Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd.

The East River Ferry Terminal at E 34th ST in Manhattan is the primary public ferry boat terminal in a major urban sustainable transportation initiative along the East River.

Bike-share docks in front of the Terminal.

Estuary Network - East River has swift moving currents that flow into and out of the Estuary with daily cycles of low and high tides. The Terminal signals these with an interactive LED lighting system.

The Terminal harnesses Internet, wireless public messaging, and environmental information to create a public architecture that integrates the physical experiences of the river front with the expanded virtual experiences of the working commute.

Motion sensors embedded above the boardwalk on light standards capture real-time pedestrian flow between water and land.

At night, light wells use solid state lighting to illuminate the translucent canopy and register the flows of people on the pier and the tidal flows that move under the surface of the East River.

Model Shot. The E 34th Street Ferry Terminal is the first public project in the U.S. constructed using principles of resilient or “soft” infrastructure.

Passenger Waiting Area. Architectural surfaces are designed to distribute an innovative network of services scaled to the passenger and integrated in undulating perforated wall screens, benches and public furniture elements.

Perf Wall Mockup. This is the first public project in New York City to be constructed with digitally fabricated building components that were shop-built for rapid on-site assembly. The panels are designed to produce moiré effects.

Light Well Model - by day, large lighting wells (or ‘oculi’) in the translucent tensile membrane roof provide natural daylight. The oculi integrate a wireless, interactive environmental sensor system.

Oculi demonstrate how a ‘soft’ infrastructure may bring together physical elements of architecture, natural data and digital information.

The project uses a soft lenticular textile canopy made of translucent and meshed ETFE that is more opaque by day and translucent at night.

The subtle movement and change in coloration of the LED light differentiate the repeated public experience of the commute and link natural and constructed urban ecologies.

David Small, of Small Design Firm, finalizes the installation of the responsive lighting system.

Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd.
10 Farnham St

East 34th St Ferry Terminal

The East 34th St Ferry Terminal is a multi-modal public transit hub linking NYC Citi Bike, NYC MTA, Taxi and Ferry Boat connections between Manhattan and the East River. The Ferry Terminal strengthens the City’s sustainable waterfront transportation system and encourages the public use of Pier 34, the urban riverfront and the adjacent land along the East River Esplanade. This public project was commissioned by the NYC EDC, the NYC DOT, and the Parks Department and was reviewed and approved with five NYC Community Boards along the East River.

The Ferry Terminal design is guided by principles of resilient or “soft “infrastructure where architecture, natural eco-systems, and digital networks are integrated by design. The use of steel is minimized through an innovative lightweight triangulated column structure and a tensile textile lenticular roof canopy, the first in the United States. The project is constructed with digitally fabricated building components that were shop-built and transported on-site for rapid construction. The reflective and translucent materials of the Ferry Terminal architecture reflect the changing, natural effects of light and water. The project harnesses New York City’s underutilized Maritime Global Positioning System for public use to provide intelligent real-time transportation scheduling (ITS) and public WI FI. An interactive environmental sensor system, created specifically for this project, monitors the tide levels, water speed and current direction of the East River Estuary. These flows of water are made public through subtle changes in the color and direction of LED lighting in the Terminal’s roof canopy, creating a new civic urban infrastructure.


T: 617 442 0800
F: 617 442 0808


Date: 2003 - 2012
Status: Completed
Location: New York City, NY

Design Team:

Frano Violich, FAIA; Managing Principal
Sheila Kennedy, FAIA; Principal Consulting on Design
Veit Kugel Dipl Ing, Senior Associate; Project Designer
Tonya Ohnstad, Ted Steinemann, Sloan Kulper IDSA, Jason O'MARA, Heather Micka-Smith

Architect: Kennedy & Violich Architects, Ltd
Structural Engineer Roof: Schlaich Bergermann & Partner LP
Marine Structural & Civil Engineer: McLaren Engineering Group
MEP Engineer: Lakhani & Jordan Engineers
Security: Cosentini Associates
Landscape Architect: Ken Smith Landscape Architects
Interaction Design: Small Design Firm, Inc.
Photographer: John Horner