RIPARIAN BUFFERS ALONG THE BROOKLYN WATERFRONT

Maria Aiolova and Mitchell Joachim

How can we protect the Brooklyn waterfront from the threat of future storms and rising sea levels? We propose that the City investigate the adaptive reuse of former military vessels to create a riparian buffer zone that confronts the issues of storm surge and flood management in the New York Harbor. 

Our concept is to recycle ghost fleets or vessels from the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) and United States Navy. The vessels could be cut apart, cleaned, and used as riparian buffer zones to absorb large charges or surges in flooding areas. We could then combine natural sedimentation with the recycled ship parts to restore the natural water edge and slow down the watercourse. This aqueous zone would allow for a programmatic mix — recreational opportunities paired with natural stormwater retention. 

As we reimagine the waterfront, we need to design infrastructure that lets the water in, rather than keeps it out. New York does not need to defend against water but instead share its presence with the existing estuary.  

Maria Aiolova and Mitchell Joachim are Co-Presidents of Terreform ONE [Open Network Technology], a non-profit design group that promotes green design in cities. Aiolova presently chairs the ONE Lab NY School for Design and Science. Mitchell is also Associate Professor at New York University.

Images: Terreform ONE.