Naval Cemetery Memorial Landscape

Naval Cemetery Memorial Landscape

Naval Cemetery Memorial Landscape

The Brooklyn Naval Cemetery Landscape is 1.7-acre publicly accessible landscape. Formerly a military burial site, the location now serves as a point of respite and reflection along the length of a fourteen mile waterfront greenway in Brooklyn, with entry from Williamsburg Street West, between Flushing and Kent Avenues


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As a part of the Navy Yard, the site had been largely off-limits and out-of-sight to the public since its use as a cemetery was decommissioned in the 1920’s. After the renovation, the natural grove has now become the perfect setting for art exhibits, educational programs, and group activities, establishing links between the local residents, youth and visitors and reacquainting them with the significance of the site. ©Max Touhey
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The landscape serves as a node or moment of pause along the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. Entry steps rise from the street and through the entrance threshold to the raised boardwalk. ©Max Touhey
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Seating Area
This gateway building contains a small seating area and a gardener’s support space. ©Max Touhey
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Black locust wood
Instead of heavy footings or foundations, it is made with an array of small, precast concrete piers that are set onto the ground surface and secured with steel pins driven into the earth. The surfaces of the walkway and of the entrance gateway are finished with black locust wood. ©Max Touhey
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The design features a wildflower meadow and sacred grove lifted above the hallowed ground of the former cemetery, accessed by an undulating boardwalk. ©Max Touhey
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Stone blocks recall ship moorings and invite playful access across the grove. Photo courtesy Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects.
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A bench at the edge of the grove provides a moment for reflection. ©Max Touhey
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Education and Reflection
A public notebook is available for individuals to leave their thoughts or sketches in a quiet place for contemplation. ©Daniel Byrne
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The notebook beneath the bench. ©Daniel Byrne
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A sketch of the landscape from the notebook. Photo courtesy Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects.
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In order to respect the solemn history of the site, the elevated boardwalk maintains a separation from the plantings and the former cemetery site. It is meant to encourage calmness and contemplation with its undulating shape. ©Max Touhey
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Rendered Plan
Plants are selected for low height to retain visibility, vibrant color display during warm seasons and interesting seed pods or stem textures for winter interest. Plan courtesy of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects.
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Boardwalk Entrance
The entrance gateway faces onto Williamsburg Street West, acting as the threshold between the hard urban streetscape and the soft natural landscape. The stairs and arch-way signify the transition through elevation change and material change; from a depressed concrete sidewalk to an elevated wood deck.
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Boardwalk
©Max Touhey
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The Meadow
“We were looking to do these spaces across the United States to make sure we could properly research the effect of nature on humans. We had 126 organizations ask us to do this, we selected six and one of them was here… People are going to wander here; these wonderful walkways invite people to wander. And they respect the fact that this was once a cemetery and the people who served our country were here at one point. It is a sacred place.” - Tom Stoner, Co-Founder of the TKF Foundation “We want this site to be a place where you could step out of the city for 15 or 20 minutes and get rid of the city’s effects on your body, your nervous system, and allow your nervous system to adjust.” -Milton Puryear, Co-Founder of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative
Year
2016
Location
Brooklyn, New York
Client
Brooklyn Greenway Initiative
Typology
Public Space, Park /Recreation
Size
1.7 acres SF
Design Team
Scott Demel, Zachary Cohen, Zhan Chen, Vince Lee
Consultants
• Nelson Byrd Woltz, Landscape Architecture • Jim Conti, Lighting Design • Grant Engineering, Structural • Kelco Construction, Contractor
Awards
Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award, AIA Brooklyn-Queens Design Excellence Award, ASLA New York Design Award, Architect’s Newspaper | Best of Design Awards, Honorable Mention for Public Landscape
Photography Credits
Daniel Byrne, Max Touhey
Rendering Credits
Nelson Byrd Woltz
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