Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy (Conservancy) and Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) are pleased to announce that the Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center opened to the public September 10 at 11 am. The Center is located at 99 Plymouth in a former New York City Department of Environmental Protection maintenance building that BBP has converted for park use. The Conservancy was responsible for outfitting and funding the classroom’s interior construction and will operate the Center, using it as a home base for its extensive education programming.
In addition to the Environmental Education Center, 99 Plymouth is part of a $6 million renovation of Main Street park designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. This facility, designed by ARO for $4.5 million, provides a community space, public restrooms, and contains park operations.
Con Edison and New York City Council Member Stephen Levin have provided leadership funding for the Center’s build-out, enabling the classroom to open in fall of 2015. Con Edison committed $250,000 to the project over five years. Councilmember Levin awarded $163,000 for the Center as part of the City’s 2015 Capital Budget.
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.
Significant support from the TD Charitable Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, 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 expenses.
Launched in 2008 through funding secured by Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, the Conservancy’s education program has welcomed over 46,000 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 programs, 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.
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 open hours that are tentatively scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays 1–4 pm and Thursdays 3–5 pm.
“Brooklyn Bridge Park links us to the waterfront in a unique and valuable way, allowing New Yorkers and their children to dip their toes in the waters of science and education,” said Francis A. Resheske, Con Edison’s Senior Vice President for Public Affairs. “This environmental center, which we’re proud to support, will be a place to learn more about our waterfront and the natural resources we are all bound to protect and preserve.”
“We are overjoyed by the opening of the Environmental Education Center,” said Nancy Webster, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. “This dynamic space provides all Brooklyn Bridge Park visitors the exciting opportunity to explore the park at a deeper level. We are incredibly grateful to Con Edison, Council Member Stephen 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.”
“The Environmental Education Center is a wonderful addition to the northern end of the park,” said Regina Myer, Brooklyn Bridge Park President. “Thanks to the Conservancy, thousands of students from across the City will benefit from the environmental education that is one of the core missions of the park. I’d also like to thank our designers ARO and MVVA for their incredible work on our newest section of the park.”
““Brooklyn’s parks are our backyards, and Brooklyn Bridge Park has been a destination backyard for Brooklynites and visitors from all over the globe since the park’s inception,” stated Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “The opening of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center will only add to an already world-class park, and the education center’s programming will open the eyes of children to the world of ecology, environmental sustainability, and innovation in urban design, as well as all the future opportunities those areas of interest can provide. Kudos to Con Edison, Council Member Levin, Nancy Webster and all the generous benefactors who made this center a reality.”
“I am proud to support the Environmental Education Center and thrilled that it will soon be open to the public,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. This center will allow kids from across the borough to learn about and connect with Brooklyn’s marine life and maritime heritage. I’m sure the education center will become a treasured part of Brooklyn Bridge Park and an exciting destination for students across the city.”
“Many have said water is New York’s sixth borough, and the Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center helps educate visitors to the park about our watershed and overall environment,” stated Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY). “It is fitting that this education program that started in 2008 has a new home. At a time when we are all concerned about climate change, this program is preparing the next generation of environmental stewards.”
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 250-gallon display aquarium, designed by City Aquarium, will showcase fish and invertebrates collected from the Hudson River Estuary that are carefully monitored and regularly released back into the river. The aquarium will also contain a child-friendly touch tank where visitors can gently interact with marine animals. Current residents of the tank include spider crabs, oyster toad fish, hermit crabs, and striped bass.
An interactive discovery station, featuring a 10’ scale model of Brooklyn Bridge Park, 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 fish morphology and the physics of suspension bridges. 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 and fabricated by Moey Inc., 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.
“This is a momentous step for the Conservancy,” stated Nancy Bowe, Chairman of the Conservancy’s Board of Directors. “Thanks to the generosity of Conservancy supporters and to the creativity of its staff, the Environmental Education Center will add an enriching, engaging, and weatherproof dimension to the Conservancy’s education programming. The Discovery Station, with its scale model of the Park and interactive displays, will enchant visitors of all ages and interests, and my husband and I were delighted to have supported it. I can’t wait for park visitors to discover this unique waterfront gem!”
“The Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center offers a creative way for children to learn about the environment and TD is proud to support such a wonderful effort,” said Peter Meyer, Market President, TD Bank. “As an environmental leader, TD considers the environment in everything we do, so we are extremely happy to support a program that aligns with our pillars.”
“Situated on the bank of the East River, the new Center will immerse students in the deep, complex river ecosystem while serving as a base for explorations,” said Eric Liftin of MESH Architectures. “Our design echoes this richness with a dense array of displays, shelves, and interactives to prime the imagination. This is a place for kids to be swept up in an exciting, alternative universe, so different from their daily habitat, and to learn about and become comfortable in this world.”
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.
Visit our Environmental Education page for details on open hours.