Gowanus Salt Lot Public Park
Loci’s Principal, David Briggs, is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Gowanus by Design, a non-profit advocating for sustainable urban strategies around the Gowanus Canal Superfund site. With the support of the Loci team and fellow architects Paul Coughlin, Jennifer Leone, and Ken Miraski, GbD released a proposal for a new public park on the canal. There are three buildings wrapped in materials that reference the industrial history of the canal. The retention tank/headhouse and composting facility/greenhouse are clad in the same corrugated sheet steel that borders the edge of the waterway. They flank the Gowanus Field Station, a community center finished with deep timber boards, reminiscent of the materials once brought in by barge to build brownstone Brooklyn. The boards are cut away to frame openings and create a sense of lightness and transparency when entering the site from Second Avenue. As a visitor moves around the building, the perception of the boards shifts from a screen to an opaque surface. The design of the taller section of the headhouse proposes alternating vertical bands of curved translucent glass and terra cotta louvers, creating a pattern reminiscent of the coal storage bins that were demolished nearby a few years ago. Each building has a green roof and the entire west side of the lot will be developed as a public park, landscaped with sloping hills and wetlands that offer novel views to the canal and the neighborhood. GbD’s conceptual proposal is intended to spark a conversation on how the canal’s new infrastructure can support much needed public urban space.