The 85-acre sustainable park offers a template of local sustainable landscape design.
By Dante’ A. Clemons
Park projects in New York City never result in just local innovations, but spark a national tradition of park design and planning best practices. Central Park and Prospect Park have become icons of public art, utilizing the landscape to serve the emotional, social and physical needs of the community. 140 years later, Brooklyn Bridge Park continues this tradition of innovation.
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC), a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation, is responsible for the planning and construction of Brooklyn Bridge Park. The design team, led by Brooklyn-based landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., envisioned the park offering 85 acres of land against a backdrop of 800 acres of open water and scenic views of the Manhattan harbor. The park will stretch 1.3 miles along the East River, from north of the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue. The design incorporates Piers 1-6, each one about the size of Bryant Park, tidal pools, a salt marsh, marina, beach, playgrounds and a boat ramp. Pier 1, the largest of the piers, the Fulton Ferry Landing and Main Street are currently open. Additional sections of the park will be opening throughout the year and eventually completed in 2013.
The design team approached the project with extreme sensitivity, respecting the site’s heritage and using that history to inform the design of the park. What makes Brooklyn Bridge Park especially unique is that it may actually be the first urban park made primarily of recycled materials. Here’s a highlight of the design and construction considerations used:
- Wood was salvaged from the Civil War era Cold Storage Warehouses on the site. This wood is reused in the benches and other elements of the park.
- Original steel structures from the pier were restored and utilized to provide a structural framework for lighting sources for park visitors
- Storm water on the site was harnessed to provide 70% of the irrigation needs of the park
- 6,000 feet of stone was extracted from two local bridges also under renovation, the Willis Avenue Bridge Reconstruction Project and the Roosevelt Island Bridge. The stone will be used in staircases and other seating components of the park.
- 140,000 tons of crushed rock is being removed from the East Side Access Tunnel to form and shape the park’s hills.
Brooklyn Bridge Park’s innovative use of recycled materials salvaged from local orphaned buildings prompts American designers to rethink how parks are designed, constructed and sourced in modern times. Utilizing internal city partnerships, forward thinking designers and a site brimming with untapped resources, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation has created a sustainable park for all to enjoy.
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