Over the last 200 years, the waterfront area of Brooklyn became a busy industrial center – which acts as a barrier between the community and the waterfront. After a significant grassroots effort, New York decided to redevelop the area’s six piers and associated 1.3 miles of waterfront land into an 85-acre public park, which will help reverse the effects of industrialization to better serve the city. Today, the Brooklyn Bridge Park includes community gathering spaces; open playfields; extensive water recreation, such as fishing, a marina, and a safe-water kayak area; playgrounds; and a passive recreation area of spaces and trails in the restored native habitats, including over 15 acres of natural habitat. The design was guided by four criteria: connectivity, sustainability, economy of design, and economic self-sufficiency.
Nitsch Engineering & Land Surveying of New York (an associate firm of Nitsch Engineering) provided sustainable design and consulting services for the phased redevelopment of the existing Brooklyn Piers. During the conceptual design process, Nitsch Engineering explored sustainable concepts such as collecting, harvesting, and storing stormwater and using natural treatment processes before reusing the water within the site.
As the project moved forward, we prepared conceptual and schematic design plans and performed the calculations required to optimize the sustainable site systems. At five locations – Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park, Pier 1, between Piers 2 and 3, Pier 5, and Pier 6 – an underground water storage tank captures water from park landscape and pathways, created wetlands (which are stepped), and adjacent buildings. Some of the water is then recirculated back into the created wetlands, while other water is used to irrigate the park; overflow from the storage tanks is released into the East River. Nitsch Engineering designed the underground storage tanks, assisted in the design of weirs that separate the stepped wetlands, reviewed the sizing of the five wetland pools, and evaluated the peak elevations during various storm events.
Improvements have been completed for Pier 1, the uplands between Pier 1 and 2, Pier 2, the uplands between Piers 3 and 4, Pier 5, a portion of the Pier 5 uplands, Pier 6 and its uplands, and the Empire Fulton Ferry Park and Squibb Park Bridge (which spans Furman Street to provide a more direct connection into the park at Pier 1).