Gowanus has a rich history. Originally a large, marshy wetland, the area is the site of early Dutch settlement, important Revolutionary War battles, and commercial industrial activity stretching back over 100 years. Now an EPA Superfund site, planners and real estate developers envision the area to be a locus of large residential development—a controversial proposal in light of the area's overburdened infrastructure and highly-contamined environment. In this context, and working closely with local community organizations, government agencies, and elected officials, DLANDstudio initiated and designed a new kind of public open space called Sponge Park. The Sponge Park design grants equal value to the aesthetic, programmatic, and productive importance of treating contaminated water entering the Gowanus Canal. The Gowanus receives many millions of gallons of combined sewage every year. The park is designed as a working landscape that improves the health of the canal over time. This innovative plan proposes strategies to divert stormwater run-off for use in the public park along the canal, reducing the input of stormwater into the sewer system. The Sponge Park Pilot, completed in 2016, manages nearly 2,000,000 gallons of stormwater per annum. 


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