Brooklyn Bridge Park breaks ground on Community Center

September 24, 2014 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Kara Gilmour, Justin Skeels, Councilmember Steve Levin, Steve Cassell, Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer, Executive Director of Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy Nancy Webster, state Sen. Daniel Squadron, Kai D. Feder, Pat Kirshner and Keith Ward take part in the groundbreaking for Brooklyn Bridge Park’s new community and environmental education building.
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Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) will soon have its very own community building.  “I consider this a turning-point milestone for Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said Regina Myer, BBP president, as she joined community leaders and politicians Tuesday at a groundbreaking ceremony that began the renovation of a former New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) building located under the Manhattan Bridge on Plymouth Street in DUMBO. By next summer, the building will be transformed into an environmental education and community center.

“We are taking a building that had a utilitarian use and giving it to the community,” said Myer. “This will become an important face on Plymouth Street that ties Brooklyn Bridge Park into the community.”

Members of the general contractor Stalco Construction and architect firm Architecture Research Office (ARO), as well as Councilmember Steve Levin and state Sen. Daniel Squadron, were also on hand for the ceremonial groundbreaking.

Renovations on the building are expected to cost $3.6 million and are on schedule to be finished by the summer of 2015. When completed, the space will be 10,650 square-feet, with the community room taking up 300 square-feet, 800 square-feet designated for the environmental education programs, and the rest going toward maintenance space, a kitchen, two public bathrooms, a locker room and a basement storage area.

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“Today, we are announcing the very first permanent location for Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s environmental education programs,” Levin said. “This is an exciting expansion for Brooklyn Bridge Park. This will provide indoor space for kids to learn about the waterfront at this magical place under the bridge with a majestic view.”

“This is a physical monument on what can happen when you engage the community,” said Sqadron. “It’s really exciting standing here because it takes a long time to do something right, but it’s great when you do.”

Nancy Webster, the executive director at Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, highlighted the fact that the building will serve as a classroom, pointing out that more than 8,000 students a year are expected to have an opportunity to learn in the building. She added that it will house a 600-gallon “touch” water tank so students can interact with marine animals.

“The Conservancy helps to make the Brooklyn Bridge Park a living classroom,” Webster said.

The building is located at 99 Plymouth St. at the corner of Washington Street. The project includes demolition of a portion of the main, one-story building that was formerly a NYCDEP building, as well as two smaller buildings next to it. The new building will actually be smaller than the pre-existing one, maximizing the views of the East River, the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.

The community center will feature a glass curtain wall on two sides and will make use of the existing exterior brick walls. A portion of the wall will be constructed with soundproof glass. When completed, the building’s exterior and interior will reflect the grey and blue tones that make up Brooklyn Bridge Park’s logo.  

“Brooklyn Bridge Park is a modern urban marvel, both in design and in creative use of our waterfront,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said in a statement. “I’m pleased to see progress move forward on this next phase that will advance the educational and community-building aspects of the park.”

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