The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy (Conservancy) and Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) are pleased to announce that the Conservancy’s environmental education program will soon have a year-round home in the Main Street section of Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Environmental Education Center will be located at 99 Plymouth Street, in a former New York City Department of Environmental Protection maintenance building that BBP is converting for park use. The Conservancy is responsible for outfitting and funding the classroom’s interior construction and will operate the Center, using it as a homebase for its extensive education programming.
Con Edison Corporation and New York City Councilmember Steve Levin have provided leadership funding for the Center’s build-out, enabling the classroom to open in spring of 2015. Con Edison has committed $250,000 to the project over five years. Councilmember Levin has awarded $163,000 for the Center as part of the City’s 2015 Capital Budget.
Significant support from Bloomberg LP, the TD Charitable Fund, the Morris and Alma Shapiro Fund, the Hudson River Improvement Fund, and a broad base of individuals has also contributed to the Center’s capital costs and program, which will total more than $700,000 in its first year of operation.
Launched in 2008 through funding secured by Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, the Conservancy’s education program has welcomed 40,000 young people from NYC schools and day camps for on-site, hands-on investigative classes in the environmental sciences. Students from all five boroughs, as well as every zip code in Brooklyn, have attended the Conservancy’s education program, with 60% of students from Title 1 schools, and 51% from ESL classes. Curricula adheres to Common Core Standards and STEM Initiatives, and serves Pre-k through high school levels. In 2015 the Conservancy will welcome over 10,000 students to explore the ecology and history of the Brooklyn waterfront.
To date, the popular program, which has an extensive waiting list, has been conducted with no dedicated indoor space. Designed pro bono by Mesh Architectures, the Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center will provide an area to enrich student fieldwork, as well as a year-round space where classes can be held rain or shine. The Center will extend the Conservancy’s reach, providing an opportunity for afterschool programs and public drop-in hours.
Con Edison has been a long-time corporate supporter of the Conservancy, as an early sponsor of the popular Movies With A View film series in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and later as the provider of lead support for the Conservancy’s first environmental education publication, The Cove Guide, in 2003. Over the past 15 years, Con Edison has contributed more than $200,000 to the Conservancy’s free programs in Brooklyn Bridge Park. “The opening of this Environmental Education Center allows us to expand our education efforts to students, teachers and the community alike, in ways that were previously unimaginable,” said Nancy Webster, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. “We are incredibly grateful to Con Ed, Councilmember Steve Levin, and all of our generous funders, as well as Mesh Architectures, and BBP for making the Center possible and for helping us expand our already strong environmental education program.”
“Brooklyn Bridge Park is thrilled to be building a year-round home for the Conservancy’s education program,” said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park. “With its spectacular location overlooking the East River, the Environmental Education Center will provide a unique setting where students can study the rich ecology of the waterfront.”
“When we teach our young people about science and the environment, we enhance our future,” says Frances A. Resheske, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, for Con Edison. “The Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center will be a great resource for children to learn about the wonders of aqua ecology and Brooklyn Bridge Park.”
“I am very proud to provide support for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center,” said Council Member Steve Levin. “There is a lot of exciting programming happening at Brooklyn Bridge Park and this new addition will provide young people exposure to environmental science. I want to thank Nancy Webster and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy for their commitment to educating our students and congratulate them on the announcement of the new Environmental Education Center.”
“The Brooklyn Bridge Conservancy’s day camps and hands-on environmental programs exploring the waterfront provide valuable education for city school students,” said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez. “I’m so pleased to see this vital youth programming will now have a permanent home in Brooklyn Bridge Park.”
Featuring 12-ft ceilings, and a glass wall overlooking the East River, the Center will contain two signature exhibits: a marine aquarium and a Discovery Station. The 500-gallon display aquarium designed by City Aquarium will showcase fish collected from the East River during the Conservancy’s popular seining programs. The aquarium will also contain a child-friendly touch tank where visitors can gently interact with marine animals from the Hudson River Estuary.
Featuring a 9’ scale model of Brooklyn Bridge Park, an interactive discovery station will provide an in-depth look at the park’s ecology, history and sustainable design. Child-friendly modules will showcase the birds, fish, insects, plant life and geology of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Interactive exhibits and games will introduce visitors to the park’s salt marshes and oyster habitat, as well as provide hands-on opportunities to explore the physics of suspension bridges and water pressure. The Station is funded by a gift from Anthony and Nancy Bowe and their family and will be named after Nancy Bowe, the Chairman of the Conservancy’s Board of Directors. Designed by Human Nature Projects, the Nancy Bowe Discovery Station will be an exciting feature for visitors to explore at their own pace and will be used by park staff to enrich its school-based classroom programming.
“Rain or shine, the Conservancy’s extraordinary, hands-on education programs will now reach hundreds more families, students, and park visitors each year in the new education center,” said Nancy Bowe, Chairman of the Conservancy’s Board of Directors. “My family and I are honored to underwrite the Discovery Station with its scale model of the park and interactive exhibits for young and old, first-time visitors and park veterans. The education center, aquarium and discovery station will add an exciting new destination in the park.”
“TD Bank’s goal is to build successful partnerships that benefit our customers and their communities,” and Alan Nossen, Market President, TD Bank. “The Environmental Education Center will not only benefit the community, it will positively change the lives of so many young people and we are truly proud to be a part of this effort.”
“The Environmental Education Center is perched on the edge of the East River,” said Eric Liftin of MESH Architectures. “It will both immerse students in the deep, complex world of the river and serve as a base for explorations. In our design we aim to represent the richness of this ecosystem with a dense array of displays, shelves, and interactives that suggest this abundance. Kids will be swept into an exciting world, very different from their everyday urban environment.”
“Brooklyn Bridge Park works because when you go there, it just makes you feel better,” said Human Nature Projects. “This is not an accident. The transformation from abandoned landscape took careful planning to make it a place where humans and animals want to go. The park evolution is a complex story that warrants retelling often, and in a variety of formats, so the Environmental Education Center will be that critical point of access to the whole collection of narratives. Our goal is to help visitors discover the details – insects, birds, sustainable design – that make their experience great.”
“The Environmental Education Center will allow us to shine a light on some of our favorite aspects of the park; elements that are not immediately visible, and perhaps surprising,” said Kara Gilmour, Program Manager at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. “We look forward to introducing the public to seahorses from the East River, the black-crowned night heron of Bird Island, the storied past of the Granite Prospect and the many layers of Pier 1. The park is home to fascinating creatures and intelligent design. The Center will be a space where students and the public can come to enhance their experience, and increase their appreciation of all that the park has to offer.”
In addition to its school-based classes, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy provides over 500 free cultural, educational, and recreational events in the park each year.
About the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy has worked for over 25 years to bring Brooklyn Bridge Park to life. The Conservancy started out as grassroots advocates, bringing together residents, government, and local supporters to transform an abandoned waterfront into today’s park. Now as an essential supporter, the Conservancy works in partnership with Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation to ensure that the park reaches its full potential as a dynamic and vibrant public space for Brooklyn, New York City, and beyond by producing diverse and innovative programming for park visitors and cultivating volunteer and philanthropic support of this special place on the Brooklyn waterfront. Since 2000, more than 1,000,000 visitors have enjoyed the Conservancy’s free, public programs in the beginnings of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
About Brooklyn Bridge Park Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, known as Brooklyn Bridge Park, is the not-for-profit entity responsible for the planning, construction, maintenance and operation of Brooklyn Bridge Park, an 85-acre sustainable waterfront park stretching 1.3 miles along Brooklyn’s East River shoreline. The self-sustaining park was designed by the award-winning firm of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. and features expansive lawns, waterfront promenades, innovative playgrounds, a greenway, sports facilities and the popular Jane’s Carousel.
About Con Edison Con Edison supports hundreds of nonprofit organizations in New York City and Westchester County to strengthen neighborhoods, sustain communities and improve lives. These philanthropic efforts support the arts, environment, and important educational initiatives in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Many of Con Edison’s 14,000 employees share a personal commitment to the region’s vitality through their own volunteer efforts.
About Mesh Architectures MESH Architectures is an interdisciplinary architecture practice that is passionate about innovation at multiple levels. The firm works with new materials and forms of lighting, rethinks the layout of spaces to accommodate new ways of living and working, and comfortably integrates digital media and other technology into architectural spaces. Founded in 1997 by Eric Liftin, MESH has completed houses, office buildings, apartments, lofts, art installations, and web sites.
About Human Nature Projects Human Nature Projects is a multi-disciplinary design agency based on Brooklyn. With a combined experience of over thirty years working in architecture, media and conservation science in New York City, we bring a content-driven approach to design solutions of all scales. For the Environmental Education Center our team is made up of nearby Brooklyn residents who are not only frequent park users but also experienced interpretive guides of the history and nature to which the park provides access.