Contestants will be judged on their ability to meet a combination of these 10 goals.
Attention to Entire Esplanade or Specific Sections
CIVITAS seeks designs that will either address the entire Esplanade or specific sections. Several long stretches of the Esplanade consist of a narrow flat pathway, minimum vegetation, a railing, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) Drive uncomfortably close by. Ideas that ameliorate this general condition are encouraged.
Many places along the Esplanade offer special design opportunities. Designs that focus on specific locations or a collection of locations are encouraged. Attention to unique conditions that are problematic (large building overhangs, narrow areas, etc.) as well as conditions that offer special promise (wide areas, existing piers, grade-level changes, pedestrian access, etc.) are strongly encouraged.
Increased Waterfront Access
We seek addition of steps, paths, platforms, docks to allow visitors to be closer to water than the current sea-wall allows. Designs that contemplate new boat and water activities are encouraged. Additional pedestrian bridges over the FDR Drive, portions below the FDR Drive overpass such as the 96th Street crossing, and other improvements to help pedestrians reach the park from more locations are encouraged.
Good Design for Active Use
Currently most visitors to the Esplanade are cycling, rollerblading, jogging or walking dogs and they require the wide continuous bike path. Benches for stopping, shoe tying, stretching and resting get regular use. Shade and plantings are appreciated by all. Baby strollers and carriages predominate only along the wide sunny plaza adjacent to Carl Schurz Park although dog walkers and older visitors are more frequent in this area also. Fishing occurs mostly north of 92nd Street in a few areas where there are places to sit well back from the water. Fishing also remains popular at the 107th street pier.
Good Design for Passive Use
Passive use – reading, sitting, watching the boats –mostly occurs in areas that are well separated from the FDR Drive, well shaded and somewhat private, and areas that offer good views of the river. In summer, sunbathing occurs in the partially obscured grassy areas near Gracie Mansion. Designs that respect the patterns of use and incorporate existing large trees and additional shading and privacy will be favored.
Integrated Design: Sculpture, Lighting, Planting, etc.
Features should work together. Lighting should be continuous along the bike path for safety at night, should be adequate for other activities, and original and decorative lighting that reinforces the design concept is encouraged. At least some minimal planting and vegetation should be continuous along the narrow portions of the Esplanade; more ambitious planting at prominent locations will be favored. Designs that incorporate detailed landscaping concepts are strongly encouraged. The quality of landscaping and planting and an understanding of plants and gardening will be viewed extremely favorably.
Design for New Activities
Contestants should think freely about new activities and uses: consider activities for different generations, activities that allow spectator participation. Locate louder activities so they will not disturb areas for reading and solitude. Light commercial activities such as food vendors and boat rental will be allowed.
Good Use of Existing Amenities
Use of existing trees (especially larger trees), docks and railings is positive where this will not limit the design; this is positive but not the only goal of this exercise. Bold impractical ideas might generate welcome excitement and publicity for this project and are strongly encouraged. Clever and frugal designs supplementing existing conditions with new ideas will more easily get built, and are even more strongly encouraged.
Separation from the FDR Drive
The FDR Drive introduces fumes and noises and spoils the Esplanade in many locations where the the park is most narrow. Clever solutions to this problem will be viewed favorably. Any barrier to the FDR should leave the Esplanade largely visible from the highway; motorists should see the river and police in cars should see the activity along the Esplanade. In an emergency, stranded motorists can climb some portion of the low fence to reach the Esplanade from the road. A combination of intermittent, partial height, vegetative or translucent barriers should be considered.
Recognition of the adjacent neighborhood and nearby urban features will be viewed extremely favorably. Creating east-west spatial and design relationships to weave the Esplanade into the nearby urban fabric is strongly encouraged.
Both Carl Schurz Park and Gracie Mansion’s grounds – especially eastern grounds – can be integrated into the design for public use. Shrewd and thoughtful use of existing park features, including established gardens and large and older trees will be viewed extremely favorably. Designs that preserve or improve upon what is working well in these areas will be viewed favorably.