New Designs for Chelsea Waterside Park Unveiled | chelseanow.com

New Designs for Chelsea Waterside Park Unveiled

The “water maze” area for older kids will include higher streams of water, and more challenging obstacles. Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

The “water maze” area for older kids will include higher streams of water, and more challenging obstacles. Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

BY SEAN EGAN | The push for the redesign of Chelsea Waterside Playground took another step forward on Thurs., Nov 10, at Community Board 4’s Waterfront, Parks & Environment Committee meeting. That’s where the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT; the entity in charge of the park) presented their new plans for the area, including a complete redesign of the space, as well as detailed renderings of the new play areas for the children — which, the designers hope, will offer unique play opportunities that emphasize the imagination.

“Everything’s built around this concept of imaginary play,” explained Friends of Hudson River Park Playground Committee member Greg Wasserman, who said it was “really important that water and sand were front and center here,” and also noted that the designs address issues of visibility and shade that the community had brought to HRPT’s attention earlier in the year.

On hand to present the designs was Scott Streeb of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., the firm hired to undertake the redesign. As presented in bubble diagrams, the park will have two new water and sand play areas: one for toddlers/young kids with less intense jets, and one for older children.

A bubble diagram, highlighting the major areas of the park — including the separate water areas for toddlers and older children. Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

A bubble diagram, highlighting the major areas of the park — including the separate water areas for toddlers and older children. Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

Eschewing traditional play equipment, these areas will feature different concrete structures (like stairs) for kids to run around and climb on. Amongst these structures are large, repurposed sculpted animal heads — originally from a W. 39th St. slaughterhouse, saved from a Landmarks Preservation Commission warehouse — which will be transformed into spray fountains. Furthermore, Streeb noted that there will be benches and “deep sight lines” so parents can better watch their children, as well as new plantings to compliment the existing trees to aid in shade. “If the parents are comfortable, kids will stay,” Streeb commented.

The centerpiece of the remodeled park is the so-called “pipefish tower,” a large, spiraling wooden play structure designed by Denmark-based firm Monstrum to resemble the titular animal. Calling it a “fantastic and unique piece of play equipment,” Streeb noted that the pipefish would offer “a range of play and risks” including climbing, sliding, and balancing. The tower’s location would serve as a sizable buffer zone between play areas dedicated to the young kids and the older ones. 

The uniquely designed “pipefish tower” centerpiece is a piece of play equipment designed to encourage imaginative play. Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

The uniquely designed “pipefish tower” centerpiece is a piece of play equipment designed to encourage imaginative play. Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

“We also want to have more quiet moments, where kids can be off on their own,” noted Streeb, expressing hope that the design of the park would encourage kids to play “off the beaten path,” and to return to the park frequently.

The Committee was vocal in their support for the new designs, opting to pen a letter to the full board of CB4, commending the work done thus far in realizing the renovated space. Currently, fundraising efforts for the project have amassed a little under its approximately $2 million budget. According to the HRPT reps, they hope to finish fundraising soon, and start construction in the fall of 2017, for a spring 2018 opening. Visit hudsonriverpark.org/playgrounds for more info.

The toddlers’ water area, pictured here, includes animal head statues (from a former W. 39 St. slaughterhouse) repurposed as water fountains for play. Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

The toddlers’ water area, pictured here, includes animal head statues (from a former W. 39th St. slaughterhouse) repurposed as water fountains for play. Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

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  1. […] of CWP had been circulating for quite some time, as reported in a Nov. 16, 2016 Chelsea Now article. Scott Streeb of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. had tackled the redesign, presenting […]