HDR Provides Behind-the-Scenes Support for Famed New York City Waterfalls

(June 2008) - If you've been to New York City lately, it would be hard to miss the four waterfalls that began flowing in the East River at the end of June. As one of the largest public art projects in recent history, the New York City Waterfalls are the creation of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. The huge structures range between 90 and 120 feet high, cascading water under the Brooklyn Bridge, off the coast of Governor's Island, from Pier 35 in Manhattan and between Piers 4 and 5 in Brooklyn.

The waterfalls have been featured in an online The New York Times article, The New Yorker, and many other media outlets. The accolades have been many. One review called them "sublime."  But only a select few who stare transfixed at the thrill of seeing waterfalls in the heart of the Big Apple know that without preliminary work by HDR, the waterfalls might never have been turned on. 

Technically, the waterfalls are big fountains that churn up to 35,000 gallons of river water per minute for 15 hours each day. The Public Art Fund, working closely with the Mayor's Office of the City of New York, hired HDR to clear the way for the waterfalls by completing reviews required by environmental regulatory requirements. The effort required coordination with and approval by multiple agencies, from the local to the federal level.

HDR began work on the waterfall project in early 2007, long before the project was publicly announced. HDR completed an Environmental Assessment Statement required by the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act and the New York City Environmental Quality Review process, along with detailed assessments of potential impacts as varied as noise, fish and aquatic species habitats, construction, energy and traffic, and many others.