FBW waterfront plan featured in Designing New Jersey

October 2000
Many of the features of the plan created by the Fund for a Better Waterfront (FBW) in 1990 are now being realized along Hoboken’s waterfront. The New Jersey Office of State Planning, in its recently published a book entitled Designing New Jersey, point to the FBW plan as a noteworthy example of good design and planning. This publication prominently featured the FBW plan with a photograph of the FBW model displayed on the front cover and again in a chapter entitled “Respecting Context.”

The plan strikes a balance between new development and new public open space along the waterfront and adheres to traditional scale and character, extending Hoboken’s signature 200 by 400 foot grid, carefully controlling building mass and requiring articulated building facades.The Coalition for a Better Waterfront scored a stunning referendum victory in 1990 defeating the City of Hoboken-Port Authority plan for the Hoboken’s waterfront. Subsequently, FBW hired urban planner and architect Craig Whitaker to lead a group of volunteer professionals in developing its own plan that later took the form of a book entitled “A Plan for the Hoboken Waterfront” and then, this 4 foot by 12 foot architectural model. In describing the FBW plan, Designing New Jersey, states:

The redevelopment plan for Hoboken’s waterfront provides a model to emulate both in terms of its design principles and the importance of citizen participation. The plan strikes a balance between new development and new public open space along the waterfront and adheres to traditional scale and character, extending Hoboken’s signature 200 by 400 foot grid, carefully controlling building mass and requiring articulated building facades.

The centerpiece of the FBW plan has been a continuous, public waterfront park at the water’s edge. The first pieces of this park have been completed at Sinatra Park, Pier A Park and the soon to be opened waterfront promenade at the Shipyard project. Designing New Jersey pays tribute to Pier A park with photographs and the following text:

model view from south

Model of FBW plan for Hoboken waterfront.

The redevelopment of idle industrial waterfronts such as Hoboken’s offers significant opportunities to redress some of the limitations of these older industrial areas, which were developed in ways that typically precluded public access to the waterfront and provided little public open space. The recently completed South Waterfront Park in Hoboken offers a distinguished design model for waterfront parks throughout the state.

Landscape architect Cassandra Wilday in partnership with Henry Arnold of Princeton, New Jersey designed Pier A Park which alone, has increased Hoboken’s open space inventory by 40%. Where a mammoth 33-story office tower was scheduled to be built there is now an oasis of green, with a grove of 97 London plane trees and an extensive lawn. Work has begun on the waterfront promenade that will connect Pier A Park to Sinatra Park to the north. Ms. Wilday was also part of the team that created the FBW plan for the Hoboken waterfront.

The FBW plan calls for buildings no more than eight stories in height, and many buildings on each block rather than large monolithic structures. Unfortunately, the City of Hoboken has greatly exceeded these building heights and building footprints. The public street grid and waterfront park, however, are now being built. If attempts to stop pier development at Hoboken’s north waterfront are successful, the opportunity to make this linear waterfront park truly public for the entire length of Hoboken’s waterfront will one day become a reality.