East River Esplanade Renovations and Enhancement
In addition to the new campus construction above the FDR Drive, the university also undertook the complete renovation and enhancement of the East River Esplanade from just south of E. 64th Street to the centerline of E. 68th Street. The design was developed with the participation of Community Board 8 representatives and other members of the local community.
The design enhances the experience of esplanade users by providing a clearly defined pedestrian and bike path as well as landscaping that increases the number of trees, plantings, and opportunities for seating. It includes hardy, attractive greenery, native or adapted trees appropriate to the Esplanade’s harsh microclimate, new pavement and hardscape materials, a variety of seating such as benches, high- and low-back lounge seats, and seat walls located to maximize views, along with pedestrian lighting to provide a safe and renewed waterfront experience.
A new sound barrier (eight feet high on the FDR Drive side) was also installed, running the length of the project along the FDR Drive. Additionally, the East River Seawall was rehabilitated and repaired for the length of the project. The design incorporates innovative, environmentally sustainable approaches to storm-water collection and builds on the existing urban waterfront ecology through the use of natural systems.
The university is establishing a $1 million endowment to maintain the landscaping of the esplanade in perpetuity and has contributed $150,000 to Friends of the East River Esplanade, a conservancy devoted to encouraging the restoration and renovation of the full length of the esplanade.