Bold Flood Protection Ideas Eyed for North BPC and Part of Tribeca

Among the options being considered for protecting the north end of Battery Park City along the esplanade is tiered seating leading up to Stuyvesant High School, similar to what is shown here on the River Quay in Australia. Photo: AECOM

Mar. 03, 2020

A  new “mini-shoreline” and floating walkway at the north end of Battery Park City. Flip-up gates beneath the nearby bike path. Flood barriers outside the P.S. 234 playground. Roll-up gates on the Stuyvesant High School plaza. These are some of the flood protection options now being considered for northern Battery Park City and part of Tribeca. 

At a public forum last week the Battery Park City Authority and its consultants, AECOM, presented their latest design studies for barrier systems that would protect the neighborhood from the next Sandy-size onslaught and worse—storm surges as high as 21 feet that are anticipated in the next 30 to 40 years. (The Authority is separately looking at flood protection measures for the western and southern edges of Battery Park City.)

A plethora of options—actually options within options—are being studied, each using a different combination of five barrier types, like those shown here. (All images below are by AECOM.)

From geotechnical investigations to storm modeling to further design refinements, much is yet to be done before a scheme becomes final. “There’s a lot of coordination and study to go,” said AECOM project manager Garrett Avery.  

Its a lot to ponder, but here’s an overview of some of the possibilities for what will be a project costing more than $85 million, due for completion in fall 2022 or early 2023.


Two types of approaches, each with three different options, are being considered for Battery Park City’s north esplanade, from Stuyvesant High School on the east to the residential tower Tribeca Pointe on the west. One of the two approaches calls for narrowing the esplanade from 23 feet to about 11 feet and creating a second walkway on higher ground next to Stuyvesant High School. Below is a conceptual drawing of one idea, called “River Theater,” which illustrates how the elevation might be raised. The design provides room for the storage and operation of deployable barriers.


A bolder set of options calls for extending the footprint of Battery Park City as much as 22 feet north. Gonzolo Cruz, AECOM’s design director, calls these options a “huge benefit” because the extra space allows more room for maintaining and operating the deployable barriers, and for adding greenery and other amenities. The most unusual of them, “where we dare to imagine a completely different configuration,” as Cruz put it, calls for a floating walkway moving up and down with the tides like a floating dock, and allow for possible inwater habitat creation that the designers say could soften the bulkhead edge. “It is still a very conceptual idea,” Gonzalo said. Here is AECOMs drawing of what that might look like.


Protecting northern Battery Park City means connecting the barrier system to higher ground farther inland. In other words, to Tribeca. To do so means figuring out the best barrier system and route to get there. AECOM designers are looking at three different Tribeca Streets: Chambers Street, Harrison Street and North Moore Street. 

Chambers Street

In this concept, the street alignment between the north esplanade and Tribeca runs along the Stuyvesant High School plaza, which itself has different versions of protections under study. Flip-up gates would be housed along the south side of Chambers Street and all the way through its intersection with Greenwich Street, with flood protecting benches and planters outside the P.S. 234 playground wall.

Harrison Street

If Harrison Street is chosen, either a wall or flip up gates would be installed on the north sidewalk next to Borough of Manhattan Community College and Independence Plaza’s 40 Harrison Street. But unlike the Chambers Street option, it would not need to include the intersection with Greenwich Street.

North Moore Street

Installed on the sidewalk next to the BMCC parking lot and the northernmost Independence Plaza tower, 80 North Moore Street, would be a combination of roller gates and planted walls that are two feet tall at their highest and also would not cross Greenwich Street.

Getting There

To connect to North Moore or Harrison Streets from Battery Park City’s north esplanade, AECOM is considering a few ideas. One calls for flip-up gates across West Street, then either flip-up gates or roller gates and protective benches and planters on the sidewalk next to BMCC. (The structural columns needed for the flip up gates could double as sculptural features or public art, AECOM noted.)

Another idea for connecting to one of the two Tribeca streets (also by way of flip up gates across West Street) is to put a structure on the east side of the bike path that would support a vertical flood wall rising 8.5 feet when deployed, and could create a canopy over the bike path, something like the photo below.

The final option includes flip-up gates in the bike lane, flush with the ground when not deployed, and continuing beneath the West Street crossing at Harrison Street, or up to North Moore. The standing columns for the gates could become lighting elements that create an illuminated corridor at night.