Sometimes, the simplest designs are the most complex.
Take Ben Van Berkel’s New Amsterdam Pavilion at the tip of Manhattan. The pinwheel structure was presented to the city by the Dutch as a reminder of our 400-year-old bond. Part tulip, part windmill, the pavilion was supposed to have opened last spring, but getting those smoothly curving panes of glass just so, as well as working out a deal with the contractors to install them, has delayed the project a handful of times now, putting the grand opening celebration off until
Still, Warrie Price, president of the Battery Conservancy, is as optimistic as the Dutch settlers who came before her. She hopes to have a concessionaire announced by the end of next month, and the pavilion should be up and running by year’s end. “We’re going to wait until Queens Day, sort of their Fourth of July, for the big celebration,” she said in a phone interview last week. “But I promise you we will be open before then. You hold me to it.”
Price said that the desire was to create a lasting space, one that helps anchor the Financial District’s continued transformation into a 24/7 live-work neighborhood. As a result, the conservancy preferred quality to expediency. “It’s a very, very interesting design, but nothing’s off the shelf,” Price said. Beyond the glass, there were challenges with getting the LEDs embedded in the roof to work. Each night, they will change colors at the stroke of midnight (turns out the pavilion is located in Peter Minuit plaza, named for the director general who established New Amsterdam and whose last name translates as “midnight”).
Perfecting and installing the bronze tiles that make up the plaza has also taken more time than expected, something South Ferry commuters must not appreciate, as the area surrounding the subways and the ferry station has been blocked off since 2007. But when everything is said and done, there will be a new plaza to match the new transit stations that have sprung up in recent years, as well.
As for the pavilion’s occupant, will it be Shake Shack, as some were hoping? “I wish,” Price said. “Shake Shack wanted 800 square feet and we could only do 400.” So who then? Somebody fancy? Or boring? “I won’t say until the contract is signed.”