In Focus

Take a VIRTUAL TOUR of the Park (New Video Posted!)

The 100th Annual Meeting of the Brooklyn Heights Association on Feb. 23rd featured Michael Van Valkenburgh, a principal of the landscape design firm behind Brooklyn Bridge Park. Van Valkenburgh provided an informative inside look at the past, present and future of the magnificent sliver of Brooklyn shoreline that is finally coming to life as a world-class waterfront park. He discussed the thinking behind the design and the unique challenges posed along the way — topographical, infrastructural, governmental — and led a virtual walkthrough of those sections of the Park about to open, currently under construction and in development. And our video team was there to capture it all to share with a wider audience.

Also at the meeting was the annual presentation of Awards for Community Service and Architectural Excellence. Tom Stewart, proud Heights resident and on-air personality at Channel 13, handled the presentation to the four recipients in his inimitable style. Watch all the videos below, or go to the new BHA YouTube Channel.

Another meeting highlight: BHA President Tom van den Bout presented the association's annual review, reporting on the notable neighborhood issues and events of the year past and, as important, focusing on the future as the BHA moves into its second hundred years. Tom's presentation is available here.

Great New Park Video! (Posted 3/26/10)
And check out this great video introduction to Brooklyn Bridge Park and its design, featuring the team at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, BBPDC President Regina Myer, and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.


 

Brooklyn Bridge Park Presentation
Part 1: The Design Context of Brooklyn Bridge Park
Part 2: Guiding Principles of the Park Design
Part 3: Welcome to Pier 1
Part 4: Pier 2 In Development
Part 5: 'A Wave of Green' and a Look at Pier 6

Community Awards
Part 1: Promenade Gardener Jonathan Landsman & Volunteers
Part 2: Architectural Excellence

 


Part 1: The Design Context of Brooklyn Bridge Park
Michael Van Valkenburgh is a principal of the design firm bearing his name, which has been involved in designing Brooklyn Bridge Park for 12 years. Valkenburgh was the featured speaker at the Brooklyn Heights Association's Annual Meeting on Feb. 23, 2010. In his presentation, Van Valkenburgh describes the design of a park as "the most extraordinary manifestation of a group of people collectively trying to shape the world they live in." He then establishes the context for Brooklyn Bridge Park, reviewing how "incredibly dynamic and transitory the water edge of Brooklyn has been for hundreds of years."
 


Part 2: Guiding Principles of the Park Design
Van Valkenburgh introduces some of the guiding principles of the park's design: the importance of entrances, the rationale for the location of features throughout the park, and the incorporation of multiple dramatic view planes to take full advantage of this spectacular setting. "When you stand on Pier 1 or 6 or anyplace," he explained, "you're on 65 acres of land but you're next to 800 open acres of water, and it's just spectacular. And I can't wait for you all to be there and making it part of your everyday life."
 


Part 3: Welcome to Pier 1

Van Valkenburgh discusses the focus on "setting a new standard" in the innovative use of recycled materials, and takes you on a "meandering" walk on Pier 1, scheduled for opening in the spring. "For the design team," he said, "the linearity of the BQE, the straightness of Brooklyn Bridge, and geometry of Manhattan needed to be complemented through contrast... So the park allows you to meander and stroll. By walking on a curve, the path goes away from you and the landscape is in front of you."
 


Part 4: Pier 2 In Development

Van Valkenburgh moves deeper into the park, reviewing the plans for the connecting bridge from Squibb Park (which will enable easy pedestrian access from the heart of the Heights), the full range of sports and recreation facilities to be built on Pier 2, and the amazing tidal cove and kayak launch now taking shape in the upland area. "People wanted to feel connected to the water," he said. "They wanted to feel the water's edge."
 


Part 5: 'A Wave of Green' and a Look at Pier 6
Van Valkenberg describes the "wave of green" built up toward the BQE to create a "landscape embrace" that also serves to mitigate road noise and simulate what it was like before the expressway was built. Then he moves quickly through the old railroad Pier 4, the Pier 5 picnic peninsula and ball fields, and focuses on the Atlantic Avenue entrance and Pier 6, which will soon come alive as state-of-the-art playground, featuring Swing Valley and a cafe built in a "humble concrete building" that was on the site before construction. By repurposing elements of what was, the designers have "made a real effort to keep a memory trace", connecting the site's industrial past to its reimagined future.


Community Awards
 


Community Service Award: Promenade Gardener Jonathan Landsman & Volunteers
The Award for Extraordinary Community Service went to Jonathan Landsman, the "Promenade Gardener", who has led a team of volunteers as part of a public-private partnership (between the Parks Department and the BHA) to bring the gardens back from their state of neglect to a flourishing future. The Heights volunteers who have joined Jonathan to make a difference are Rivolye Alex , Molly Buccella, Herbert J. Cohen, Mary Ellson, Bruce Gregory, Lucile Gruber, Grace Gutman, Deborah Hallen, Maureen Healy, Pearl Hochstadt, Holly Kozak, William McBride. Serhiy Mshanetskiy, Diana Prizeman, Alan & Karen Neuberg, Julia Ryan, Steven Sachs, Karen Schlesinger, and Koren Volk.
 


Community Awards: Architectural Excellence
A highlight of the evening was the presentation of three awards to those who have made a difference in the Heights architecturally. This year's Architectural Excellence Awards recognized restoration-minded renovations at 14 Grace Court Alley, 36 Grace Court and 68 Hicks Street.

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