Located in Manhattan on the shore of the East River at the base of the Queensboro Bridge, this pavilion and sculptural installation were designed to stand out amidst the high-density urban environment that surrounds them. The site was used for decades by the Sanitation Department as a waste transfer station until 1985 when the station was decommissioned and an eighteen-story hotel was proposed. A consortium of organizations including the Greenacre Foundation, the Parks Council, and the Municipal Arts Society protested the commercial development. Eventually the hotel project was abandoned and a public pavilion was commissioned. Funded by nearby Rockefeller University and the Hospital for Special Surgery, it was designed by landscape architect Nicholas Quennell, who had been involved in the protest, and sculptor Alice Aycock.
The exterior of the transfer station was removed, exposing its steel superstructure. A fence resembling a ship’s railings was installed along the section of the pavilion overlooking the river. Light blue benches and decorative paving were inserted in the 12,000-square-foot open-air pavilion. In 1995 Aycock’s 80-foot-long aluminum helix was dedicated, funded by public donations and maintained by the Municipal Art Society. Spiraling through the pavilion’s superstructure and reminiscent of a rollercoaster, East River Roundabout includes a curving roof that resembles a folded fan. Accessible from 60th Street via a pedestrian ramp to the elevated Bobby Wagner Walk, the park is adjacent to the 24 Sycamores Playground and the Andrew Haswell Green Park.