HOBOKEN, N.J. – For the first time in nearly 45 years, ferry service is operating at Hoboken Ferry Terminal. This marks the completion of a massive $120 million, 9-year redevelopment and rehabilitation project of the Ferry Terminal, owned by NJ TRANSIT. For more than 15 years, the Hoboken Terminal and Yard complex has been undergoing a major redevelopment and rehabilitation; the restoration of ferry services marks an important milestone in this program. STV is the project manager for the entire rehabilitation program and also provided mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and industrial engineering design services.
The Ferry Terminal is one of the last grand operating ferry terminals in the country. It is an integral part of the Hoboken Terminal, which is the largest multimodal terminal in the New York Metro area and serves nearly 60,000 commuters each weekday.
Restoration and Renovations
The Hoboken Terminal was once the crown jewel of the New Jersey skyline. Ferry service at the terminal ended in November 1967. As a result, portions of the building fell into serious disrepair, and much of the unique Beaux Arts-inspired ornate copper cladding on the exterior had fallen off. In 1973, in an effort to save the building, the complex was added to the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.
For the restoration of this terminal, each step of the project required compliance with Secretary of the Interior Standards on how historic buildings can be modified and all work was coordinated with the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office for approvals.
Three Phased Rehabilitation Program
The STV-led design team provided architectural and engineering services for the rehabilitation of the Ferry Terminal in three phases. The primary goal was to restore ferry service to the historic building. Phase One, completed in 2005, involved underpinning and replacing the north wall of the Ferry Terminal.
In Phase Two, completed in 2008, the team provided design services that restored the highly ornate copper clad east and south exterior facades of the Ferry Terminal. The design team’s strategy was to restore the exterior of the building as faithfully as possible to its original design intent, saving as much original fabric as was feasible. Architects Beyer Blinder Belle led the design of the rehabilitation of the copper facade, with Gilsanz Murray Steficek, LLP, providing structural engineering for the support the copper skin and repairs to the building structure. Phase Two also included raising a portion of the Team Concourse floor by three feet to avoid the periodic flooding of the Hudson River. The Team Concourse is the lower level of the Ferry Terminal which was dedicated to the loading of teams of horses and wagons onto bi-level ferries.
On the east facade, restoration included re-cladding and the replication of copper casement windows. Belvederes and ornate cast iron guardrails long missing from the roofline of the building were replicated. Fiber optic lighting that replicated the original incandescent "marquee" lighting scheme was added to accentuate the formal articulation of facade elements, especially at the arches of the ferry slips. The Erie Lackawanna sign at the top of the building was relit with LED strips that replicate the look of the original neon tubes.
Historic restoration contractors Schtiller & Plevy restored and replaced the copper siding that was falling off the facade. New and refurbished copper was installed using ¼-inch by 2-inch stainless steel armatures. The armatures were designed to withstand current wind loads and reduce corrosion.
The original, deteriorated wooden pilings, which held the terminal completely above the Hudson River, were replaced during this phase, with 110-130-foot, 100 ton steel pipe pilings. A challenge facing foundation engineers Mueser Rutledge was to drive in new pilings from within the existing structure with only about 10 feet of headroom.
Phase Two also entailed the replacement of the historic clock tower, which had been removed from the building in the 1950s because of structural deterioration. The clock tower was replaced using the same exterior copper cladding as the original tower. The tower was prefabricated by Campbellsville Industries’ shop in Kentucky, shipped to the site and then assembled in the plaza and lifted into place by crane. Like the Ferry Terminal building, the clock tower is lit by hundreds of fiber optic bulbs. Since no original plans for the tower were available, details from the main terminal were replicated and used for the tower’s design.
The goal of Phase Three of the project was to restore ferry service. The team had the unique challenge of preserving the historic character of this very significant historic building while necessarily incorporating the highly specialized infrastructure and operational needs of contemporary ferry service. This entailed the design of infrastructure including gangways, barges, a steel and glass wind screen system, and ferry operations support spaces that have a raw, industrial character in keeping with the tone and feeling of the historic building interior. Beyer Blinder Belle provided the overall design vision and aesthetic. The gangways and barges were designed and engineered by the McLaren Engineering Group. FTL Design Engineering Studio designed the canopies covering the barges.
Leni Schwendinger Light Projects designed the new illumination of the historic ferry terminal – interior and exterior. The concourse area is illuminated with industrial floodlights suspended from a low concrete beamed ceiling to create a datum of lightforms. In the bays, soft, yet dramatic light fills the ceiling and accentuates the beam-structure of the building cavity. For the ferry slips, the designers used the tensile canopies as a reflective surface to create indirect lighting and a series of light-patterns.
Function and Aesthetic Quality
The Hoboken Ferry Terminal is an important part of Hoboken’s past. The New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) was consulted throughout the project to ensure that the final design would comply with historic guidelines.
To comply with a directive from SHPO, timber was used for the gangways connecting the terminal and the barges. These arched truss timber gangways were designed to be similar to the original gangways used at the ferry terminal. The barges, pile anchorage system, and canopies were designed using modern materials for longevity, and to accommodate the many types of ferries operating in the harbor.
Background of Hoboken Terminal
The two-story, 29,000-square foot ferry terminal opened in 1907 and was designed by architect Kenneth M. Murchison in the Beaux-Arts style. Constructed by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, the exterior of the terminal has an ornate copper-clad facade. The large main waiting room features stained glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The terminal combines rail, ferry, and bus, and pedestrian facilities. During the twenties and thirties, new modes of transportation and the opening of the Holland and Lincoln tunnels led to a massive decline in ferry passengers. Eventually, ferry service was halted in 1967, and the terminal fell into serious disrepair. Restoring ferry service to the terminal is a major milestone in the rehabilitation of the entire Hoboken Terminal.
A major transportation hub for New Jersey commuters, restoration of the historic structure has once again made it a prominent landmark along the New Jersey waterfront. This unique transportation hub integrates train, light rail and bus services in New Jersey with the ferry service and PATH system to New York City.
The Hoboken Terminal also completes another link in the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, part of the New Jersey State Master Plan that mandates public waterfront access from the Bayonne Bridge to the George Washington Bridge.