be rooted in the picturesque English tradition that is prevalent in parks throughout New York City. Instead, we worked to imagine and create a new type of recreation space for the city: proudly urban and celebrating its time and place.

Barstool seating at the water's edge gives tourists and Financial District workers a natural place to stop and rest. The railings widen into tabletops at each row of seating to safely accommodate electronic devices or a bag lunch.
A step-down at the foot of Wall Street is a popular place to get near the water. The bottom steps are submerged at low tide. A rail there keeps park visitors safe while allowing an unobstructed view of the river from the walkways above.

The space beneath the highway is optimized and enlivened with suitable programming. A restaurant occupies a purpose-built pavilion, celebrating its proximity to the elevated structure through the details and materiality of its construction. The entrance is built around an unembellished steel column.