Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn, NY
Key Elements
  • Waterfront park in urban landscape 
  • Sustainable stormwater management 
  • Underground stormwater storage 

Since the 19th century, the waterfront area of Brooklyn had become a busy industrial center – which acted as a barrier between the community and the waterfront. After a significant grassroots effort, New York City decided to redevelop the area’s six piers and associated 1.3 miles of waterfront land into an 85-acre public park, which helped 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 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 explored sustainable concepts such as collecting, harvesting, and storing stormwater, and using natural treatment processes before reusing the water within the site.  

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 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. 

Key Collaborators

Owner: Brooklyn Bridge Park 
Landscape Architect: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. 
Construction Manager: Skanska USA 
Irrigation Consultant: Northern Designs LLC 
Local Civil Engineer: AECOM