“Brainstorming Ways to Turn Tappan Zee Into Park
Peter Applebome. April 4, 2012
One drawing envisions a sprawling Seurat-like park scene with the towers of Manhattan beckoning in the distance. Others call for two ghost piers beginning at opposite sides over the river but not meeting, elegantly terraced gardens and plantings, a simple walkway surrounded by wind generators, photovoltaic cells and other examples of green energy.
The idea of turning the existing Tappan Zee Bridge into a walkwayand park when a new bridge is built remains more alluring dream than likely reality, though when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared it in February to be an “exciting option,” that seemed to guarantee it would at least get serious scrutiny.
But since the proposal was floated last fall by Paul Feiner, supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh in Westchester County, enough people have become entranced by the idea that some have been imagining what it might look like, and have put those imaginings on paper.
Milagros Lecuona, an urban planning professor at Columbia University who with Mr. Feiner leads the Tappan Bridge Park Alliance, which is advocating the project, has worked with her class all semester on what it would take to make the park a reality. The New York Times also put the challenge to architecture students in Laila Seewang’s advanced urban theory class at Cooper Union. Ms. Lecuona is hoping to put together an international design competition to attract ideas for the Tappan Zee as park.
Still, the ideas already generated reflect the way the proposal is consistent with trends in preservation and urban design. After all, to the north is Walkway Over the Hudson, reclaimed from a 1.2-mile abandoned railway bridge linking Poughkeepsie and Highland. To the south, along the West Side of Manhattan, is the High Line, built on what was once a 1.45-mile-long elevated rail structure.
Lisa Tziona Switkin, an associate partner with James Corner Field Operations, was one of the designers of the High Line, and she cited it as evidence that the Tappan Zee project, no matter how outlandish it might sound, has potential.
“When the High Line was first proposed it was an impossible dream, and it became an exercise in making the impossible possible,” she said. “As a designer I’m incredibly excited about this kind of opportunity; something that crosses boundaries about what it is and what it is not. Is it a building? A bridge? A park?”
Still, many bridge experts and planning professionals urge caution, doubting it will be possible to turn the existing bridge into a three-mile, 30-acre park when a new $5 billion bridge is built. (And a more pressing issue for now is what kind of bridge that will be and whether it should be built without provisions for new mass transit.)”
Via: The New York Times
Photo: The Tappan Zee Bridge, which is likely to be replaced soon, is being reimagined for alternative uses. Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Time