New York—A long-needed renovation has finally arrived for a popular stair path that occupies a full block of Manhattan’s 215th Street. WXY Architecture + Urban Design came to the rescue with the design for the renovated West 215th Step-Street, in collaboration with the New York City civil engineering group at AECOM.
The site has been a fixture of Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood for many years as the path provides a unique pedestrian corridor that connects the residential Park Terrace East at the high end of the stair with Broadway and essential public transportation at the low end of the stair, covering a 50-foot change in elevation.
After more than 100 years of feet walking on the path, it’s no surprise it was in need of major TLC. Originally constructed in fall 1915, the stairs began to crack and crumble as it aged, creating uneven surfaces and safety hazards for hundreds of daily walkers.
The New York City Department of Design & Construction (DDC) selected WXY for the project because of the company’s unique, “community-first approach to urbanism,” which focuses on connecting places with improved public spaces. Deconstruction of the stairs began in winter 2014 after several false starts.
To begin the renovation, WXY started by addressing safety issues. The team rehabilitated the planted areas that divided the stairways, installed cobblestone paving and planted new trees. The renovated stairs now also include a bike channel for cyclists to easily roll their bikes up and down as they walk up the steep block. In total the renovation included a length of approximately 200 linear feet by approximately 34 feet wide.
The Inwood community deserves a safe stair path,” says Claire Weisz, founding principal at WXY. “But they also deserve a beautiful public space they can feel proud of, where neighbors can greet one another as they pass on their daily commute.”
The official stair path opens to the public with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
Rendering courtesy of WXY