An Almost-Three-Hour Tour

The “Around Manhattan Official NYC Architectural Boat Tour” guides passengers aboard Classic Harbor Line’s 1920s-style yacht “Manhattan” around New York City’s unofficial sixth borough: its spectacular waterfront. The almost 3-hour cruise circumnavigates Manhattan as AIANY tour guides chronicle the city’s evolution from an industrial, working waterfront into one increasingly focusing on recreational and residential uses.

The tour leaves from Chelsea Piers, a formerly dilapidated transit terminal which was transformed by Butler Rogers Baskett Architects’ design into a bustling mixed-use recreation and entertainment complex on the Hudson River. First into view are Jean Nouvel and Beyer Blinder Belle’s sparkling 100 11th Avenue, with more than 1,650 colorless panes of glass set at unique angles to create a polychromatic effect, and Gehry Partners and Adamson Associates’ headquarters for IAC, with its curving, sail-like façade. Further south, the Financial District’s majestic Art Deco spires harmonize with the gleaming new towers of the new World Trade Center complex by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and Maki and Associates, along with Pei Cobb Freed and Partners’ 200 West Street, and Gehry Partners ‘ New York by Gehry. Historic monuments are not overlooked, as passengers are graced with spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the former Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House.

At every turn, efforts to green the waterfront are evident. Passengers get an up-close view of the ever-expanding Michael Van Valkenbergh Associates-designed Brooklyn Bridge Park, which includes the Jean Nouvel-designed Jane’s Carousel enclosure and three new multi-purpose sports fields. Construction is clearly underway on Governors Island’s West 8-led team’s park expansion. Manhattan’s northern reaches are revealed as the vessel passes under the Harlem River’s 13 bridges, many of the operable vertical lift or swing type. New views of historic Highbridge Park and Inwood Hill Park are also discovered. At Swindler’s Cove in East Harlem, Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Armand LeGardeur’s neo-Victorian Peter J. Sharpe Boathouse floats with the tide, anchored to its dock by four piers.

In addition to these highlights, the 2013 tour season will include a Featured Guide Series entitled “Pressure Along the Edge: The Future of NYC’s Waterfront.” Considering the city in a post-Superstorm Sandy era, these tours will enlist NYC waterfront specialists to offer first-hand insights into the intertwined issues of climate and real estate development.

Catherine Seavitt, AIA, LEED AP, architect, landscape architect, and City College of New York professor, will join the tour to share insights from the visionary 2010 study “On the Water: Palisade Bay.” Kate Ascher, author of The Works: Anatomy of a City, will examine waterfront infrastructure from all eras.

The many exciting waterfront projects under development and visible during the tour are ensuring that 2013 will be filled with new additions to New York City’s iconic skyline. The new Whitney Museum by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Cooper, Robertson and Partners is rising in the Meatpacking District. The Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage by Dattner Architects with WXY Architecture + Urban Design is being clad on Spring Street. Steven Holl Architects’ Campbell Sports Center at Columbia University’s sports complex in Inwood is nearing completion. Bjarke Ingels Group’s W57 pyramid development on West 57th Street is rising. Our sixth borough – transformed once by heavy international industry – is again being transformed, this time by international architects. Take the tour and see this new form of global exchange.

To purchase tickets for future boat tours, visit the AIANY calendar or the Classic Harbor Line ticketing website at

Julie Ann Engh, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, works in the Architecture Department at Highland Associates, and currently serves as the 2013 AIANYS Associate Director, and is active in the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) and the AIANY Architecture Tour Committee.

Event: Around Manhattan Official NYC Architectural Boat Tour
Location: The yacht Manhattan, embarks from Chelsea Piers on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays through the Spring, Summer, and Fall
Tour Guides: Arthur Platt, AIA; Kyle Johnson, AIA; John Kriskiewicz, Assoc. AIA; Julie Engh, Assoc. AIA; Doug Fox, Assoc. AIA; Scott Cook, Assoc. AIA; Gary Van Vliet, AIA; Heidi Han, Assoc. AIA
Organizers: AIANY Architecture Tour Committee and Classic Harbor Line