Park Design

Photo by Alex Maclean

The Design

The Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) site extends 1.3 miles along the East River on a defunct cargo shipping and storage complex. The ambitious park design sought to transform this environmentally hostile site into a thriving civic landscape while preserving the dramatic experience of the industrial waterfront. This site also presented excellent opportunities including its adjacency to two thriving residential communities and its unparalleled viewsheds to the fabled Lower Manhattan skyline.

Brooklyn Bridge Park’s lush lawns, young trees and beautiful flowers have created a robust landscape and brought nature to this former industrial site. Public access to the long, narrow site was enabled by “urban junctions,” neighborhood parks at key entry points that transition between the park and adjacent residential communities. These entry parks host program such as dog runs, civic lawns and playgrounds, which foster community stewardship and the safety that comes with constant occupation.

BBP introduces variety to a previously monofunctional industrial waterfront. Unlike other waterfront parks, where visitors remain perched above the water, BBP encourages close interaction with the water. The park’s diverse edge types reveal the dynamic nature of New York Harbor. Salt marshes, boat ramps, beaches and waterfront promenades provide visitors with a unique opportunity to interact with the water.

Sustainability at BBP is driven by the concept of “structural economy”—the careful coordination of program and existing structural conditions. A stormwater recycling system will satisfies 70 percent of the park’s irrigation needs, and the park makes extensive use of salvaged wood, reclaimed granite from the Willis Avenue and Roosevelt Island Bridges, and fill salvaged from the MTA’s East Side Access project. The structural “skeleton” of some pier sheds were left intact to define play areas, provide shelter and support lighting and sport nets.

Park Awards

NYCxDESIGN Award for Outdoor Projects, MVVA, Inc. for Brooklyn Bridge Park
AIANY Architecture Honor Award, Marvel Architects for St. Ann’s Warehouse
ULI New York Global Awards for Excellence, Excellence in Institutional Development, Marvel Architects for St. Ann’s Warehouse
MASterworks Award for Best Adaptive Reuse, Marvel Architects for St. Ann’s Warehouse

American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, Merit Award for Pier 2, Maryann Thompson Architects
City Parks Alliance, Frontline Park for January 2015
The Architect’s Newspaper, Best of Design Awards, Marvel Architects for St. Ann’s Warehouse
Pixel Awards, Best Responsive Website for by Kettle

Municipal Art Society’s MASterworks Award for Best Urban Landscape, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., Brooklyn Bridge Park
American Planning Association’s National Planning Excellence Award for Urban Design
American Society of Landscape Architects New York Chapter Design Award, Merit Award for Pier 5, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.
Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation’s Built by Women NYC Competition
Awwwards, Honorable Mention for Best Website for by Kettle

Building Brooklyn Award, Landscape and Open Space Award for Pier 5
International Downtown Association’s Merit Award for Public Space
American Society of Landscape Architects, New York Chapter, President’s Dinner Honoree,Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park
International Furnishings and Design Association’s Big Apple Award, Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park
Waterfront Center’s Honor Award for Park/Recreation Project
New York Magazine’s Best Park – Pier 5

New York Observer’s Designer Dozen: New York’s Best New Architecture
Public Design Commission Award for Excellence in Design, Squibb Park Bridge
Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize – New York City, Brooklyn Bridge Park demonstration project
Travel + Leisure’s Design Awards, Best Public Space – Jane’s Carousel Pavilion

American Institute of Architects New York State Community Development Award
American Planning Association New York Metro Chapter William H. White Award
Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence Silver Medal
Travel + Leisure’s World’s Coolest New Tourist Attractions
New York Magazine’s Best of New York, Best Riverfront Run
American Institute of Architects New York Chapter Urban Design Honor Award – Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

Municipal Art Society’s Brendan Gill Prize, Michel Van Valkenburgh, Brooklyn Bridge Park
Engineering News-Record’s Best of the Best Award for Landscaping/Urban Planning
The Wall Street Journal’s The Best of Architecture, Julie V. Iovine
New Yorker Magazine’s First Among Paul Goldberger’s Top Ten Architecture Events
New York Observer’s #3 of New York’s Most Eye-Popping Buildings of the Year
Village Voice Best of Awards, Best New Waterfront Park with Echoes of the Past
New York Construction Magazine’s (McGraw-Hill Construction) Landscaping/Urban Planning Project of the Year – Skanska USA Building, Inc.
National Park Service’s Designing the Parks Honor Award for Master Plan –Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.
Municipal Art Society’s Annual Honor Award
New York Magazine’s Best of 19 Top Playgrounds – Pier 6

Waterfront Center’s Honor Award for Comprehensive Waterfront Plans
American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award for Analysis & Planning
New York Magazine’s Best Playground – Main Street

Sound Attenuation

A significant challenge to designing and building Brooklyn Bridge Park was to address the high noise levels generated by the adjacent Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) that is cantilevered over Furman Street. To attenuate this noise, the park’s design includes 20- to 30-foot high hills in the uplands between Piers 2-5. These hills will reduce noise levels from 75 decibels (equivalent to standing beside a lawnmower) to 68 decibels.