This project aims to return the waterfront to the city proposing the design of a public aquarium and park on the East River in New York. The site is located in Queens and is connected to the city primarily through 44th Dr. The design maintains this axis as the main entrance to the site from the East and proposes a new main access from the river on the West. In addition, the project wants to strengthen New York’s resilient development of the water edge continuing the riverfront promenade from Hunter’s Point South and connecting it to the site through a bridge on the south side.
The new building develops along the north edge of the project site while a soft topography and landscape grades down to the water on the south. As a defense strategy against flooding events, the north portion is elevated 4 feet while the south area features wetlands and a natural treatment of the water edge.
The park and the building program develop linearly along the East-West axis: the two extremes of the building are public, while the private program of the aquarium develops in the center portion. Arriving from the East, the first exhibit in the aquarium, the Amazon, uses natural light; moving forward the following exhibits need controlled artificial lighting. Coming from outdoor, the visitors’ eyes slowly adapt to a darker environment. In section, the first level is devoted to public space and the aquarium, the second and third floors are used primarily for research and animal care, while the roof level is accessible from the park and provides spectacular views to the city’s skyline.
Public and private flows are separate, yet they develop together along the same axis; the flexible activities of the park will add to the fixed program of the aquarium creating a sequence of alternating public and private spaces.