A model of resourceful reconstitution of marginalized urban space, Chelsea Cove unites three former commercial piers to create 8.5 acres of continuous open space, giving a historic New York neighborhood an active, beautiful, and experientially diverse riverfront backyard.
The Chelsea Cove site is unusually wide for a shore-edge park: two piers frame the cove, extending the city grid out into the river, while in the center of the site, a broad central lawn provides the kind of sweeping open green space rarely found in New York City outside Central Park. The site of pick-up football games, mass yoga sessions, and lots of everyday hanging out, the lawn opens up views across the Hudson and creates a sense of boundlessness at the city’s edge. The lawn is defined by a dramatic landform bowl, which shelters the park from the roar of the West Side Highway and separates the lawn from a necklace of smaller-scale landscapes, including an entrance garden designed in collaboration with Lynden B. Miller, a sculpture installation by environmental artist Meg Webster, a carousel, and a world-class skatepark.
In addition to giving tens of thousands of neighborhood residents some badly needed open green space, Chelsea Cove has established a new gold standard for durable and sustainable waterfront park design in the face of rising sea levels and extreme weather events. MVVA worked closely with marine engineers to repair and reinforce 115 linear feet of sea wall, and to rebuild the pier structures from scratch. The new piers are protected by a system of fenders designed to withstand the impact of ice floes, waterborne debris, and runaway vessels. Throughout the park, the design creates topographical interest while minimizing pile and deck load by using EPS foam and lightweight aggregate fill, weighed down by enough topsoil to ensure that the buoyant foam won’t burst through the landscape during a flood event. These flood prevention and mitigation strategies were tested in October 2012 during Hurricane Sandy. At the storm’s peak, 60 percent of the park was inundated with as much as five feet of salt water. Aside from minor damage to some vegetation, the park’s careful design and sound construction allowed it to survive the storm virtually unscathed.
Hudson River Park