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Brooklyn Bridge Park Ecological Design

Quick Facts:

  • Shore Line Conversion: approximately 1.2 miles
  • Ecosystems Designs: Intertidal, tidal wetland, freshwater wetland, stormwater wetlands
  • Storm Surge Protection: Ecotypic, salt-tolerant plants and sandy soil composite

Project Summary:

Great Ecology served as the ecological designer on the Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates team, contributing strategic design and technical expertise to the conversion of East River industrial piers into recreational areas, which provide public access to restored native coastal and intertidal coastal habitats. This included an evaluation of similar restored habitats; a vegetative survey of the pre-restoration park site; and an ecological summit that covered a variety of topics including the current vegetative conditions, the growing medium and hydrological conditions, and proposed improvements for creating ecological uplift at the site.

As part of this uplift, Great Ecology was integral to the planning and design of freshwater wetlands, tidal wetlands, and tidal pool features, all of which serve as “living classrooms” for visitors. Additionally, Great Ecology helped design a cove that utilized white cedar stumps for both aethestic appeal and habitat creation. Careful analysis was done on appropriate placement of these stumps to enhance depositional structure on the shoreline.

To better manage stormwater and inundation, Great Ecology helped design the swale system throughout the park including determining elevations, dimensions, planting substrate, and plant species. Some of these swales are specifically designed to retain stormwater, and allow it to be filtered by plants, before it enters the East River. The salt-tolerant plantings, sandy soil composite, and other features of these designs helped the park withstand Hurricane Sandy, which left much of the park inundated by brackish water for more than four hours, with minimal loss to plant life.

Brooklyn Bridge Park represents one of the most important interfaces between ecology and urban public space in the United States, and is one of the City’s most spectacular public spaces.



  • 2014 National Planning Excellence Award for Urban Design - American Planning Association
  • 2011 Rudy Barner Award Silver Medalist
  • 2010 Honor Award for Master Plan - Design the Parks
  • 2009 Analysis & Planning - ASLA Honor Award

New York, NY