Sturgeon-Themed Playground Coming to Tribeca's Waterfront

Rendering of proposed playground, looking east toward North Moore Street, with Atlantic sturgeon, left, and shortnose sturgeon. A fence with double-sided seating will encircle the playground. The green poles are meant to suggest the reeds that grow along the river bottom where the sturgeon live. Rendering: Olin via The Tribeca Trib

Sep. 29, 2017

A new playground is coming to Tribeca, inhabited by a couple of very big fish.

Construction will begin next year on a sturgeon-themed play space on the bulkhead between Piers 26 and 25, the Hudson River Park Trust announced. It will be part of the grand concept for Pier 26, near Hubert Street, by the landscape architecture firm Olin. That plan, designed for both quiet and active recreation and with an ecological slant, was presented last December.

What is being called the science playground invites kids to climb, slide down and explore inside structures that resemble two endangered species: the Atlantic sturgeon and its smaller cousin, the shortnose sturgeon. It will be located next to a river study center or estuarium that is yet to be designed or fully funded, according to trust president Madelyn Wils.

As shown in a series of renderings to Community Board 1, the larger sturgeon will have three entrances, a translucent “play bubble” at the end of the sturgeon, a large slide and climbable scoots (the sturgeon equivalent of scales). Informative features, such as a possible swim bladder, would be inside the larger fish.

The smaller sturgeon will have a handicap accessible slide that exits from the creature’s mouth.

Children can play on low-lying green nets, representing aquatic grass, at each end of the playground. Poles would rise above the play area, meant to recall the reeds that grow along the sturgeon’s river-bottom home. A wall, with seating on both sides, would surround the playground and a map of the sturgeon’s spawning area in the Hudson River would be embedded in the paving.

Although the playground is meant as a compliment to the estuarium, it is set to be built before the final funds are raised for the study center, Wils said. The concept for the building, to be designed pro bono by Raphael Vignoly, is complete and now “we are preparing materials to make presentations to some top donors.”

“We need a major donor to come in first before we can really publicize the project,” she added. In addition to $10 million dollars pledged by the state, an as yet unspecified amount still needs to be raised.

The estuarium will be run by Clarkson University in conjunction with The River Project, which will feature live aquatic creatures in aquaria designed by Peter Sollogub of Cambridge Seven Associates, a prominent designer of aquarium exhibits.

“We have plans for how we’re going to integrate our things into the larger estuarium,” Cathy Drew, executive director of The River Project, told the Trib. “And we’ve already begun phase one.”