By Bill Parry
When the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks moved back to the East River this summer, NBC chose Hunters Point South Park for its broadcast, giving the nation a look at what many Long Island City residents call the “borough’s front lawn.” Since opening in August 2013, the park has received numerous awards for its design and development.
Now the entire 30-acre Hunters Point South development, which will include up to 5,000 housing units when completed, has received a Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines certification for excellence in design.
“We are honored that Hunters Point South Park has received recognition for its resilient, equitable and environmentally healthy design,” Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said. “The Waterfront Alliance has been a great partner of NYC Parks and a tireless advocate for the city’s coastline.”
Known as the WEDG program, it was established by the Waterfront Alliance last year as a series of guidelines and incentive-based ratings systems with input from design experts, urban planners and government agencies to make waterfront developments more resilient, environmentally healthy, accessible and equitable for all.
Hunters Point South becomes the first project to be certified since the launch of the guidelines, making it a model for future waterfront projects across New York City.
“When working to build strong neighborhoods on New York City’s waterfront, it is imperative that we not just provide opportunities for New Yorkers, but also do so in a sustainable and resilient manner that ensures the future safety of our communities,” city Economic Development Corp. President Maria Torres-Springer said. “To be certified by the WEDG program is an incredible distinction for the Hunters Point South project, placing another feather in the cap of what was already the largest affordable housing development in New York in 40 years.”
Among numerous WEDG credits, points were awarded for the project’s resiliency, access, ecology, public outreach and even maintenance plans. Hunters Point South garnered over 200 out of 401 possible points with 130 points needed for certification.
“The WEDG certification of Hunters Point South shows how far we can go in terms of innovative waterfront design and demonstrates New York City’s leadership in responding to future storm surges and other impacts of climate change,” Roland Lewis, the president and CEO of the Waterfront Alliance, said. Rob Basch, president of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, called it a high honor and credits the architect and designer for the way the project is developing.
“The park design team of Thomas Balsley Associates/Weiss Manfredi and Arup, envisioned Hunters Point South Waterfront Park as an international model of urban ecology and a world laboratory for innovative sustainable thinking,” said Balsley, founder and principal designer. “The integrated design weaves together infrastructure, landscape, and architecture to transform this previously underutilized site into new ecological corridors that anticipate the inevitable patterns of flooding and rising water levels along the East River. WEDG outlines waterfront design best practices in an easy to digest format that makes it a valuable tool for the client, stakeholders and design team to understand and replicate on future projects.”
Arup principal Tom Kennedy called Hunters Point South an opportunity to do something significant.
“The outcome and the features highlighted by WEDG speak directly to the emphasis our organization places on its commitment to shaping a better world for the communities in which we live,” he said. “The entire team, including our design team, the city agencies, and especially NYCEDC, worked tirelessley to achieve this new space, which will set a benchmark for subsequent waterfront spaces in the city.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr