View of the American Copper Buildings from the First Avenue Water Plaza
Grace Dials from SCAPE, explains the features of First Avenue Water Plaza
The final Public Space Potluck of this year took place on Thursday August 22nd at the First Avenue Water Plaza steps away from the East River, attended by over a dozen urbanophiles on a breezy summer day. Grace Dials from SCAPE Studio gave us some interesting facts about the Water Plaza, its design concepts, landscape and sustainability features that make the Plaza unique.
Walking towards the First Avenue Water Plaza, it was evident that children loved this urban oasis, as toddlers splashed water, chased birds, skipped on the concrete blocks, floated paper boats and interacted with the light sensor fountains. Built over a parking structure of the American Copper Buildings, the water feature, scrim fountains and landscaping, mitigates the noise of the FDR highway while creating an engaging space for all age groups with ample seating and lighting. The Plaza recently recently received a 2019 ASLA Honor Award.
Senior Designer, Grace Dials spoke about the design concept, which was inspired by the patterns of cracked dry earth. The site is built to respond to the 100 year flood, equipped with a flood wall, and activated by a layered stormwater collection system that responds to multiple types of inundations protecting the structure. It also features a series of bioswales that collect stormwater run off from the Plaza."There is an approximately eight foot layer sandwich between where we are standing right now and the parking lot, with whole system of pipes for water retention that captures water during heavy rains, diverting it to the East River.", Grace explains. Furthermore, the strong diagonals and spatial configuration was meant to enhance the circulation and access to the water front, creating paths upland to access the 34th Street Ferry stop. The landscape and seating wraps around the building on either side of First Avenue.
Developed by JDS Development Group and designed by SHoP Architects, the American Copper Buildings—with over 700 apartment units of which roughly 160 are set aside as affordable—are an iconic twin tower connected by a three story sky bridge with private terraces and swimming pools.
We stayed a little longer as the sun set, and the tiny lighting fixtures embedded under the perimeter seating started to illuminate the edges of the Plaza like fireflies.