Brooklyn, NY (2003–2010)
Pier One, the first 9.5-acre portion of Brooklyn Bridge Park to be completed, is a park where the enjoyment of the landscape, both immediate and distant, is a primary programmatic attraction. Although Pier One is by no means natural, it is a place where city dwellers can come to enjoy nature. Seating, views, pathways, and spaces for large and small events are woven into a new complex topography and a diverse matrix of plants. Lawns and gardens contribute to and interact with related site systems such as stormwater capture, cleansing, and reuse. Most importantly, Pier One creates a new opportunity to get down to the level of the East River safely. A spiral rip-rap ramp and kayak launch, which lengthens and shortens according to tidal levels, creates easy access between the upland and the water's edge.

Throughout Pier One, excess stormwater is collected from buildings, paved areas, lawns, and planting areas, conveyed into underground tanks, and then cycled through rain gardens, supporting and being cleansed by a lush and showy swath of rain-garden planting. This runoff collection system, in conjunction with the increased use of water-absorbing lawn and planted areas, dramatically curtails the discharge of stormwater runoff into city systems and lowers the likelihood that untreated overflow from the site is introduced directly into the East River.

A program of material salvage and reuse supports a sense of waterfront continuity amidst change; wooden piles remain in place, salvaged granite blocks create dramatic banks of seating, and the wood for the benches was hewn from the yellow pine timbers that structured one of the warehouses dismantled from the site. Because of its relatively solid foundation and the careful selection of materials, Pier One is able to support a robust new site topography that corresponds with its position as an ideal prospect for enjoying the breathtaking panorama of the Manhattan skyline and the New York Harbor.

Video: Van Valkenburgh Tours Brooklyn Bridge Park
Video: Van Valkenburgh Looks Out at the Water and...

Brooklyn Bridge Park
The New Yorker's 2010 Architectural Events of the Year
Urban Omnibus - "Park as Process: Brooklyn Bridge Park"
ASLA - "Reinventing Public Place in NYC: Brooklyn Bridge Park"
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