brooklyn bridge park: a visual biography of one of NYC's best parks

brooklyn bridge park: a visual biography of one of NYC's best parks

a new monograph documents the decades-long project

 

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), the landscape architecture practice behind New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park, has published a new monograph documenting the transformation of the abandoned East River waterfront into a vibrant, award-winning public space. The colossal project began as a dream of local activists in the 1980s and was officially completed in 2021 to become one of the most important parks in New York. It brings picturesque rambles, meadows overgrown with native flowers, sloping lawns and places for play — all before dramatic views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, the lower Manhattan skyline, and even the Statue of Liberty beyond. With over 300 photographs and drawings, the book is a visual biography of the ambitious work of urban and landscape design in New York City. It illustrates ‘how one park was designed to be democratic at its core,’ and welcomes readers into ‘that wonderful space between the first expression of an idea and a living, everyday landscape.’ Brooklyn Bridge Park, has been published on January 31st, 2024 with Monacelli, a Phaidon company and is available for purchase here.

brooklyn bridge park: a visual biography of one of NYC's best parksimage by designboom

 

 

an industrial waterfront reclaimed for new yorkers

 

The waterfront site of Brooklyn Bridge Park was once a desolate, industrial expanse of flat, paved surfaces, overwhelmed by the constant roar of traffic from the elevated Brooklyn-Queens Expressway nearby. Through its Brooklyn Bridge Park monograph, the team at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) shares rare images of this forgotten space, highlighting its transformation from six abandoned shipping piers into the thriving eighty-five acre park it is today. This glimpse into the past underscores the crucial role landscaped public spaces play in shaping New York City’s character. Despite offering a lush oasis from the urban environment, the park maintains an unrelenting connection with Brooklyn and Manhattan.

brooklyn bridge park: a visual biography of one of NYC's best parks
book image by designboom

 

 

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates curates Brooklyn Bridge Park as a series of unfolding landscapes and programs in which visitors might lose themselves. Julie Bargmann highlights this point in the monograph foreword: ‘Michael and the design team use the term ‘getting lost’ to conjure up the sense of the immersion they imagined for the park, spending hours wandering on the former industrial site.’

 

With a multitude of named spaces filling its eighty-five acres, Brooklyn Bridge Park could still appear wonderfully overcrowded with program,’ she continues. ‘Rather than a checklist of activities, the mosaic of experiences collages as readings of the site are magnified by sculpted water, landform, and planted form.

brooklyn bridge park: a visual biography of one of NYC's best parks
book image by designboom

 

 

Michael Van Valkenburgh brings the reader back to the beginning of the planning and design of Brooklyn Bridge Park. The first public public meeting concerning the future park took place in 1999. He recounts learning to compromise with the City of New York and the existing infrastructure, as well as the natural environment and forces of climate change. The project was driven by empathy, optimism, and informality. As a park for the people — and the wildlife that lives there — it was designed in collaboration with the community, with frugal construction methods, reclaimed materials, and unmannered plantings inspired by the region.

Above all, the park is designed as a democratic landscape where the public can experience the beauty of a moment in nature. ‘We did not aim for park visitors to be preoccupied by, say, the technical achievement of transforming cracked concrete into a thriving wetland,‘ Van Valkenburgh comments. ‘Better to have people walk past a line of turtles basking on a log in a pond and feel the quiet pleasure of belonging among other living things.

brooklyn bridge park: a visual biography of one of NYC's best parks
book image by designboombrooklyn bridge park: a visual biography of one of NYC's best parks
book image by designboom

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book image by designboom

brooklyn bridge park: a visual biography of one of NYC's best parks
book image by designboom brooklyn bridge park: a visual biography of one of NYC's best parks
book image by designboom

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