Two Trees Management Company, a New York-based real estate development firm, has presented a master plan for the Northern Brooklyn waterfront, a new approach to urban resiliency. Designed by BIG and Field Operations, the project puts in place a mixed-use development and a resilient park.
Located on a site that was once home to the No. 6 fuel oil storage complex for Con Edison North First Street Terminal, the project features a park that holds a “protected public beach and in-water infrastructure designed to increase resilience and foster direct relationship to river”, and a mixed-use project reflecting “community feedback, public open space, below-market housing, and dedicated YMCA community space”.
Elevating the standard for coastal resiliency in the region, the River Street plan is a breakthrough in urban, resilient development which honors Two Trees’ commitment to cultivating dynamic, community-centered neighborhoods, […] In the wake of Sandy, this project will mitigate the potential impact from future storms while transforming New Yorkers’ relationship with the water through wading, boating, and other waterfront activities. Building off Domino Park’s success, this project delivers another privately-funded, world-class public space far larger than is required by zoning regulations and offers comprehensive community benefits to the East River waterfront. -- Jed Walentas, Principal of Two Trees Management.
Related ArticleArchitects Propose to Repurpose Decommissioned Industrial Tanks on Brooklyn’s Waterfront
The proposal will generate 2.9 acres of public open space and another 3.0 acres of protected in-water access. The master plan features 2 mixed-income residential buildings designed by BIG, with a total of 1,000 units of housing, 250 of which will be below-market-rate, a new 47,000 square-foot YMCA, 30,000 square feet of neighborhood retail space and 57,000 square feet for office space. Around six acres of open space will be designed by Field Operations, including a circular esplanade, an amphitheater, a large sandy beach, tidal pools, salt marsh, and a fishing pier. The community kiosks will be available for local community partners.
Our proposal closes one of the last remaining gaps in the continuous transformation of the Williamsburg waterfront into a post-industrial natural habitat. Rather than stopping at the hard edge of the old dock, Metropolitan avenue is split into a pedestrian loop extending all the way into the river, connecting the dots of the concrete caissons to form an urban archipelago of recreative islands while protecting a beach and body of water for water sports and wetlands, […] The radical transformation of Copenhagen’s port into a swimmable extension of the public space that we helped pioneer two decades ago, now seems to be knocking at the door in Williamsburg and the entire East River. The River Loop will be the first of many invitations for New Yorkers to dip their toes in the water. -- Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner & Creative Director of BIG.
According to the architects, the master plan aims to enhance the connectivity of the public waterfront, reinstate natural habitats, elevate the standard for urban waterfront resiliency, and transform the way New Yorkers interact with the East River. The public park will come as an addition to the continuous waterfront access that will eventually extend from South Williamsburg to Greenpoint. Finally, on resiliency and habitat restoration, “the River Street plan embraces the river instead of building walls and hard surfaces that accelerate storm surge and push it to adjacent riverfronts”. Berms, breakwaters, marshes, and wetlands in open spaces will increase resilience by taking the energy out of storm surges, reducing flooding, providing more room to absorb water and slow down its retreat, etc.
With our project, we have an extraordinary opportunity to provide a catalytic model for natural, urban shorelines that increase resilience, dramatically enhance the Williamsburg shoreline and change the mindset from living against water to living with water, […] On the heels of the recently passed Living Shorelines Act in the House of Representatives, there is clear support and acknowledgment of the power of nature-based infrastructure to help protect communities and combat climate change. Resilient design needs to become the rule, not the exception for coastal development, and our proposal sets a strong example for how climate-conscious design can fuel thriving mixed-use communities, provide extraordinary and safe experiences for engagement with the river, and create opportunities for nature and estuary education. -- Lisa Switkin, Senior Principal at James Corner Field Operations and lead designer of the park.