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Bushwick Inlet Park in Brooklyn, New York by Kiss + Cathcart, Architects
April 23rd, 2014 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Kiss + Cathcart, Architects
The Bushwick Inlet Park transforms the Brooklyn waterfront from a brownfield industrial strip into a public park. Located in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the design is the first step of an ambitious waterfront redevelopment along the East River. The design team has integrated a program of athletic fields, community facility and a NYC Park maintenance and operation facility into a 6.2-acre park.
The Park wraps over the building on the west side, turning the building into a green hill so that 100% of the site is accessible to the public. A zigzag path provides ADA access to the top, where a large wood-framed canopy provides shade and views over the play fields to the Manhattan skyline. Direct building access for the public and the Parks staff is provided from the street edge below.
Program: The 13,300-square-foot ground floor is divided into the northern section which houses the maintenance facilities for the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the southern section which is a community center run by the non-profit Open Space Alliance. Each program area has its own separate entrance.
Phase 1 (the play field) opened summer 2010 and Phase 2 opened October 2013.
Design & Innovation
The initial program requirements just called for a LEED Silver building in a park. The design team, however, felt strongly that public space in a sensitive waterfront site required intensive integration of use, program, and environment, and should target a much higher environmental performance standard. The project maximizes public space, with the park rising up over the building. Under the northwest-facing green roof, the building is conceived as earth-sheltered, with controlled southeast and southwest solar exposures. Despite the subterranean experience of the building (with abstracted recycled aluminum tree-root chandeliers projecting through the lobby ceiling), all occupied spaces, including the lobby, have abundant natural light.
The all-electric, primarily solar-powered mechanical systems use no roof space for chillers, flues, or vents, and generate no noise or emissions. Irrigation of the green roof–a critical requirement for such an intensively used surface–is provided by captured rainwater and graywater from the playground sprinklers.
The building is designed as a useful and beautiful public space, inside and out, responding to the differing conditions of the city and the park. On the park side, the building and landscape are one; on the street side, the public facades features a colonnade of vertical wood sunshades marking the entrance to the most significant new park in north Brooklyn.
The Greenpoint Williamsburg Waterfront Open Space Master Plan was developed in conjunction with many community groups, to address local concerns about the 2005 upzoning of the neighborhood and resultant increase in density along the waterfront. The park gives the community access to the waterfront, both physically and conceptually as it reinforces the neighborhood’s sense of place and relationship to Manhattan. It also provides park land and recreational opportunities in a neighborhood which had comparatively little open space. The athletic field is one of the most heavily used fields in the city, with soccer games running until 11:00 most nights.
North 9th Street was extended as a pedestrian path at the southern edge of Bushwick Inlet Park, reinforcing the existing street grid and continuing it to the water. The park was designed to continue the State Park’s pathways from the south and to link to the future phases of the Master Plan to the north.
The vast majority of visitors come by public transport or bicycle. Within a few blocks there is bus, subway, an East River Ferry dock, a bike path, a Citi Bike share dock, and many residents. The only parking provided is for park maintenance personnel, with six spaces under the green roof in the north yard, and two inside in the garage.
Estimated percent of occupants using public transit, cycling or walking:
Land Use & Site Ecology
A degraded industrial site is now a transect from city to nature, along the 850 feet from Kent Avenue to the East River. The plan maximizes park area for intensive urban use while incorporating comprehensive stormwater management, creating native plant communities, and restoring the river edge, the site’s most significant natural feature.
No stormwater from the site enters the local combined sewer system. Collected rainwater is stored and treated to irrigate the sloping green roof. The rest of the site, including the permeable athletic field and swale gardens, infiltrates rainwater into the ground, or, in severe storms, filters site overflow through a constructed wetland to join the East River, recreating a natural water cycle.
The sloping roof allows the entire building footprint to be usable park area, while an artificial turf field accommodates over 1,000 users per week. Bioswales flank the park paths to the waterfront, where a grass knoll and a permeable plaza give a tree-shaded overlook. The waterfront supports marine and avian life, with an off-shore island, a varied rocky edge, and marsh plantings.
The restored waterfront edge withstood inundation by Hurricane Sandy in with minimal damage, its native plants and tide pools unscathed, testament to its sustainable site design.
The building’s form is designed to optimize passive solar opportunities. The green roof slopes down to the northwest, sheltering the occupied spaces from western sun and prevailing winds, while the public façades with the most openings face southwest and southeast. These are shaded from summer sun by a horizontal roof overhang and vertical wood louvers oriented north south while allowing winter sun to penetrate. Windows in the brick façade have horizontal exterior shades which also act as light shades. Windows average 16% of wall areas, but are strategically placed to optimize daylighting, and all regularly occupied spaces are daylit and have operable windows.
Additional summer cooling is provided by the insulation, shading and evapotranspiration of the green roof, which varies from 12” to 30” in depth (including insulation).
Light & Air
Daylight: Despite the fact that the building is under a bermed hill, daylight is provided to all interior occupied spaces. Horizontal light shelves on the office windows in the maintenance facility reflect light further into the rooms.
Controls: All lights are controlled by time clock, occupancy sensors, and/or photocells for daylight harvest, managed by a central lighting control system.
Artificial Lighting: Interior lighting uses fixtures with high lumens/watt and a combination of ambient, task and accent lighting lowers energy requirements. Exterior lighting on the building is dark-sky compliant, and enhances the form of the structure.
Ventilation: All regularly occupied spaces have operable windows to allow natural ventilation. Mechanical ventilation is demand-controlled with a zoned system; each space with occupancy fluctuations is controlled by carbon dioxide sensors.
Daylighting at levels that allow lights to be off during daylight hours:
Views to the Outdoors:
Within 15 feet of an operable window:
Green Roof Irrigation: Extending the park over the building is the primary design concept, and depends heavily on keeping the grass healthy and thriving. Since NYC DPR does not water their plants, irrigating the green roof using non-potable water was a critical design performance goal.
Rainwater is collected from plazas and the roof canopy, stored in a 15,000-gallon underground cistern and used exclusively for root-drip irrigation of the green roof. Using NOAA average rainfall data, the 17,500-square-foot green roof will be completely irrigated using harvested rainwater (46%) and harvested spray-ground gray water (54%), without any municipal potable water required. The spray-ground is a convenient and predictable water source, since in hot weather, high sprinkler use coincides with high turf evapotranspiration. In fact, a modest 80 minutes per day of summer spray-ground use can irrigate the entire green roof, without any rainfall harvesting at all. This is using a gray water resource that would otherwise be discarded into the municipal storm/sanitary system. Irrigation is managed by a Rainbird controller with rain gauge sensor.
Domestic Water Use: With almost one thousand daily visitors, the park has a high water usage for its size. Low flow fixtures save over 114,000 gallons annually, or 47% of the baseline.
Total Project Water Savings: The total annual potable water savings (including irrigation) exceed 500,000 gallons, or 35% of the baseline.
Percent reduction of regulated potable water:
Is potable water used for irrigation:
Percent of rainwater from maximum anticipated 24 hour, 2-year storm event that can be managed onsite:
Energy Flows & Energy Future
Bushwick Inlet Park has a high performance building envelope and mechanical systems, and energy modeling calculates it will save 51% of energy compared to Ashrae 90.1-2004 baseline.
Envelope: Thermal bridging is minimized by use of 12” thick autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) block, and continuous interior spray-on glass fiber insulation, which also provides air sealing.
Mechanical Systems: Heating and air-conditioning is provided by ground source heat pump units. These units will reject/absorb heat to/from 15 closed-loop wells drilled to bedrock. Radiant floor hydronic heating is provided in all rooms except the garage, for efficiency, durability and comfort. Energy recovery ventilation units and demand-controlled ventilation are provided where appropriate. Dual temperature control or air-side economizers are introduced to most of the mechanical systems. Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) control fans and pumps (with two-way valves).
Renewable Power: A 66.15 kWp photovoltaic canopy above the Upper Plaza generates 36% of the design case building electrical usage. No fossil fuels are used in the building, and the remaining electricity is partially wind power, per NYC green power purchase agreements.
Controls: The Building Management System (BMS) monitors outdoor conditions, space conditions and mechanical systems. Direct digital controls are provided for all aspects of the HVAC systems. Real-time energy use and production are displayed on an energy dashboard in the lobby.
Percent Reduction from National Median EUI for Building Type:
Lighting Power Density:
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