Long Dock Park Proposal
Beacon, New York
Long Dock Park is a landscape in transition. The ebb and flow of the Hudson River applies constant pressure on the park site to transform and shift. The ultimate prognosis is not good. In addition to the affects of tides and river flood conditions, there is the slow creep of sea level rise that promises to slowly envelop the park as the effects of the fluctuating river become more drastic and the water level gets steadily higher and higher over the upcoming years.
Our concept for the North shore of Long Dock Park considers the precarious condition of the site and welcomes change by celebrating the river’s advance. The park landscape is designed to adapt to the river much as a natural landscape does. This approach takes its inspiration from the river itself noting that as time goes by and the river shifts, new islands are created and wetlands come and go depending on the flow of river sediments.
THE YEAR 2020
We propose a park composed of floodplains and mounds that will be transformed by the river’s rise over time. The landscape is organized on two levels with the current ground level becoming the lower floodplain level. Additional fill will be added to the site to create a series of mounds whose tops will form the park’s upper level. The mounds are elongated in the north south direction to recognize the flow of the river and mimic islands found in rivers in general and the Hudson River in particular. The upstream edges of the mounds are terraced and the terraces are stabilized with low concrete walls to resist flood waters and to deflect the flotsam that the river brings. Bridges connect these raised landscapes so that it is possible to transverse the park at the upper level or step down to the lower floodplain at multiple points along the way.
Investment is kept minimal at the lower level with the land treated as either lawn or meadow. Tree plantings and structures are concentrated on the tops of the mounds. The result is a highly varied park that provides wooded landscapes contrasting with open meadows, low sheltered areas contrasting with higher exposed viewpoints and the opportunity to move back and forth between the two for a wide variety of experiences.
The park has several programmed amenities including a dining pavilion that is designed to accommodate food trucks. There is also a second pavilion located at the farthest point out in the river, a floating pavilion that can be docked in several locations around the park and a maintenance storage building.
The architecture of the park is intended to be very deferential to the overall landscape experience with the structure more a continuation of the landscape than an independent construction. Structures are located on the south ends of the mounds away from the worst force of flood waters and harsh north winds enjoying the warmth of a southern exposure. The buildings have green roofs that emerge out of the landscape. They are built at the level of the mound tops on strong foundations of concrete that will hold them high above future flood waters.
THE YEAR 2050 (and beyond)
In this way Long Dock Park becomes a beloved site for the people of Beacon. For many years families enjoy spending weekend summer days in its varied landscape. They run on the lawn and walk through the woods. The trunks of the trees on the mounds thicken and the tree canopies spread. Unusually high tides and floods come and go. The mounds protect the trees and pavilions and the meadows and lawns quickly recover from an occasional inundation. In fact, the park becomes a destination when the water rises as the best place in town to observe and appreciate the great force of the river.
Over the years the flooding becomes more frequent until the lawns are underwater too often to survive. Eventually the meadows and lawns are replanted with wetland species and the lower level of the park is abandoned to the river. Still the water continues to rise and eventually the park is transformed. It becomes an archipelago of islands linked by bridges. All the pavilions and trees from childhood are still there but now they top river islands and the park and the river have become intermingled.
Currently Long Dock Park is a park with an expiration date. Conventional park improvements are temporary as the river’s advance slowly destroys and erases any investments made. The proposal detailed above takes a different approach. Rather than dreading the rise of the river, the water’s rise is welcomed, and the ultimate transformation of the landscape only realized once high water arrives.