Rockefeller University Plan
(January 16 edition)
Regarding Rockefeller University’s plan to build a 4-block long platform over the FDR drive directly adjacent to the East River Esplanade between 64th and 68th Streets: there is more at stake than the loss of 244 square feet of public open space referred to in the article. The proposed design drastically changes the Esplanade pedestrian’s experience by cutting off a rich, open urban view of historic buildings and sky and replacing it with looming construction, a dark tunnel, concrete pylons, and walls. This negative effect is amplified because the Esplanade is already walled off by existing structures at the south (64th) and north (68th to 71st) edges of the project area. Ironically, the same plan that diminishes the public’s experience of open space will give the University an enormous area of new, private open space overlooking the river. This could be turned into a win for both Rockefeller and the community by changing the design to incorporate a public access strip along the easternmost edge of the platform.
J. Appel, East 62nd Street
Rockefeller University Expansion & the Esplanade: Dollars but no sense?
Rockefeller University’s mitigation of some $9M for the enhancement and repair of the East River Esplanade affected by their proposed expansion is appreciated, but both the community and the University’s pocketbook would be better served by rethinking the idea.
Creating an area for the public within outdoor space of the proposed expansion would be a sensible and sensitive step forward.
Given the increased population density of Upper East Side (and the increased likelihood of Sandy-like events), putting money into the Esplanade as it is instead of creating an elevated public area along this stretch, is money down the drain.
Susan P. Blackwell
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