Begun in 2002, the Battery Park City Streetscape Project
is an urban design project for the improvement of the streetscapes,
parks amenities and connections, and perimeter security at
the World Financial Center. The project includes a comprehensive
study of innovative prototypes to provide a higher level of
security at sensitive areas while maintaining both an appropriate
pedestrian experience at the street and the recognized vocabulary
of the neighborhood.
Battery Park City is a carefully crafted community that
is a combination of commercial, residential, and recreational
buildings and public spaces. The Authority overseeing development
has attended to strict design guidelines that have defined
the character of the neighborhood. There is a commitment to
sustainable design, which is manifest in several “green” residential
buildings. There is great concern for the public and pedestrian realm, and care
has been taken to ensure and
maintain a consistent vocabulary of materials and structure.
The public realm, including the streetscapes and park spaces,
iscarefully tended by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy.
The Parks Conservancy insists upon environmentally friendly
building materials, carefully constructed planting soils,
and plant materials of the highest quality.
To understand and clarify the relationships on the site, the
Project Team focused its Pre-Design Analysis upon six key
elements for assessment and recommendations: Pedestrian Circulation,
Public Amenities, Public Transportation, Private Vehicular
Transportation, Commercial Vehicle Circulation, and Security.
The Pre-design Analysis documented the existing conditions
and context to clearly define elements of the project scope
and to serve as a base for future work on the Streetscapes
Assessment began with a review of previously completed
studies and plans, observations of existing conditions, and an overview
of future projects and activity. The World Financial Center
Traffic Analysis and Recommendations, completed in 1999, served
as an initial framework for understanding the existing conditions
and an approach to subsequent pre-design recommendations.
The 1999 report represented expected “normal” conditions for occupancy,
traffic, and other programmed uses
prior to 9/11.
Additional review was completed of available planning documents
and information. Current data at the World Financial Center
and throughout the neighborhood were gathered in July and
August 2002. Independent security interviews were held with
significant tenants and stakeholders of the World Financial
Center area. Interviews were also conducted with BPC Parks
Conservancy and other groups.
Security for the World Financial Center was of critical importance,
and the Design Team studied threat vectors for high- and low-speed
approaches to the buildings concerned to determine appropriate
levels of protection. While vehicular threats are often studied
using general assumptions and are resolved with commonly applied
arrest techniques, the Design Team focused their response
relative to this specific context. The design responds to
the specific movements of which vehicles are capable in these
specific circumstances, rather than relying on generalizations.
The Design Team negotiated a Creative Research and Development
Agreement (CRADA) with the US Army Corps of Engineers to study
and test immobilization techniques for a variety of vehicle
arrest assemblies. Insights gleaned from tested military barriers
and defensive techniques are re-scaled to the urban streetscape.
The Design Team also studied the neighborhood context, realizing
that the installation of security measures would dramatically
alter the nature of pedestrian and public space. The desire
for security had to be balanced with a need to maintain a
quality of life and public space for both the users and residents
of Battery Park City. Numerous urban issues were reviewed
in combination with security requirements in order to synthesize
a common solution.
Environmentally, the site is fairly harsh, as it is on the
waterfront and was built on sandy fill. Tall buildings and
all the attendant urban stress, combined with stiff winds
off the water, make for difficult growing conditions and pedestrian
Establishing connections and providing for safety are the
critical issues throughout all of the options explored and
recommended. Axes of pedestrian circulation and visual connection
are used to guide each of the suggested designs. Each axis
acts to link the amenities of Battery Park City into a useful
and accessible whole.
Recommendations for the Vesey Street region and the World
Financial Center are guided by security needs, traffic control,
and pedestrian access. Truck queuing is controlled and regulated.
The configuration of curbside barriers and lay-by lanes can
improve building stand-off and security while enhancing the
streetscape and safety for pedestrian crossings. Closing selected
streets enhances security stand-off at the New York Mercantile
Exchange and provides additional park space and direct pedestrian
access to the Irish Hunger Memorial.
Improvement for the North Neighborhood residential region
focuses on safe pedestrian crossings and neighborhood amenities,
including a new seating area, a dog run, and a plant nursery.
The quality of the public space was a driving force in
the design of security measures that were to be implemented in
subtle ways throughout the site. Traffic calming measures
such as raised crosswalks and narrowed intersections allow
for both safer pedestrian passage and forced vehicular slow-down.
The materials used were those common to the established vocabulary
of Battery Park City, with the infusion of sparkling new elements
with dual purposes. Lit glass benches stretch the length of
Vesey Street to provide wayfinding and rest for the pedestrian
and a barrier, in combination with a “Tiger Trap”,
to vehicles. This axis is crossed by the steel and specialty
glass shade structures on North End Avenue, which provide
shade in the daytime and reflected light at night.
The project combines diverse programmatic requirements
into a synthesized urban design and management solution. This approach
is in accord with the Battery Park City Authority’s
mission to develop and maintain a world-class residential
and commercial community in Lower Manhattan. Through design
strategies and innovative security measures being explored
with the US Army Corps of Engineers, these disparate elements
are combined into a viable whole.
Design and Construction Documents are in progress or completed
for various work areas. Construction began in the Fall of
2004 for the initial phases of work: Vesey Street Improvements
and the North Neighborhood Islands.
The project is administered by the Battery Park City Authority
and cared for by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy.