Brian Haulter

Brian Haulter

Cambridge, MA, US


The City of Gowanus

The Gowanus Canal, in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, is one of the most polluted waterways in the United States.  This project approaches the redevelopment of the area with a focus placed on not only the remediation of the canal, but also with sensitivity to the preservation of the rich industrial history of the Gowanus and its neighbors.  

The existing fabric of Red Hook was evaluated based upon its importance (both culturally and aesthetically), with run-down and abandoned structures or plots being redeveloped in early phases, those with high tenant turnover rates or in obvious need of repair being redeveloped in the later phases, and structures that have been declared as historical landmarks or as important to the neighborhood being preserved and influencing the coding of the new development.  

A major cause for the pollution of the canal is the direct runoff it receives from the surrounding streets.  This not only causes all manner of pollutants from cars and litter to pour directly into the waterway, but without any mitigation of  stormwater runoff, even mildly heavy rains can cause flooding of the Gowanus neighborhood.  Our solution was to dedicate a large portion of the redeveloped land to “rain parks”.  These are areas of lower elevation that are intentionally flooded during times of heavy rains, but programmable as parks, plazas, parking lots, amphitheaters, etc. for most of the year.  

The addition of an elevated pedestrian pathway allows for a secondary ground level, especially convenient during those times of heavy rain, and provides an infrastructure for a system of drainage between buildings and rain parks.  

The maximum building envelopes of the new development have been shaped to provide for optimal evaporation within the rain parks, as well as to follow the city’s preexisting light and air requirements.

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Status: School Project
Location: Brooklyn, NY, US
My Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Lauren Bordes - co-designer
Gillian Chang - co-designer
Christopher Esper - co-designer