Gilbane Building Company joined Hudson River Park Trust in celebrating the groundbreaking of the Pier 26 Science Play Area at N Moore Street in Manhattan’s Hudson River Park. Gilbane is managing construction of the new recreational space in Hudson River Park. The groundbreaking was marked by a ceremony held at Pier 26 on Dec. 14, 2022.

“Gilbane is excited to continue its partnership with Hudson River Park Trust by helping to build this imaginative new recreational and educational resource,” said Raquel Diaz, Public Sector Area Manager at Gilbane Building Company. “We offer our congratulations to the many leaders and supporters who have made this project possible. We look forward to realizing OLIN’s creative and thoughtful design, building a space that connects New York’s children with the Hudson River and its habitat.”

The 4,000-square-foot marine science-themed space is the beneficiary of a private fundraising campaign by Hudson River Park Friends and will feature custom, interactive sculptural elements where children can learn, play and be inspired by wildlife and the Hudson River habitat. Designed by OLIN, the specialized playground will also 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 is expected to open to the public in 2023.

The Pier 26 Science Play Area will be the fifth children’s play area in Hudson River Park and will serve as an important educational and recreational space that further advances the Trust’s extensive science and environmental programming. The Play Area will include custom-fabricated play structures in the shape of two endangered sturgeon species that are native to the Hudson River — the Atlantic sturgeon and shortnose sturgeon. These larger-than-life structures are already in production by the Danish play equipment design and fabrication team at Monstrum, which specializes in creating whimsical, nature-based designs that spark imagination. Children will be able to climb inside each of the two sturgeon structures and explore fish “anatomy,” such as a sturgeon’s swim bladder, and interact with other marine-oriented play features to learn about local wildlife that resides in the Park’s 400-acre Estuarine Sanctuary. Trees and other plantings will be integrated into the space, along with a perimeter seat wall, safety surfacing, climbing nets and various other engaging play features for all ages to enjoy.

Hudson River Park Friends, the Trust’s nonprofit advocacy and fundraising partner, launched a successful capital fundraising campaign last year, raising nearly $4 million for construction of the Play Area from a combination of private and public sources. The initiative was championed by former Friends’ Chair, Mike Novogratz, who provided a $1.3 million match for private donations. In 2022, New York City Council Member Chris Marte and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine also contributed funding for this project, expanding on a previous award from former City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and enabling the design to include a misting feature and other landscape improvements. New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh has similarly pledged financial support for children’s play in Tribeca, which will help fund critical water play improvements and safety surface features.