Bade Stageberg Cox was announced as the winner of the New York Restoration Project’s EDGE/ucation Pavilion Competition for a boat storage building and open classroom on the Harlem River. Entitled 'Edge Portals', BSC’s design takes advantage of the site’s interlocking profile with the river by placing two new buildings on twin peninsulas at the water’s edge. Oriented towards the water, the buildings are like portals which frame views of the landscape and create a direct connection with the river. Unlike much of New York City’s new waterfront development, Edge Portals blurs the line between shore and river, allowing water to enter the buildings and the landscape and encouraging visitors to explore beyond the water’s edge through boating, walking out onto the floating dock, and engaging with the site’s diverse ecology.
The boat storage building and the open classroom building will be constructed using prefabricated steel structural elements, with concrete floors and a metal skin of expanded weathering steel panels, a material which naturally weathers to form a permanent protective patina. In addition to allowing water to flow freely in and out of the structures, the metal panels will register contact with water, thus serving as a record of local storm activity.
A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
In addition to its storm resilience, the project will allow NYRP’s education team to embrace the natural environment and storm events as learning opportunities. The open classroom will have sustainable features that complement and interact with the natural environment, such as a rainwater skylight that provides dappled light within the space and acts as a rainfall gauge, a rainwater cistern that measures yearly rainfall and uses the water for garden irrigation, and water tables at which children can conduct water testing and analyze microbial samples.
In tandem with the building designs, BSC developed a series of strategic interventions throughout the site to enhance one’s understanding of the natural environment and local ecology. The site topography will direct water to gauges designed to register the daily, seasonal and yearly flow of water. 100-year flood markers will be developed as benches, and ‘tidal mirrors’ located in the science cove will capture water, marking high and low tides. A solar garden with photovoltaic panels will power path and building lighting, and a rock garden at the site’s lowest elevation will collect storm water and boat washing run-off.
The ‘science cove,’ a waterside space for educational programming and active engagement with the river, is created by gangways leading from the peninsulas to a floating dock. This framed portion of the river provides a safe, protected cove to host a variety of activities - seining, wildlife observation, oyster gardening, and boating instruction protected from boat wakes and river turbulence.
Awards: AIA Award of Merit 2014
Tim Bade, Jane Stageberg, Martin Cox, Andrew Skey, Rob Bundy, Jessica Rivera Bandler, Eimear Arthur, Sooran Kim