Created by Tony Cruz:
Author Archives: Robin
We have been so far been considering the past. The Brooklyn waterfront, which was so radically altered by changes in shipping technology, is facing, like all coastal cities, the effects of global warming. Certainly, all of the architects in the Rising Tides exhibit at MOMA are in tune with Betsy McCully’s suggestion that soft solutions to storm surge and flooding will be more effective than hard ones. Two of the architectural teams designing for the exhibit developed ideas for sites on the Brooklyn waterfront: New Aqueous City and Oyster-Tecture. Can you imagine a future where either one of these visions might become a reality? Oyster-Tecture points back to the past of the Gowanus. While this project couldn’t ever be a restoration, could it be considered a monument to a long-gone ecology?
Home to manufactured gas plants, shipyards, lead smelting and chemical works, rail and trolley powerhouses and oil refineries, the Brooklyn industrial waterfront suffered all the ill effects of industrial pollution. On top of which, as McCully points out in City at the Water’s Edge, by 1929 a billion gallons of raw sewage a day was being dumped into the waters of New York harbor. While a legacy remains of toxic ground and water, the Brooklyn waterfront is now cleaner than it was in the early part of the 20th century. And yet as our understanding of the major effects of human behavior on the environment has grown to include not only the direct effects of industrial pollution but also climate change, is it even useful to think of environmental issues in terms of polluted vs. clean or pristine?