City landmarks gurus approve plaza design beneath Brooklyn Bridge

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved plans for a new plaza beneath Brooklyn Bridge on May 19.
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved an $8 million project to install a new pedestrian plaza beneath Brooklyn Bridge Park on May 19 — officially greenlighting the sweeping proposal to overhaul the currently fenced-off lot at Water Street into a two-acre civic space with a reshaped Fulton Ferry Lawn and new paving.

Brooklyn Bridge Park, the semi-private corporation overseeing Brooklyn’s front yard, will break ground in late fall and wrap up construction in December 2021, according to its president Eric Landau, who envisioned the new pedestrian plaza as a long-overdue connector between Dumbo with the rest of the waterfront park south of Brooklyn’s namesake span.

A birds-eye view of the new layout of the plaza and Fulton Ferry Lawn.Brooklyn Bridge Park

Most of the hard surface will be asphalt, but architects also designed a stretch of so-called concrete unit pavers directly beneath the bridge patterned in different shades of grey to mirror  the overpass above, according to Landau.

Three sloped planting beds and security bollards along Water Street will protect the bridge’s abutment, hindering someone from driving off the road and slamming their vehicle into the 183-year-old structure, according to the green space guru.

The Department of Transportation also has its own security bollards directly around the abutment of the bridge that the agency oversees, and some of the poles near Water Street will be removable so that parks maintenance and city transportation workers still have access to the area.

The plans garnered the support of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Community Board 2, the latter of which gave its purely advisory approval at a digital Executive Committee meeting on April 27.

The commissioners largely supported the plans, but some local watchdogs took issue with some of the details, including the 35-foot high lighting poles and the use of asphalt for much of the paving, with some arguing that they should use granite instead.

Brooklyn Bridge Park leaders want to install concrete unit pavers directly beneath the bridge patterned in different shades of grey mirroring the overpass above.Brooklyn Bridge Park

“The multitude and height of these lights has an air of surveillance,” said Kelly Carroll at the virtual public hearing Tuesday for the project. “More can and should be done to conceal these fixtures in a more graceful and less intrusive manner.”

The city landmarks gurus in 2008 approved the demolition of the Art Deco Purchase Building beneath the bridge to make way for a park, and the plaza will mark the final component of the almost 14-year redevelopment of the once working waterfront into a sprawling 1.3-mile recreational haven.

The other remaining project in the park are the Pier 2 Uplands which is scheduled to finish this summer.

The Commission voted nine in favor, one against, and with one abstention to approve the designs.