Ground has officially broken on a new science-themed play area at Hudson River Park’s Pier 26.
The play area, located at N Moore Street, will be a 4,000-square-foot marine science-themed space featuring custom, interactive sculptural elements where children can learn, play and be inspired by wildlife and the Hudson River habitat. Designed by OLIN, the Pier 26 Science Play Area will be the fifth children’s play area in Hudson River Park and is the beneficiary of a private fundraising campaign by Hudson River Park Friends.
“Hudson River Park is one of our city’s most treasured green spaces, especially for our youngest residents, which is why we’re so excited to start construction on the Pier 26 Science Play Area,” said Noreen Doyle, President and CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust. “This Play Area has been thoughtfully designed to advance two key aspects of our mission — play and environmental education. We are incredibly thankful to Hudson River Park Friends, Mike Novogratz, Borough President Mark Levine, Council Member Chris Marte, and all who donated generously to make this imaginative project come to life. Hudson River Park is so grateful to all our elected officials and our community for their tireless advocacy and support, year in and year out.”
“I want to congratulate everyone involved in Hudson River Park’s capital campaign to create this singular playground that will inspire so many children and help teach them about the importance of the Hudson River estuary,” said Connie Fishman, Executive Director of Hudson River Park Friends. “Thank you to all our generous donors and for the support from our elected officials, with a special thank you to Mike Novogratz for his incredible generosity and devotion to improving his community.”
The specialized playground aims to serve as an outdoor extension of the environmental programming planned for the future Hudson River Estuarium and will complement the ecology-focused Pier 26. The play area will include custom-fabricated play structures in the shape of two endangered sturgeon species, the Atlantic sturgeon and the shortnose sturgeon, both of which are native to the Hudson River. Kids will be able to climb inside the structures, which are in production by the Danish play equipment design and fabrication team at Monstrum, and explore fish “anatomy” while also interacting with the marine-oriented play features to learn about local wildlife that resides in the Park’s 400-acre Estuarine Sanctuary.
Trees and other plants will be added to the space, along with a perimeter seat wall safety surfacing, climbing nets and other play features. Once it’s completed, the play area will complement the adjacent Pier 26, the 2021 winner of the Municipal Art Society’s Best Urban Landscape award, which was also designed by OLIN.
In September 2022, the Hudson River Park Trust awarded a comprehensive design contract for the long-planned Estuarium, a center for marine science research and public education on river ecology, to be located immediately adjacent to the Science Play Area. Once both projects are finished, the Pier 26 Science Play Area and the Estuarium will complete the upland section of the Tribeca park area.
“It gives me such pleasure to see this playground getting started,” said Michael Novogratz, former Chair of Hudson River Park Friends. “It will spark the imaginations and curiosity of thousands of NYC children while giving them a great new space to play and learn about the Hudson River’s unique ecology. I am proud to have kick-started this fundraising campaign with a lead gift for its construction. Our whole community should support the Park in whatever form they are able. It provides such enjoyment to millions of New Yorkers.”
“This playground will give our youngest New Yorkers an appreciation of the Hudson’s wildlife and give them the opportunity to connect with the marine habitat that surrounds our borough,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “Through this playground, Hudson River Park is molding the next generation of environmentalists, which is critical to New York’s future. I’m proud that we could use my office’s capital funding to support such a transformative project.”
The Play Area is expected to open to the public in 2023.