Paul Warchol

Just five years ago, the parcel of land on the Williamsburg waterfront in Brooklyn, N.Y., now known as the Bushwick Inlet Park, was a parking lot and the former home of a gas plant. Not only was it an urban eyesore, the completely impervious surface would send any amount of precipitation in one of two directions: either to the city’s already overburdened sewer system or, in bigger storms, gushing into the East River. As part of a comprehensive re-zoning in 2005, the New York City Department of City Planning allowed for higher densities in this part of northwest Brooklyn and the 6.2-acre waterfront parcel was set aside to become public open space. To carry that out that design, the New York City of Parks and Recreation turned to New York–based landscape architecture firm Starr Whitehouse and Kiss + Cathcart Architects.

Opened in October 2013, the park has quickly become a popular community space—an average of 1,000 people use the space each day, a number that will surely spike in the coming summer months. It’s roughly divided into three zones: At the water’s edge, tidal pools replace what had been a decaying bulkhead; in the center, a full-size soccer field provides recreational space; and, at the street-facing edge, the park heaves upward to form a sloping hill that doubles as a green roof for a building that houses both a New York City Park maintenance and operations facility and a community facility.

Everything in the design is doubly operative, linking recreation with ambitious environmental performance benchmarks. Because New York City uses combined sewer overflows, the architects were determined to manage stormwater in such a way that nothing from the site would ever enter the sewers. With this in mind, they included a 15,000-gallon cistern under the soccer field’s artificial turf that collects rainfall that is then used to irrigate the green roof. For the heavily trafficked lawn, ample irrigation was necessary, so the park’s water harvesting system will cover irrigation from rainwater (46 percent) and from the playground feature (54 percent). No potable water is used to maintain the site. In bouts of heavy rain, the tidal pools will filter water before draining into the river. 

The design brief had called for a 15,000-square-foot building to house a community center and space for maintenance, but because park space is an amenity in short supply, they tucked it under the park’s sloping hill. This green roof ensures that the building’s footprint does not eat away at green space, and by sheltering the building’s interior spaces from western exposure to sun and prevailing winds, it provides critical insulation. Elsewhere, glass curtainwalls let in the winter sun, while the roof’s overhang and an array of vertical wood louvers provide shade from the summer sun. Ninety-eight percent of interior space has views to the outdoors, and the architects estimate that artificial lights can be kept off for 89 percent of the time during daylight hours. The all-electric building is calculated to save 51 percent of energy compared to the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 baseline. A shade structure atop the green roof doubles as a photovoltaic array and generates 36 percent of the building’s electrical usage. 

Though the Parks Department had stipulated a LEED Silver rating, the park is positioned to be certified LEED Platinum. “The client really encouraged us to make the project better in every way,” says Kiss + Cathcart principal Gregory Kiss. “They were very receptive to ideas and took a long view of the project.”

Click here to see all of the 2014 AIA COTE Top Ten Green Projects. Scroll down for more images, along with performance data and project team and materials information. Stay tuned for profiles of this year's winning firms on, along with additional coverage of this year's Top Ten in the Spring issue of ECOBUILDING Review.

Malcolm Pinckney

Paul Warchol

Paul Warchol

Paul Warchol

Project completion date:
October 2013
Building gross floor area: 15,527 square feet
Estimated percent of occupants using public transit, cycling, or walking: 80
Daylighting at levels that allow lights to be off during daylight hours: 89
Lighting power density (watts per square foot): 1.17
Percent of views to the outdoors: 98
Percent of spaces within 15 feet of an operable window: 71
Percent reduction of regulated potable water: 47
Potable water used for irrigation: No
Percent of rainwater from maximum anticipated 24-hour, two-year storm event that can be managed on site: 80
Total EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 42
Net EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 27
Percent reduction from national median EUI for building type: 59
Third-party rating: LEED Platinum (certification pending)
Total project cost as time of completion (land excluded): $30 million

Architect: Kiss + Cathcart —Gregory Kiss, Clare Miflin, Jeff Miles, Heather McKinstry,
Landscape architects: Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners —Stephen Whitehouse, Jeffrey Poor, Rachel Bentley-Fufezan, Sarah Clark, Paul Appleton,
Client, owner: NYC Parks,
Mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers: A.G.Consulting Engineering —Gary Guleria,
Structural engineer: Robert Silman Associates —Scott Hughes, Sylvester Black,
Civil, geotechnical and environmental engineers: Langan Engineering & Environmental Services —Chris Vitolano, Michael Nilson, Gregory Biesiadecki, Erik Muller, Jason Hayes, Stuart Knoop, Tom Devaney, Vince Zakrzewski,
Lighting design: AWA Lighting Designers —Abhay Wadhwa,
Green roof consultants: Roofmeadow —Charlie Miller,
Site engineering: Wesler-Cohen Associates —Bill Ackerman, Ed Anderson, Mark Keptsi, Maryanne Papa,
LEED consultant (design): Community Environmental Center —Larsen Plano, Courtney Royal,
LEED consutant (construction): Taitem Engineering —Crista Shopis,
Energy modeling: Taitem Engineering —Umit Sirt 
Commissioning agent: Taitem Engineering —Lou Vogel
Rainwater harvest: Geosyntec Consultants —Phil Reidy,
Cost estimato r: Accu-Cost Construction Consultants —Frank Mennella,
Specifications: Construction Specifications —Aaron Pine,
Code expediter: Design 2147 —Sisto Martello,
Construction manager: URS Corporation —John Hartmann, Robert Roslewicz,
General contractor, phase 1: William A. Gross Construction Associates —Damien Ricci,
General contractor, phase 2: Perfetto Contracting Co. —Caesar Perfetto, Mikhail Zeygman,
HVAC contractor, phase 2: CDE Air Conditioning Co. —Joseph F. Azara, Jr., Douglas Moore,
Electrical contractor, phase 2: Dynamic Electric Systems —Fred Shufane, Barney Hedburg,
Plumbing contractor, phase 2: Lafata-Corallo Plumbing and Heating —Danielle Maglio,

Acoustical system:
Alternative energy systems: Sunpower,; Alt Power,
Carpet: Interface,
Ceilings: Armstrong
Cladding: Trespa,
Flooring: Roppe,; Scofield,; TQ.
Glass: PPG.
HVAC: Carrier; Cook
Insulation: Monoglass,
Below slab insulation: Poly Molding Corp.,
Lighting control systems: Hubbell,
Lighting: Neoray; Philips; Y lighting; Vantage; Kreon; HK Lighting; Windirect; GE Lumination; Metalux; Light Edge; Erco; Winona; Aldabra
Masonry, concrete and stone: Belden Tri-State Building Materials,; Aercon,
Metal: American Rail,
Paints and finishes: Benjamin Moore,
Pavers: SF Rima
Plumbing and water systems: Containment Solutions
Green roof: TQ 3,; Sponzilli Landscape Group,
Site and landscape products: Weisz + Yoes; Soheil Mosun,
Structural systems: Wood Construction Systems,
Windows and doors: Nanawall,; Efco Windows,
Playground equipment: Game Time,
Grille work and gates: Barnett Bates,
Sunshades: Construction Specialties,
Synthetic turf: Domo Sports Grass, 

Data provided by AIA and Kiss + Cathcart, Architects.