Brooklyn Bridge Park

Project:
Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP)
Brooklyn, NY
85 acres along Brooklyn’s East River waterfront
Urban park

Year and month completed: Construction began in 2009, with first section opened in March 2010. By the end of 2015, BBP will be 72% complete.

Project partners:
Landscape Architect & Park Structures Designer: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. Landscape Architects, P.C.

Lighting Designer: Domingo Gonzalez Associates, Inc.

Marine Engineer & Site Infrastructure Designer: AECOM, DMJM Harris
Structural Engineer: Ysrael A. Seinuk, P.C.
Stormwater Reuse Consultant: Nitsch Engineering & Land Surveying of NY
Soil Scientist: Pine & Swallow Environmental

Signage Designer: Open

Water Feature Designer: R.J. Van Seters Company Limited

Project Summary:
Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre urban park along the Brooklyn waterfront. The area was formerly an inaccessible cargo shipping site owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ). When PANYNJ announced plans to sell the piers in 1983, the surrounding community began to consider the site’s value as a local resource. A series of community planning workshops were held and a conceptual framework was developed for a waterfront park. In 2002, PANYNJ, Governor George Pataki, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed to transform the piers into public parkland, dedicating State and City funding to the park’s construction. Today, BBP is 56% complete, and due to its enormous popularity, already receives an average of 119,127 visitors on an average summer weekend.

The design and layout of the Park make it a successful addition to the neighborhood, creating a thriving space for active and passive recreation, congregation, and rest. Due to its adjacency to residential neighborhoods, access to varied transit modes, and its unparalleled views of the Manhattan skyline, the Park’s site presented exciting opportunities. The Park extends along the East River from Jay Street, north of the Manhattan Bridge, to Atlantic Ave/Pier 6 in the south, and will eventually include 5 retrofitted piers connected throughout by the Park’s Greenway - increasing pedestrian and cyclist connectivity between the previously disparate sections.

Its location also posed significant design challenges, most notably the noise and the disconnection caused by the triple cantilever of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) along almost a mile of the park’s eastern border. In order to offset the noise disturbance, the Park’s landscape architectural team, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., proposed sound-attenuating hills. These hills absorb and deflect traffic noise, thus creating a peaceful environment for the park user.

The Park introduces a variety of uses to a previously nonfunctional and inaccessible industrial waterfront. Amenities span from high-intensity sports courts and dynamic children’s jungle gyms, to flexible-use lawns and relaxing gardens by the water. Combined with a robust schedule of cultural events, environmental education, and fitness classes, the Park’s wide range of amenities and programming allows people to customize their visit to meet their own preferences and needs.

Brooklyn Bridge Park has been successful not only in creating an active play, relaxation and recreation space for residents, but also in developing a sense of identity for a previously underutilized space. In this sense, Brooklyn Bridge Park is uniquely innovative — bolstering community identity by making healthy activity and recreation accessible, enticing, and culturally relevant to a broader population.

Active Design Highlights

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park is accessible by subway, bus, ferry, bike, and walkways, making it easily accessible for local residents and distant visitors alike.
  • The bike and pedestrian paths throughout the park make up a key component of the “Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway,” a fourteen-mile, landscaped route for pedestrians, runners, and cyclists that connects neighborhood parks and open spaces along the western edge of Brooklyn.
  • Play equipment and recreational areas were specifically made to accommodate those with physical disabilities. For example, benches have handrails, one of the basketball courts features fully adjustable hoops, play equipment is ramped, and recreational areas have at-grade entrances.
  • Two of the piers are wholly dedicated to active recreation, with athletic spaces that range from basketball courts to a kayaking dock to a full-size roller rink. These spaces are well maintained, easy to use, and attractive—all of which has helped the park become a regional destination.
  • The park’s nine children’s playgrounds are designed to host dynamic play within natural terrains. The variation in habitat provides stimulating physical challenges to children of all ages.
  • Supportive infrastructure, like bike racks, water fountains/bottle refilling stations, benches, tables, and lighting, contribute to users’ overall sense of safety and comfort.
  • Open green spaces provide areas for groups or individuals to gather and find respite from the business of the City.

For more information, please visit brooklynbridgepark.org.

 
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    Aerial rendering of BBP, showing its span along Brooklyn's waterfront edge. Image source: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., Landscape Architects.
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    The Park’s Boathouse provides free kayaks for tours, classes, and open recreational use during the warmer months. Photo Credit: Julienne Schaer.
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    Outdoor fitness equipment at Pier 2. Photo: Julienne Schaer.
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    Pier 2 provides 5 basketball courts, 2 of which are covered, and 1 of which has a fully adjustable hoop to use by people of varying ages and abilities. Photo Credit: Julienne Schaer.
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    BPP's large open spaces have flexible uses, including fitness classes that range from pilates to hip hop aerobics. Photo Credit: Etienne Frossard.