Doubles team serves up new idea for old tennis pier


A new proposal for Pier 13 would bring whimsy, art and education to the East River waterfront.

Al Landzberg, a sculptor, and Anthony Walmsley, a landscape architect, joined forces to design what they see as Downtown’s new icon.

“Our goal is a very simple one: To provide the public with direct access to the waters of Manhattan,” said Landzberg, whose group is called Rivers Alive. “Manhattan is totally surrounded by water, but you can’t get near it.”

On the proposed Pier 13, people wouldn’t just be able to get near the water — they’d be able to get in it. A wet boardwalk near Wall St. would flood at high tide, allowing visitors to wade down the pier in knee-deep water. Those who prefer to keep their shoes on could stay on the dry boardwalk, which would be separated from the wet one by a long aquarium filled with fish native to New York Harbor. If visitors had questions about the fish or the pier’s history, they could head to glass-enclosed computer kiosks for answers.

The pier’s artistic features are just as imaginative. Sweeping cables reminiscent of the Brooklyn Bridge would hang above the pier, tethered to 80-foot-tall towers. A twisting sculpture at the end of the pier would soar 100 feet tall to symbolize the Manhattan skyline.

Landzberg and Walmsley presented their vision to Community Board 1 last month and received the board’s approval. The tougher road to approval lies ahead: The pair will need support from a host of agencies. They estimate they’ll need about $25 million to build their plan, based on bids they collected from contractors.

Landzberg has been working on waterfront ideas for several years and decided to focus on the East River because the city is planning an overhaul there with $150 million in Lower Manhattan Development Corp. money, though the city has no plans for Pier 13 or Pier 14, which were last used for indoor tennis courts and were left out of the plans because of a budget shortfall. Once a major freight shipping center, Pier 13 was demolished last fall. The Rivers Alive plan would rebuild it from scratch.

“Our hope is to create an icon of the city,” Landzberg said, “something that speaks to the city, that echoes the city and tells people to come to the waterfront.”

—Julie Shapiro