Stone rip rap. Photo: Julienne Schaer.

Path Location: 1

Soft Edge

Issues such as climate change and rising sea levels were integral factors guiding the design of Brooklyn Bridge Park, which spans almost 1.5 miles along the East River. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., the park’s landscape architect, designed the park to be self-sustaining and to be able to withstand the impact of floods and storms.

Designing the Shoreline

Careful thought was given to shoreline conditions and site location during the design process and to the selection and construction of the park’s topography, soil types, vegetation, and edge design.

Soft edges protect the park from the impact of waves, tidal fluctuations, and surges. Rip rap (boulders and stones of various sizes) buffers the shoreline from the violent wave action produced by storms. These rocky edges are more durable than vertical bulkhead walls because they absorb wave energy rather than repel it. During park construction, many original relieving platforms were removed and replaced with the more durable rip rap. Once complete, Brooklyn Bridge Park will contain roughly four thousand linear feet of stabilized rip rap edge.

The park’s soft edges are an integral part of the design and landscape of Brooklyn Bridge Park. The salt marsh at the southern edge of Pier 1 was built to mimic a naturally occurring shoreline marsh. Planted with smooth cordgrass, it provides a visual tidal indicator for park visitors and acts as a habitat for diverse plants, birds, and marine life.