Critics of the plan say the towers are too tall, take up too much green space, and that an influx of new residents will burden the neighborhood’s schools. They want the park to complete another environmental review before the project moves forward. Some residents, in what is one of the country’s most liberal enclaves, have also opposed the inclusion of affordable units. They have been vocal about their support for affordable housing in general, but say that the park is not the place for it, partly because it could undermine the financial model. At the August meeting, however, opponents to the plan focused their objection on the height of the towers.
The strong reaction to the RFP did not come as a surprise to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. “There has been a larger discussion about the funding model for the park that has been going on for 10–15 years,” David Lowin, the park’s vice president of real estate, told AN a few days after the meeting. “And there has been a group of folks who have always taken issue with the idea of having housing sites that helped with the maintenance and operations because they felt it would have a negative impact on the park.”
A number of prominent architecture firms—including Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Asymptote, H3 Hardy Collective, Morris Adjmi, Marvel Architects, FXFOWLE, Pelli Clarke Pelli, BKSK, and Selldorf Architects—responded to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation RFP for Pier 6. The proposals are mostly boxy, glass towers with fairly restrained design gestures. Collectively, the buildings seem more characteristic of South Florida than the Brooklyn waterfront. BIG’s proposal has vertical concrete columns that open like curtains over the buildings’ entrances. Future Expansion + SBN Architects put forth textured glass towers that are carved away at steep, diagonal grades. NV/da + O’Neill McVoy Architects presented deep, landscaped terraces to separate the taller tower into distinct masses. Morris Adjmi submitted a more industrial approach with two glass and steel structures, the taller of which is topped by water towers.
The proposals were hardly mentioned at the meeting, save for one local resident who said that all she saw was “an awful lot of glass.” After about two hours of public testimony, the board voted 10–3 not to revisit the 2006 plan, with one voting member calling that idea “radical.” The board said it will further review the environmental impact of the development.
In September, the 14 designs will be brought before the park’s Community Advisory Council, which will create a public feedback process. The feedback will then be given to the board’s design subcommittee, which includes representatives from the Department of Design and Construction, City Planning, and the Public Design Commission. By the end of the year there should be a final proposal before the board.