In July 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a series of initiatives to further the successful growth of Downtown Brooklyn into a thriving, 21st century Downtown. Among those was an opportunity to “Reinvent the Brooklyn Strand”— by connecting Downtown Brooklyn to its waterfront through a reimagined series of disconnected parks, plazas, and greenways between Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Bridge Park that have enormous potential to become the great promenade and gateway to Brooklyn.
In response to this vision, over 40 stakeholder groups from the Downtown Brooklyn community worked together to offer suggestions for what a “re-imagined Brooklyn Strand” could look like, complete with new connections and improvements that will reinvent this linear park to make it one of the borough’s great destinations and help make Brooklyn Bridge Park truly accessible by creating a seamless connection to major transit hubs in Downtown Brooklyn.
In March 2015, this long-term, community driven vision for the area developed by a design team led by WXY, was presented at a public meeting held in partnership with Community Board 2. The suggestions are preliminary and will require thorough review and due diligence by City agencies.
In 2012 Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern Seaboard, destroying thousands of businesses, homes, public amenities and regional infrastructure including the iconic Rockaway Boardwalks in Queens, NY, a peninsula beloved by surfers and beachcombers from around the world. To replace the boardwalk, city agencies, alongside the Army Corps of Engineers, commissioned a team to reimagine the six miles of beachfront with a resilient, creative vision. Nearly $480 million was allocated to the project through Sandy-relief funding.
The goal to achieve a resilient reconstruction of the boardwalks became the impetus to think more broadly and create an urban design framework and plan for climate change, not only for the boardwalk reconstruction but complementary plans for rebuilding the peninsula's parks and open spaces; this became the Rockaway Parks Conceptual Plan.
Based on an extensive community planning effort, a cohesive vision for the boardwalk and parks emerged featuring playgrounds, skate parks, performance spaces, and shade structures tailored to the beach environment. The reconstructed boardwalk stretches nearly five miles along the beach and features a number of new amenities.
The 40-foot wide boardwalk represents a model for innovative climate adaptation infrastructure. The design incorporates hard and soft measures to ensure the boardwalks’ longevity. Not only is the structure elevated above the 100-year floodplain on reinforced concrete piles, but the project also includes stabilization and planting of the existing sand dunes. The sand infill between the dunes is replenished and expanded and a new sand-retaining baffle wall under the boardwalk was added. A new “sand waII" minimizes sand movement off the beach but allows water flow. The two-fold goals of this reconstruction will help restore natural habitat in addition to reconnecting the residents of this barrier island.
The "dune" walk is created with wave-shaped, sand-colored and blue concrete planks, a new "kit of parts composed of bench types, stepped ramps, decks, railings, and seat walls, as well as the largest installation of the new LED City Light. The curved lines running the length of the boardwalk mirror the sinuous coastline. The blue planks create the pixels of a new supersized font that announce the identity of this beach community in giant letters visible from afar and to planes landing at JFK.
At dusk, the idea of the shore is reinforced by glow-in-the dark aggregate embedded in the blue planks, evoking the bioluminescence in the ocean.
In tandem with the park amenity structures and the Conceptual Plan, the Boardwalk Reconstruction project creates a more sustainable, resilient and active shoreline for the Rockaways.
Project completed with Fentress Architects for the Colorado Rockies. Planned for the parcel directly across the street from Coors Field, the project is programmed for the organization's Hall of Fame museum, residential and office towers, and active street level retail and dining.