Now is the moment to rethink the Brooklyn
waterfront for the next 100 years.
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The BQE Triple-Cantilever and viaduct is a
6-lane highway structure running 1.5 miles
through the Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo
neighborhoods of New York City.
What will its future be?
Built by Robert Moses, the mid-century NYC planner,
in 1954, and designed by the landscape architects
Rapuano and Clark, the structure was the result of
intense negotiations with the community, and resulted
in the Brooklyn Heights Promenade on its upper tier -
one of the most iconic open spaces in New York City.
BQE Construction 1950s
In recent years, Brooklyn Bridge Park has transformed
the lower waterfront, opening Brooklyn’s former
working docklands to millions of residents from across
the city and visitors from around the world.
But today, the iconic triple-
cantilever structure running
along its length is in dire
need of repair.
Originally designed to accommodate 47,000 vehicles per day,
the structure currently carries 153,000 - and after decades of
neglect, steel reinforcement is rapidly corroding.
If not repaired by 2026, trucks will be
forced off of the roadway, with all traffic
becoming unviable in the early 2030s.
Now is the moment to rethink this
waterfront for the next 100 years.
Cheonggyecheon Urban Renewal, Seoul
East Side Coastal Resiliency Project
Memorial Arch Park, St. Louis
Alaskan Way Waterfront, Seattle
Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle
Presidio Tunnel Tops, San Francisco
By looking to our past, we can re-imagine our future.
San Francisco Embarcardero, 1980s and Today
Brooklyn Heights, 1876
What can we learn from our waterfront’s past?
The back of Brooklyn Bridge Park contains parking and a series of sound-attenuating hills, whose purpose is to block the sound and views of the exposed highway.
If the back of the park were used for temporary construction, BQE traffic could remain in place while at-grade highway and deck are constructed...
Scenario 1: Preserve BQE Viaduct
Once construction is complete, BQE traffic can be re-routed below the expanded park, and the existing viaduct repurposed as a new linear park!
Scenario 2: Replace BQE Viaduct
Alternatively, the hillside can be fully reconstructed, with parking and other activities integrated!
Mixed Use Amenities
The BQP concept creates a better connected,
and bigger, Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The exposed highway along the back of Brooklyn Bridge Park...
is relocated underneath an immersive new extension
of activity and nature!
Today's gap between the city and the waterfront...
is transformed into a showcase moment for NYC!
A compromised connection between downtown Brooklyn...
and the waterfront becomes a welcoming threshold into the park,
revealing generous views of the harbor and city skyline!
Over time, a corridor-wide study should determine future needs for rehabilitation or replacement, and identify opportunities for equitable urban improvements along the BK waterfront
Preserves historical promenade.
De-conflicts construction from community and active traffic.
Reduced cost and improved constructability as compared to other potential approaches.
Vastly improved waterfront condition.
Creation of new parkland - 8-12+ acres.
Improved N-S and E-W connectivity.
Improved sound and air quality.
Improved stormwater management.
Opportunities for new community amenities.
Potential for BQX/light-rail.
Potential for a continuous linear park running from DUMBO to Red Hook!
An order of magnitude cost estimate has been prepared by VJ Associates and Arcadis. Details of the estimate are available on page 162-163 of the BQP Report.
The estimate supports assumptions that an at-grade scheme could be built at similar or less cost than the current DOT baseline alternative.
If desired, the BQP scheme provides opportunities for revenue generation that may help buy down costs further.
If a short-term rehabilitation is undertaken as a first phase, shoring up of the triple-cantilever structure could build towards its future use as a park and pedestrian oriented structure, with roadway at Furman St. per Scenario 1 – Preserve BQE Viaduct.
If rehabilitation is undertaken as a longer-term strategy, core aspects of the BQP proposal could be accommodated as part of new reinforcement elements as well.
Joannene Kidder NYC DOT BQE Project Team
BQE Project Team phone: 332-999-4520
Questions? Get in touch!
This pro-bono study has been undertaken by BIG/Bjarke Ingels Group and its partners between Winter and Fall of 2019. Work has been undertaken without client or compensation, and is intended as a contribution to the public discourse around the BQE. All Rights Reserved BIG/Bjarke Ingels Group
The pro-bono BQP Team is a New York City-based group of design and engineering professionals, with a passion for creating better cities.
BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group
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