Productive Pier Park suggests a strategy to the development of waterfront sites which allows them to maintain their prior functions while expanding the site’s potential as a point of connection between housing, transit, and employment opportunities.

Productive Pier Park
Critics: Laurie Hawkinson +
 Vishaan Chakrabarti
With: Skylar Bisom-Rapp (Architecture) + Daniel Rojo + Martin Smith (Development)
Fall 2014

An active port facility leased to a beer distributor by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Pier 7 in the Brooklyn Marine Terminal is on the frontier between the docklands and the southernmost portion of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Our investigation began with a look at the history of New York’s waterfront, which has always been integral to the city’s identity: from a colonial port, to a manufacturing and distribution hub, to the era of waterfront redevelopment, to the flooding during Hurricane Sandy. In recent years, the cities waterways have been the site of major municipal policy initiatives. Whereas the Bloomberg administration sought to bolster public access to the water through a series of new parks supported by private development, the De Blasio administrations is attempting to harness it as an infrastructure, expanding the existing ferry system exponentially to serve as the backbone of new transit oriented development sites for affordable housing in the outer boroughs. One of the new proposed ferry terminals is at Pier 6, ostensibly at our site. Our analysis looked at the areas within a half mile radius of each of the new terminals and examined existing retail square footage (as a metric for identifying job centers,) existing housing units and unbuilt as-of-right residential FAR. 

The unit types and sizes were specified by the development program, but algorithmically shuffled and packed to break up the building’s mass. The massing was tapered on both ends: inland to relate to the scale of Brownstone Brooklyn and to the water to provide views. The whole project was lifted on stilts out of flooding concerns and to provide views from Brooklyn Bridge park clear through to the active port on the other side, connecting the public with the cities maritime legacy. In addition to the ferry, a new gondola system was proposed running from the Barclay’s Center along the Atlantic Avenue retail corridor to Governors Island, to further tie the site in to existing urban networks.