Science Play Area Begins Construction; Long-Planned Estuarium Advances
The Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) began construction last week on a new science play area at Pier 26 in Tribeca. Designed by the landscape architecture firm Olin, the plan envisions a 4,000-square-foot marine science-themed space that will include custom-fabricated giant play structures in the shape of two endangered sturgeon species that are native to the Hudson River—the Atlantic sturgeon and shortnose sturgeon.
When the science play area (budgeted at approximately $4 million) is completed next year, children will be able to climb inside the sturgeons and explore fish anatomy (such as the swim bladder), while also engaging with other marine-oriented play features and learning about other local wildlife that calls the 400-acre Estuarine Sanctuary home. Trees and other plantings will be integrated into the space, along with a perimeter seat wall, safety surfacing, climbing nets and other play features.
Community Board 1 chair Tammy Meltzer commented, “Olin has designed a one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience that will delight families and spark curiosity about the local habitat for generations.”
The December 14 groundbreaking was also attended by (among others) State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, and City Council member Christopher Marte. “Residents of this community, especially children, will soon have an exciting new recreational space where they can relax, play and learn about marine science and the Hudson River habitat,” said Senator Kavanagh.
Borough President Levine added, “this will give our youngest New Yorkers an appreciation of the Hudson’s wildlife and give them the opportunity to connect with the marine habitat that surrounds our borough. Through this playground, Hudson River Park is molding the next generation of environmentalists, which is critical to New York’s future.”
In a separate (but related) development, HRPT in September awarded a $3.4 million contract to the Tribeca-based architectural firm of Sage and Coombe, to develop preliminary designs for the long-planned Estuarium, a 10,000-square-foot center for marine science research and public education on river ecology, which is planned for the upland portion of Pier 26, directly adjacent to the science play area. HRPT estimates that it has raised approximately half of the total funding that will be necessary to build that facility, for which no start date has yet been announced.