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Construction Begins at Chelsea Waterside Park, Phase 2 Manhattan

Manhattan, NYC (October 2021)  Construction has begun at Chelsea Waterside Park. This multi-phase project will temporarily close portions of the park to accommodate a new and exciting park design developed by Abel Bainnson Butz, LLP Landscape Architects (ABB). ABB’s transformative design reimagines the park while recognizing its importance as a strong local destination. The design offers new and enhanced programming including a new comfort station, picnic area, and open lawn, expanded dog runs, reconstructed synthetic turf athletic field, and enhanced entries and green spaces. The redesign deemphasizes the former dominant and oversized pedestrian thoroughfare that previously bisected the park yet still provides a strong connection to Hudson River Park’s waterfront.


“One of the things that we really liked about this design is that it cuts back on the hardscape; it’s more of a botanic experience; a calming, lush, green experience. And it is a park within itself and not just a pass-through, which was a major goal of this project.” said Kevin Quinn, Senior Vice President of HRPT at a 2020 Community meeting.


ABB’s design proposal was built on three key tenets: 1) re-focus the park inward, 2) salvage and re-use materials, and 3) re-image the park’s character and identity. These principles are manifested through the multi-layered organic design which incorporates the thoughtful re-purposing of materials. Existing granite, bluestone, stainless steel mesh fence panels and wood bench slats from throughout the site will be salvaged and repurposed in both the landscape and comfort station building.  “We saw a great opportunity to express environmental stewardship through this project by trying our best to salvage existing durable materials from the park and incorporate or repurpose them in our new design.” said Terri Burger, Partner and Lead Designer at ABB. The design preserves healthy, mature existing trees and retains the recently reconstructed playground and basketball courts within the park.


CDR Studio Architects, PC designed the new comfort station and collaborated with ABB to site and successfully integrate it into the overall park design. The comfort station, which is centrally located and sits at site’s high point to protect against future flood events, is split into two distinct volumes tied together with a unique overhead canopy.  The building’s location and massing organization creates a gateway to the athletic field, transitioning park users from the park center to the action-packed athletic field.  The comfort station façade will be clad with tapered granite slabs constructed from salvaged granite site walls creating a varied relief. The building further expands project sustainability through the integration of canopy mounted photovoltaic panels.


Originally known as Thomas F. Smith Park, this City Park was transferred to the state, expanded, and reconstructed in early 2000 as part of the Route 9A construction project, and renamed Chelsea Waterside Park. At that time, Chelsea Waterside Park served as an important transition parcel and pedestrian thoroughfare from the urban fabric of the City to the new waterfront park on the Hudson River.  The neighborhood now includes many new residential complexes and has seen its population grow, partially as a result of the success of Hudson River Park. This new population values and spends significant time in their neighborhood parks. Community feedback, coupled with the ongoing efforts of various user groups and Manhattan Community Board 4, have helped shape the vision for the park. The Chelsea Waterside Park, Phase II project exemplifies how public spaces can evolve over time to meet current community users’ needs and how, with the support of a willing client (HRPT), the redevelopment of public spaces can be more sustainable.


Abel Bainnson Butz, LLP, founded in 1968, is an award-winning landscape architectural design and site planning practice based in NYC. ABB has served as Lead Landscape Architectural Consultant on hundreds of projects across the NYC metro area, including Hudson River Park’s initial phase from Clarkson to Horatio Streets and Piers 45, 46, and 51.




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