Brooklyn, New York, USA
Designed by SCAPE and initiated by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, The Gowanus Lowlands is a framework plan for a network of parks and open spaces that define the Gowanus Canal and its watershed community.
Following ULURP Certification, SCAPE has revealed new renderings that illustrate an exciting future for the Gowanus Canal waterfront and the surrounding streetscape.
From Gowanus Forward, a consortium of developers including Domain Companies, Monadnock, and PMG, the renderings detail a drastically reinvigorated public thoroughfare with open green spaces, recreational boating, new benches, and a winding esplanade.
Gowanus has a rich history. Originally a large, marshy wetland, the area is the site of the early Dutch settlement, important Revolutionary War battles, and commercial industrial activity stretching back over 100 years.
Now an EPA Superfund site, planners and real estate developers envision the area to be a locus of large residential development—a controversial proposal in light of the area’s overburdened infrastructure and highly-contaminated environment. In this context, and working closely with local community organizations, government agencies, and elected officials.
SCAPE’S design process was inspired by the historic lowlands image superimposed on today’s street grid – reflecting the Gowanus as a place of constant change and transformation.
The Project synthesizes multiple conditions that are changing the neighborhood, including sea-level rise, the superfund cleanup and planning studies.
The Gowanus Lowlands is a template for change that values and protects the weird and powerful experiences of the Gowanus Canal, while improving neighborhood and ecological health over time.
The land around the canal has been inaccessible and contaminated for decades. Property along the waterfront would be remediated under the supervision of New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection before new buildings could be occupied.
The canal waters are currently undergoing cleanup by the Environmental Protection Agency.
SCAPE’S plan dialogues with the Canal’s Superfund cleanup, local and state environmental remediation efforts, as well as a potential city rezoning that could encourage more development.
Beyond the creation of new public areas, the rezoning is expected to facilitate the creation of approximately 8,500 new housing units. This includes roughly 3,000 income-restricted affordable apartments.
“The Gowanus rezoning presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create beautiful, publicly accessible open space along a cleaned-up canal front, desperately needed affordable housing and dedicated space for the artists and makers who have contributed to the neighborhood’s rich artistic and cultural history,” said Frank Dubinsky, COO from Monadnock.
“But, it’s imperative that we get this right by ensuring that the open space is cohesive in design, accessible to all, and contributes to the neighborhood’s resiliency.”
Architects: SCAPE Landscape Architecture
Design Team: Daniel Hernandez, Gena Wirth, Hannah Davis, Ji Huang, John Donnelly, Lee Altman, Michy McCreary, Nick Shannon, Sierra Druley, Sophie Riedel, Will DiBernardo
Developers: Domain Companies, Monadnock, and PMG
Client: The Gowanus Canal Conservancy