Andrew Keung

Friends of the River


Friends of the River

East River Family Friendly Pier and Kindergarten. 3 weeks. GSAPP Core I Studio 2016

‘Friends of the River’ is a kindergarten and public family park in East River Park at 6th St. This space is a response to the relatively young demographic of the neighboring NYCHA community. The education center is placed on the East River because of the significance of its environmental history.

The kindergarten has the pedagogical philosophy that environmental responsibility and climate change realities should be taught from the earliest stages of education. It is designed for a student body of 60-70 children, about 45% of the currently enrolled kindergarten aged children in the adjacent community.

The public family park interfaces with the water and has subtly alternating programs and circulation according to the tide. The programs shift not only with the water level but also with changing states of water depending on the season. In the winter the high tide pool is frozen to create a skating area and the slope can be used for sledding.


Experimenting with buoyant friendly forms, I developed this squishy foam cast model from a CNC milled mould for the Kindergarten Discovery Center.


Tooth and Crown.


Tooth Friends have a downward facing appendages that initiate ground/water based spaces and allow for a multiplication of the ground plane on their ‘backs’

  • The River Learning Room of the kindergarten implements tooth typology to insert rooms into the water that enable subaquatic learning and play experiences for the children. On the roof of this space is an open roof area where children are encouraged to play.  

  • The park equivalent is the overlook slope whose underside is a shaded sheltered space that uses the appendages for general seating as well as the winter skating rink. The top of this structure is an overlook area directed towards brooklyn that has a slope feature to provide alternative views and leisure space for the visitors.

Crown Friends have upward facing appendages that initiate upward spatial activation away from the ground/water.

  • The Discovery Center of the kindergarten lies on its back on the water with the children using the interior of the building as self learning space and the appendages providing vertical circulation to reach the kindergarten access bridge as well as letting in natural light for interior space.

  • In the park these friends lie underwater most of the time, with the feet of their appendages pointing upwards acting as stepping stones or climbable play forms.


This typological system delineates the notion of the ground plane by implementing buoyancy executed by formal appendages, either elevating or sinking them both on ground and in water.


Above is a moment model of the playground and aquatic play space that reveals how the actual scale of the park. The forms were delicately and precisely flip milled.