The Downtown Brooklyn Public Realm Action Plan is a masterplan for Brooklyn that aims to transform the neighborhood into an enjoyable, innovative urban environment based on sustainable mobility and green spaces. The plan is the work of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and WXY architecture + urban design (WXY), which have co-directed the plan since 2019 with the support of MNLA and Sam Schwartz Engineering. The project was commissioned and funded by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, a not-for-profit local development company that serves as the primary champion for Downtown Brooklyn as a world-class business, cultural, educational, residential, and retail destination.
Pedestrian zones with wide sidewalks, safe cycle paths, improved street crossings, and lots of colorful, attractive spaces will change the face of downtown Brooklyn, a multi-faceted district with art galleries; local and international businesses; educational, cultural, and government institutions; and a booming residential sector, where residents from a wide variety of backgrounds coexist in harmony. Since 2004, Downtown Brooklyn has experienced enormous growth, with a population increase of 30% (45,000 new residents) and 26% job growth, making it one of the most vibrant places to live in New York City.
Inspired by European cities with completely pedestrianized streets and the Danish approach to greenery and sustainability, the design vision of BIG and WXY reduces parking where possible to make way for bigger trees and planters to create shade and a comfortable microclimate, and to reduce urban heat islands. A unique aspect of the redevelopment is the way it borrows color from graffiti and street art, both of which are rooted in the history and identity of Brooklyn.
The result is a great deal of pedestrian space, with reduced traffic in alleys and streets, which can be transformed into shared or completely pedestrianized areas. By reshaping the sidewalk curbs and turning the asphalt surfaces into carpets of color, this part of downtown Brooklyn has been transformed into a pleasant and playful environment. With time, the district will fill with plants and murals, and will increasingly become a place where residents, workers, and visitors can meet outdoors, play sports, and play.
Location: New York City, USA
Client: Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
Architect: BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group and WXY architecture + urban design
Infrastructure: Sam Schwartz Engineering
Images courtesy of BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group