November 2017
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The Con Edison Midtown-East Site

Four enormous city blocks, just south of the United Nations along the East River, offer a rare opportunity for a world-class development in Midtown Manhattan. Con Edison’s plan to close the Waterside plant now occupying the site could lead to the conversion of an isolated industrial area into a lively, mixed-use destination tied into the surrounding neighborhoods and connected to the East River. Last year, the Municipal Art Society convened a committee of board members, architects and engineers to explore the potential of the Con Ed site. The committee proposed the following broad planning principles, which the Society believes should guide the development of this important gateway into Manhattan:

  • Connect to the city, by improving transit, adding ferry service, and creating safe pedestrian links to First Avenue and along the East River
  • Reach to the river, by building a public waterfront park over FDR Drive and linking existing riverfront esplanades to the north and south.
  • Make a memorable place, with a distinct civic identity and with public spaces and activities that attract visitors as well as nearby residents and workers.

The principles have been endorsed by community organizations, including Community Board 6 and the EMCSD (East Midtown Coalition for Sensible Development), and East Side elected officials. Thanks to a generous grant from State Senator Roy Goodman, MAS was able to produce a new publication, Wide Open, which expands upon these planning principles and will soon be available on this website.

In June 2001, the site’s developer , FSM East River Associates LLP, announced the results of an international design competition to select architects for the site. Of the five participating teams, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill were selected as the site’s architects.