The Path to Flood Protection for North Battery Park City (and a Bit of Tribeca)

Detail of rendering of a flood protection and landscaping option, called Esplanade Park, for the north end of Battery Park City that envisions extending the edge of the esplanade, with a river overlook, farther north into the Hudson. Flood barriers would be buried beneath plantings, with stairs and seating also providing protection. Rendering: Battery Park City Authority and AECOM

Jul. 30, 2020

In their ongoing planning to protect the north end of Battery Park City from flooding, the Battery Park City Authority and AECOM, its consultants, showed their chosen path for an alignment of barriers, from Battery Park Citys north esplanade into Tribeca. (See image below.) During the Community Board 1 remote public meeting on July 23, they also presented their most refined concepts yet for the complex flood protection system. This is the latest stage in a design process that was last shown publicly in February. The Authority is separately looking at resiliency measures for the western and southern edges of Battery Park City.

Once completed, the North Battery Park City Resiliency Project will transform the look of the esplanade outside Stuyvesant High School and the Tribeca Pointe residential building, and make some major changes to the landscape along the barrier route into Tribeca.


The photo above shows the area of the esplanade that is part of the resiliency project. The work extends to the northeast east corner of Rockefeller Park and would connect to a barrier system, yet to be designed, for the Battery Park City neighborhoods west side. Since February, AECOM project manager Garrett Avery said, the consultants have gone through “a dizzying number of studies” that look at ways to hide barriers beneath new landscaping, and create other barriers such as stepped seating that could serve a double purpose. The designers also sought to incorporate new, handicap-accessible walkways, and an overlook that extends beyond the bulkhead. What they’ve come up with are two options, with the possibility of a hybrid of the two.

River Walk

This plan envisions a barrier beneath a steep embankment, between the esplanade and Stuyvesant High School and Tribeca Pointe, that is concealed by plantings. Additional flood protection would take the form of stepped seating that is integrated into stairs near the turn into Rockefeller Park, with trees added for shade. “We continue to make sure it is as green as it possibly can be,” Avery said. A winding ramp would provide access up to street level at River Terrace, and an “overlook bridge” might extend over the river. One of the major downsides of this plan is an esplanade that narrows down to widths between 10 and 15 feet—too narrow for both pedestrians and cyclists. (The width between the school and the edge of the esplanade is only 43 feet.) “There would need to be an encouragement for bikes to either not go that way or perhaps a dismount zone for that length of that area where it is space constrained,” said Gwen Dawson, the Authority’s vice president for real property.

Esplanade Park

This scheme solves the problem of the narrow esplanade by adding up to 22 feet to the footprint. That would provide a “more comfortable esplanade environment” for cyclists and pedestrians, said Gonzolo Cruz, AECOM’s lead designer on the project, and allow for more ramp access and for a more gradual slope in the landscape. But building into the river means potential permitting obstacles as well as jurisdictional conflicts with the Hudson River Park Trust, officials said, and it is unclear how much the structure would be allowed to expand, if at all, into the river. “That’s where one of our tricky predicaments is introduced here,” Avery said. “How far can we go?” 


The Bike Path

The top illustration shows the latest concept for a barrier connection from the north end of the Stuyvesant High School plaza (protected by roller gates), and up along the eastern edge of the Hudson River Park bike path to where it would cross at Harrison Street and over to Tribeca. (This is the chosen barrier alignment among three that had been presented in February.) As shown above, a permanent 4.5- to 5-foot wall, with treatments such as murals, planters and benches, could be raised as high as 10 feet when the need arises. Flip up gates would be installed, flush with the pavement, at the West Street crossings.

Along Borough of Manhattan Community College

An 8-foot-high wall behind terraced planters is envisioned alongside Borough of Manhattan Community College between Harrison and North Moore Streets.  

North Moore Street 

North Moore Street, between West and Greenwich Street, the end point of the project, slopes up, so that barriers, shown here along BMCC and 80 North Moore Street in Independence Plaza become increasingly low. This proposed concept includes 1- and 2-foot-high deployable barriers near the corner of Greenwich Street and extending about a third of a block south along Greenwich.

Avery said the next steps include fieldwork by a geotechnical team that will study the subsurface conditions along the barrier route, with more work ahead in advancing the design. “It’s an ongoing process,” he said.