Behind the Design of the Brooklyn Bridge Park
Urbanski is a principal at the landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and he talks about the challenges of reviving what was an almost forgotten piece of the urban realm.
"Brian Davis: You have described Brooklyn Bridge Park as a result of 'the retreat of the industrial glacier.' That seems a visceral and appropriate image. How has that legacy - the legacy of shipping and industry - influenced what MVVA and the project team have done here on Pier 1?
Matthew Urbanski: One of the challenges of Pier 1 was that there was no one actually here. For decades the site had been mostly empty, so it wasn't part of a collective public experience. It was a shipping terminal, built on landfill. And there's an essential dichotomy on the site. The edge is a really dynamic place - you have amazing and expansive views of the Brooklyn Bridge, of New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline. Sometimes the view includes huge freighters passing back and forth. But the middle of the site was a boring place - a completely flat stretch of concrete. So that defined the challenge - how to draw people into the middle, how to make it a dynamic place, without competing with what's happening at the edges."