Hudson River Park Pier 26 "Estuarium" project awarded to Clarkson University

Clarkson University’s Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, and institutional partners NY Hall of Science and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater to lead the development and operations for new Tribeca river science and education facility in NYC

Hudson River Park's Pier 26 in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City

Hudson River Park's Pier 26 in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City

NEW YORK, NY (12/5/14)—Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) announced late last night that it has awarded its Pier 26 “Estuarium” project to Clarkson University, a next step in fulfilling its mission to create a 550-acre riverside park and estuarine sanctuary on the west side of New York City at the Hudson River. Clarkson University and its Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries will partner with New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) and the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater to develop the building plan and operate the Estuarium and create a world-class destination for estuary research, education and public discovery.

An estuary is a body of water such as a river or stream where freshwater mixes with saltwater as it transitions from land to sea, facilitated by tides. The Hudson River is an estuary that extends 153 miles from Troy to New York Harbor where it meets the Atlantic Ocean.

The Estuarium will be located in Hudson River Park on Pier 26 at the Hudson River in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City. Originally mandated by the Hudson River Park Act in 1998, the Estuarium will enhance goals to “improve the park’s Estuarine Sanctuary through public education, research and habitat enhancement.”

The River Project, New York/New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program, New York Sea Grant, and other estuary-focused science groups will also collaborate with the institutional partners to ensure that this facility prioritizes community-based and regional scientific and outreach strategies.   

 “Clarkson’s academic and research components, the real-time data through Beacon Institute’s robust River and Estuary Observatory Network, and the top-notch engagement of younger students by NYSCI and the Sloop Clearwater will enable visitors to learn and evolve as science and technology advances,” said Clarkson University President Tony Collins. “A visit to the Estuarium will by no means be a singular event. Cutting-edge technology will allow us to present a multi-dimensional, ongoing, in-depth learning experience that can begin well before visitors – especially students – step foot in the Estuarium and will continue long after they depart. Many thanks to the Hudson River Park Trust for honoring us with this enormous opportunity.”

“Beacon Institute has centered its mission on protecting rivers and estuaries since day one,” said Institute President and Chief Executive Officer Timothy F. Sugrue, Ph.D. “The foresight of HRPT and its founders to see the potential of an Estuarium to galvanize public understanding of the critical role of these fragile resources was extraordinary; to be selected to make it a reality is tremendously exhilarating and we thank HRPT for this privilege. Creating a global center for visitors, students, scientists to visualize rivers with tools like our River and Estuary Observatory Network has been our dream all along.”   

One of the mainstays of the Estuarium will be the integration of the River and Estuaries Observatory Network (REON) into its research and education programming. REON is a sophisticated network of real-time acoustic and optical sensors that reflect nearly instant changes in important physical and chemical parameters within the Hudson River itself. REON was first launched in 2008 at Beacon Institute.  Applications of this data could include the ability to visualize the movement of contaminants, protect fish species as they migrate, and provide a better scientific understanding of river and estuary ecosystems. In conjunction with NYSCI, displays of REON data will be developed for the Estuarium and used as research and educational tools for visitors of all ages and levels of technical skills throughout the year.

NYSCI, headquartered on the grounds of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, engages a half-million students, teachers, and families each year with award-winning hands-on science and technology exhibitions and programs; their educational initiatives for teacher professional development, curricula and out-of-school programming have earned an international reputation. “We are extremely pleased to join the Pier 26 Partnership to imbue the Estuarium with a whole new level of imagination and excitement for inspiring powerful connections to science and technology,” says NYSCI President and CEO Margaret Honey. “With our combined resources, I truly expect we will redefine the learning experience for all who walk through its physical and virtual doors.”

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater will provide a ‘sailing classroom’ and dockside learning opportunities for the Estuarium on the 106-foot tall ship launched in 1969. The Clearwater has become a beloved icon to hundreds of thousands of children and adults — many of them experiencing nature for the first time while aboard the sloop. The extensive experience of the Clearwater organization in providing environmental programs on the science and history of the Hudson River will extend the reach of Hudson River Park to the river itself with sails originating from the docking facility on Pier 26. “The ability to reach the heart of New York City by connecting its residents and visitors to the River gives us great hope for the future of our environment,” said Clearwater Executive Director Peter A. Gross. “Sailing the Sloop up the Hudson has a magical effect on people as they experience this extraordinary River first-hand. Our founder Pete Seeger got it right: getting people to care about the River is the first step to saving it.”

The Hudson River Estuary, a fragile and diverse ecosystem with 70+ fish species in the lower reaches of the estuary alone, is one of the most ecologically rich water resources in the United States. Hudson River Park, which includes 400 water-acres, received a designation as an Estuarine Sanctuary with the signing of the Hudson River Park Act in 1998 to protect the urban ecosystem. Working with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the Hudson River Park Trust prepared the Hudson River Park Estuarine Sanctuary Management Plan (ESMP) which established guidelines for resource protection, public access and recreation, environmental education and research. With yesterday’s announcement the Estuarium project, long-planned for in the ESMP, will begin the process of becoming a reality for New York City’s residents and its millions of visitors from around the world to better understand the scientific, ecological and cultural significance of rivers and estuaries.

 About Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries
The new Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries@Clarkson University is advancing real-time monitoring of New York’s rivers, commercialization of emerging environmental sensor technology, long-term public policy solutions to protect waterways and expanded academic offerings. Beacon Institute, headquartered in Beacon, New York, engages scientists, engineers, environmentalists, subject experts and students to apply diverse intellectual and physical resources to the water challenges of the 21st century. With innovation, the Institute develops and deploys tools to expand understanding of waterways for the benefit of human health, ecosystem restoration, economic development and quality of life. www.bire.org

About Clarkson University
Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP, owner of a company or equivalent senior executive. Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health professions directed toward the world’s pressing issues.  Its Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries is creating a new environmentalism with the integration of innovation technology, education and policy to protect waterways across the globe.   Clarkson’s entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise. www.clarkson.edu