The Brooklyn Bridge-Montgomery Coastal Resilience (BMCR) project is a critical component of the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project in New York, NY. The core mission of the project identified community-driven strategies to provide integrated flood risk reduction with additional public benefits in the Two Bridges neighborhood in New York City. Through a comprehensive approach to engineering and placemaking design, the project provides creative coastal resilience solutions for sea level rise and climate change challenges facing the community. As one of the first major coastal resiliency projects in New York City, BMCR necessitated an education-based community engagement program. To build trust and enable the community to provide meaningful feedback on the flood protection system, residents needed to understand the future flood risks, technical requirements and site constraints that drove decision-making. The BMCR team designed hands-on, interactive activities and models to make technical concepts tangible to the community. Through design workshops, the community learned about and provided input on types of flood infrastructure and tradeoffs between project alternatives. During COVID-19, the team delivered “information stations” with multilingual project pamphlets and posters to local housing developments, shared updates via a multilingual social media campaign, and designed innovative 360-degree virtual reality animations for community members to “visit” the site and experience the future design from the safety of their homes. Community members were adamant about the need for flood protection, but wary of interventions that would further restrict their waterfront. Innovative technical solutions were identified to address the multitude of complicated subsurface and overhead site constraints along the length of the project’s alignment. The BMCR project design team worked with engineering experts to innovate a system of interlocking flip-up gates that lay flat during non-storm conditions, creating a fully integrated infrastructure system in an accessible public realm and that could prioritize placemaking strategies within the waterfront for the community. Flip-up gates will be constructed on top of a raised sill that creates a passive layer of protection against future sea level rise and associated nuisance flooding. The design team prioritized a multi-purpose design approach with the development of an infrastructure and public benefit toolkit that could be implemented along the alignment to respond to localized site conditions and community input. A network of steps and ramps provides accessible routes to the waterfront, while the width of the sill expands and contracts along the project alignment to accommodate community guided public program and amenities for both active and passive public space uses as well as places for residents of all ages and backgrounds along the waterfront. By continuously incorporating community feedback, integrating resilience infrastructure into the public realm, and prioritizing equity and accessibility, the BMCR project will protect the Two Bridges neighborhood from future flood risks, and provide a positive lasting impact on the physical, mental, and social health and well-being of the community.


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