Along the Gowanus Canal, dlandstudio’s Sponge Park will soon be ready to soak up polluted water

City Terrain East Environment Landscape Architecture News Sustainability
Rendering of Gowanus Canal Sponge Park (Courtesy dlandstudio)

Rendering of Gowanus Canal Sponge Park (Courtesy dlandstudio)

You won’t be able to drink from it anytime soon, but the fetid, toxic shores of the Gowanus Canal will soon be graced with a new park that filters stormwater as it enters the canal. Designed by Brooklyn’s dlandstudio in partnership with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, the Gowanus Canal Sponge Park will be an 18,000 square foot public space on city-owned land, where Second Street meets the canal.

Site of planned Sponge Park in Gowanus (Google Maps)

Site of planned Sponge Park in Gowanus (Google Maps)

Due to the canal’s Superfund status, multiple federal, state, and city agencies are involved in environmental remediation, on and offshore (see diagram below). The $1.5 million project is publicly and privately funded: New York-based Lightstone Group will bankroll a boat launch for the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club. The developers are planning a 700 unit residential high rise adjacent to the park.

Section diagram of the park (Courtesy dlandstudio)

Section diagram of the Sponge Park (Courtesy dlandstudio)

Initiated in 2008, the project stalled for seven years as funding was secured. dlandstudio chose plants for their ability to filter out biological toxins from sewage, heavy metals, and other pollutants that overwhelm the canal, especially when it rains. Floating wetlands adjacent to shore will filter runoff further. Due to the canal’s Superfund status, multiple federal, state, and city agencies are involved in environmental remediation, on and offshore (see diagram above).

The first phase of the park is expected to open early 2016. State and local officials plan for the Sponge Park to be part of a network of green space that will mitigate flood risk while cleaning incoming stormwater.

Gowanus Canal Sponge Park (Courtesy dlandstudio)

Bird’s-eye view of green spaces on and near the Gowanus Canal (Courtesy dlandstudio)

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