The New York Restoration Project, a non-profit founded by Bette Midler dedicated to bringing private resources to under-resourced communities citywide, launched the EDGE/ucation Pavilion Design Competition. NYRP invited eight young and emerging firms in NYC to create a state-of-the-art, flood-resistant outdoor recreation and learning center for Sherman Creek Park in Inwood/Washington Heights:
The competition was made as a response to the severe damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. In keeping with Mayor Bloomberg's report "A Stronger, More Resilient New York City", the competition highlights the significance of designing and building strom-resilient structures and landscapes. But even more so, the competition highlights the resilience of New York's civilians.
The architects’ proposals will be reviewed by a Technical Advisory Group, composed of leading design, technical and open space experts Adrian Benepe, Senior VP and Director of City Park Development, The Trust for Public Land, Thomas Christoffersen, Partner, BIG Architects, Douglas Friend, NY Regional Director/Chief Project Manager, Ocean & Coastal Consultants, Nate Grove, Senior Manager, Marinas, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, Kim Mathews, Principal, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects and Steve Zahn, Natural Resources Supervisor, NY State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The winning design will be selected by a Jury composed of world-renowned architects, sustainability experts, local stakeholders and civic decision-makers comprised of Todd DeGarmo, CEO and Principal, Studios Architecture, Amy Freitag, Executive Director, NYRP, Ed Hollander, President, Edmund Hollander Landscape Architects, Jennifer Hoppa, Northern Manhattan Parks Administrator, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, Venetia Lannon, Regional Director, NY State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 2 Office, Bette Midler, Founder, NYRP, Caroline Payson, Director of Education, Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, Ian Van Praagh, Business Negotiations Manager, Port Authority of NY & NJ, John Rhea, Board Chairman, NYC Housing Authority, and Christopher Sharples, Principal, SHoP Architects. The Public Design Commission of the City of New York will be represented by James Polshek of Ennead Architects, who will serve in an advisory capacity to the Jury. Susanna Sirefman of Dovetail Design Strategists is the competition advisor overseeing the development and management of the competition.
As stated in NYRP's press release, "The winning design will turn the flood plain into a storm-resistant, interactive outdoor classroom, where NYRP educators can expand programming with activities such as bird-watching, bog and wetland exploration and oyster gardening. The plan includes secure boat storage, which will promote waterfront stewardship and revive recreational rowing, once vibrant in this part of the Harlem River. With secure storage and a porous outdoor classroom, the pavilion will withstand flooding by the tidal Harlem River."
"The pavilion’s site, also known as the “Former Boat Club Site,” was a major center for rowing and other water sports along the Harlem River throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and was home to several dozen boat clubs until the 1950s. Throughout the decades following, the area became an illegal garbage dump before NYRP intervened and partnered with NYC Parks to conduct a massive cleanup project in 1996. The group removed tons of debris, silt and toxic waste, and replanted the shoreline with native plant species.
"'NYRP has played a lead role in restoring Sherman Creek Park over the years,' said NYC Parks Commissioner, Veronica M. White. 'They have created a celebrated public space, keeping it clean and welcoming, while renovating it to feature many new amenities that make it a premier waterfront destination.' Today, the park is maintained by NYRP, and encompasses five beautifully reclaimed acres, with a cherry tree grove, a saltwater marsh, a children’s learning garden, the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse, a scenic bike path, a freshwater pond, and more."
“'NYRP has transformed Sherman Creek Park from a wasteland into a beautiful, waterfront park,' says NYRP Founder Bette Midler. 'The addition of this new Education Pavilion will provide future generations of New Yorkers with unique opportunities to learn about their natural environment and explore the Harlem River.'"
The designs will be evaluated for their durability and accessibility, in addition to innovative response to flood resistance and sustainability. The design and construction of the Pavilion will mark the completion of NYRP’s revitalization of the Sherman Creek Park, NYRP’s crown jewel of public parks. The winning design will be announced in November.