Pier 2 at Brooklyn Bridge Park
150 Furman Street, Brooklyn
Maryann Thompson Architects
It was a perfect day for Archtober-ites to walk onto Pier 2 at Brooklyn Bridge Park and engage in an enlightening tour of its creation, from concept to completion. Kait Kurs from Maryann Thompson Architects began at the entrance—the threshold that separates the big city and pier. It is what makes Pier 2 an island of recreation that includes playgrounds, picnic areas, an inline skating rink, and courts for basketball, handball, bocce, and tetherball. Essentially, it is a “toy box” for the larger park.
Last August, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) unveiled 14 proposed designs for a pair of controversial towers it planned to build near the park’s southern-most pier. Under a Bloomberg-era development plan, sites along the park would be leased to private developers to finance the upkeep of Michael Van Valkenburgh‘s 85-acre green space. These two towers near Pier 6 represented the last piece of the development puzzle.
When it opened in 2013, the Squibb Park Bridge that zigzagged between Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Bridge Park instantly became one of the most thrilling pieces of the waterfront retreat. The HNTB-designed pedestrian bridge was designed to have some bounce in it, so getting to the park was more than a typical pedestrian experience, it was a fun little adventure. At least for the humans voyaging across it—dogs hated it. The petrified, why-are-you-doing-this-to-me looks on their faces as the wood structure ebbed and flowed were haunting.
In our recent story about the current development surge happening in and around Dumbo, we touched on the controversy surrounding the Pierhouse—an under-construction hotel and condo complex next to the Brooklyn Bridge. The Marvel Architects–designed building, which will help cover Brooklyn Bridge Park‘s maintenance costs, has riled up local residents who say it is blocking their views of the iconic bridge.
Over the weekend, AN joined Open House New York on a tour of the under-construction Empire Stores warehouse in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The old coffee bean warehouse was built in the 1870s, but has been sitting empty along the East River for decades. By next fall, though, the Empire Stores will have been transformed with all the Brooklyn-type fixings you’d expect. Yes, there is an artisanal Brooklyn market featuring local purveyors. And office space for tech and creative companies. And cafes, restaurants, and beer gardens. Included in the mix is also a rooftop public park and a museum focused on New York City‘s waterfront.
All the top names in New York City architecture are vying for a piece of Brooklyn Bridge Park, but whether any of their designs will be realized still remains to be seen. As community groups try to block Mayor de Blasio’s controversial plans to bring affordable housing to Michael Van Valkenburgh‘s celebrated park, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has unveiled 14 design proposals for two coveted development sites on Pier 6. Those proposals were unveiled just hours before a Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation meeting that was packed with community members voicing their strong opposition to any new development in the park.
As AN covered earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio’s plan to bring affordable housing to Brooklyn Bridge Park has received steep opposition from local groups in neighboring Brooklyn Heights. They contend new housing development will eat up public space and that under-market housing would not provide necessary funding for park maintenance. Under a Bloomberg-era plan, revenue from private, market-rate development would help cover upkeep at the Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates-designed park. Under de Blasio, 30 percent of the two proposed towers for the park–one 31 stories and the other 16–would be subsidized. The groups opposing that plan have now formalized their opposition against it.
For over 120 years, the Municipal Art Society has been an important organization in New York City’s efforts to promote a more livable environment and preserve the best of its past. It’s successful preservation campaigns and advocacy for better architecture—such as its advocacy to rebuild a better Penn Station—are well known. Now the organization has announced its annual MASterworks Awards, and of the nine buildings selected this year as honorees, many are in Brooklyn, confirming that borough’s continuing upgrading evolution.
As Brooklyn Bridge Park opens two new piers, a planned green space five miles south continues to sit empty. Work began on Bush Terminals Piers Park in Sunset Park in 2009—just months after Brooklyn Bridge Park got started—but has been behind construction fencing ever since. The park was slated to start opening last fall, but that did not happen. And it’s still not clear when it will.
The opening of a new pier and beach at Michael Van Valkenburgh’s Brooklyn Bridge Park this week marks the halfway point in the transformation of the celebrated 85-acre site. Local elected officials and community leaders—including Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver—appeared on the new Pier 2 to mark the occasion. They used words like “amazing” and “unbelievable” to describe the new six acres of space, but didn’t need much help selling the project.
Bjarke Ingels and Michael Van Valkenburgh are teaming up to design Pier 6 at the southern end of Brooklyn Bridge Park. As AN reported, the pier will feature a pastoral landscape terminated by a triangular viewing pavilion called the Mantaray. The landscape and viewing platform will offer unmatched views of the Manhattan skyline and accommodate special events like concerts. Take a look at the gallery of renderings below or read more about the project here.