The East River Blueway Plan | WXY architecture + urban design

The East River Blueway Plan is a community-based waterfront initiative that establishes a planning and urban design framework for Manhattan’s East River waterfront, from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 38th Street. The Blueway plan provides a vision for an accessible waterfront and aims to protect critical infrastructure, attenuate storm surges and help manage stormwater issues.

The plan focuses on supporting habitat restoration to enhance biodiversity and improve water quality. It also proposes green infrastructure, such as bioswales and other stormwater management devices to prevent river contamination. To increase opportunities for activity along the waterfront, the plan recommends creating a continuous and connected esplanade along the waterfront, and providing better access points to the esplanade. Pedestrian and bicycle routes along the waterfront would also help decrease emissions from vehicular traffic.

Informed by more than a year of public consultations, eventually the plan identified six priority projects along the study area to achieve its goals. The projects include the Blueway Crossing and Flood Barrier, which would act as flood protection for the Con Ed power station; the Brooklyn Bridge Beach, which would re-establish public access to a natural beach beneath the bridge; the Corlears Hook Park Landscape Bridge, which would serve as gateway to the East River park; the Esplanade Freshwater Wetlands, which would catch and clean stormwater runoff; the Stuyvesant Cove Boat Launch, a floating dock for New Yorkers to explore the river by non-motorized craft; and the Skyport Garage Rooftop Activation, which would transform the roof of a garage into a garden with space for food vendors.

Since the publication of the Blueway Plan, funds have been allocated to implement several of the proposed projects. In summer 2013, a budget of $8 million has been set aside to create the Brooklyn Bridge Beach and to deliver a boat dock along the waterfront.

Additional Credit

  • Consultant: S + M Studio
  • Engineer - Consulting: AKRK; Arcadis; Philip Habib + Associates; Weidlinger Associates
  • Engineer - Environmental: eDesign Dynamics
  • Landscape Architecture: Judith Heintz Landscape
  • Lighting: Domingo Ganzalez Associates
  • Strategic Advisory: HR&A Advisors

Photo Credit

  • © WXY architecture + urban design

The East River Blueway Plan

  • Architect: WXY architecture + urban design
  • Owner: LES Ecology center; MBPO; NYS Assembly Member; NYS Dept of State Division of Coastal Resources
  • Location: Manhattan's East River Waterfront

Jury Comments

The Blueway Plan is a true model for resiliency; it provides a vision of an accessible and dynamic waterfront yet it also addresses the urgent issue of climate change and its effects.

This plan was thoroughly informed by the public and in return promises to bring much delight to New Yorkers with new opportunities to experience the waterfront and an overall enhancement to the quality of life.

The concepts behind the East River Blueway Plan have not just resilience, but also livability at their core.

2014 Institute Honor Awards for Regional and Urban Design Jury

  • Marcy McInelly, AIA, Chair
  • Urbsworks, Inc.
  • Portland, Oregon
  • David Gamble, AIA
  • Gamble Associates
  • Boston
  • Manuel de Lemos, AIA
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • The Honorable Tom Murphy
  • Senior Fellow, Urban Land Institute and
    former Mayor of Pittsburgh
  • Washington, DC
  • Brad Tomecek, AIA
  • Tomecek Studio Architecture
  • Denver

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