At the East River terminus of Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates has already transformed 1.6 acres of Pier 6 into a whimsical playscape of rocky crags and spraying water interspersed by lush plantings. This landscape forms the southern anchor for the wildly-popular 86-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP). Now Van Valkenburgh is teaming up with Bjarke Ingels, founder of BIG, to complete the landscape and add an architectural statement at the pier.
Van Valkenburgh’s new landscape is intended to be more pastoral and less programmed than the first half of the pier, building on the most successful elements of the rest of the park. “We wanted a large lawn at the end of the pier. We learned from the success of Pier 1 that people like to gather,” Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, told AN. Surrounded by a wide promenade at its perimeter, the design for Pier 6 includes a broad lawn for large events connected to land by a green swath flanked by densely planted beds that act as acoustical barriers.
In the center of the pier, a field of indigenous flowers serves as a focal point uniting the landscape. Myer said the flower garden will be planted with an array of plants that give it three distinct seasonal shows of color.
At one corner, a stepped, triangular platform forms a 17-foot-tall wooden curl—dubbed the Mantaray—that functions as a sheltered seating area and provides a dramatic vantage point to view the Manhattan skyline. “The Mantaray is a small public platform at the end of the pier—equally accessible above and below,” Ingels said in a statement. “Its namesake organic slopes and curves have been shaped by concerns for accessibility, safety, shelter, structure—like a manmade reef evolved to accommodate human life.”
The platform’s shape is intended to add to the vertical topography of the pier. “We tasked BIG with designing a pavilion-like structure that could provide shade and offer the ability to walk above,” Myer said. “This is a really unique moment at the end of Pier 6. The southern-most pier is very flat and has very different vantage points than the rest of the park.”
The 6,000-square-foot Mantaray will be fully ADA accessible and clad in timber slabs chosen to withstand the harsh waterfront elements and to create a sense of texture and color. Because of the structure’s weight, Myer said some additional structural support will be required to build the viewing platform.
No financing is in place for Ingels’ $8-million platform, but funding for the landscape—estimated between $13 and $15 million—is in hand. If funding for the platform cannot be found, Myer said a series of shade structures could be included in its place.