Ecologically Minded Landscape Design

The focus of Hudson River Park Trust’s redevelopment of New York City’s Pier 26 in Hudson River Park was the ecology of the Hudson River estuary. OLIN’s Philadelphia studio made it their mission to make those connections to the river deliberate and apparent. “The Trust looked at Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 as a platform for education; our design points to ecological features throughout the park, but the most important feature is always the river,” says OLIN project manager Demetrios Staurinos. The 2.6-acre park walks people through five unique ecological zones from the bulkhead to the river, a “curated journey through the landscape,” describes OLIN CEO and partner in charge Lucinda Sanders.

An 850-foot-long wall takes visitors from the bulkhead to the water’s edge. Along the river, the deck includes a 400-foot-long wall. OLIN turned to Landscape Forms’ Studio 431 to engineer and construct the wall, which wraps around and cantilevers from the pier. The height of the wall starts at 42 inches and rises to seven feet before descending back to handrail height. It also integrates furnishings, including a 35-foot-long bar, bar stools, and 95 linear feet of lounge benching. “We wanted to create a large piece of furniture, not something that simply sat atop the pier. “The wrapped wall acts as a skin, a singular gesture, and a sculptural experience that is beautiful from all angles,” says OLIN lead designer Trevor Lee.

Studio 431 considered how each piece of the wall would be assembled and installed, how the construction would lend itself to future repair and maintenance, and how to maintain the design integrity of OLIN’s concept. It comprised 3,500 individual boards, 438 of which were unique profiles, each requiring its own CNC programs. The wall was secured to the pier with a series of stainless steel fins spaced several feet apart, anchored into the pier, and then concealed by the continuous boards wrapping the pier; there are no exposed fasteners.

“We knew Studio 431 had the quality and skill to rise to the challenge, and they did an extraordinary job. The wall is seamless and feels like the deck itself is folding up and over the pier wall. It truly is a showcase piece,” says OLIN senior landscape architect Jamee Kominsky.

Two custom sheds with bench swings offer visitors a seating experience different from the communal benches along the deck and wall. One shed is constructed of perforated metal and the other of ebony wood.

The Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 project is an example of how Studio 431 and Landscape Forms work together to furnish sites with custom, modified, and standard elements. Standard Harpo chaise lounge chairs and Parc Centre tables and chairs, modified Austin bench swings and bar stools, and custom sheds, wall, and integrated benches and tables offer a consistency that met OLIN’s vision to create a variety of seating experiences.

Learn more about Studio 431 and explore other custom projects.

Published on March 15, 2021

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