Brooklyn’s Belt Parkway acts as a paradigmatic 20th century mobility infrastructure and one of the most significant urban interventions along Brooklyn’s southwestern edge. Conceived of by Robet Moses as a critical link in his larger metropolitan parkway network, the Belt Parkway — constructed between 1939 and 1941 — follows roughly 35 miles of Brooklyn’s western shore edge from Owl’s Head to Whitestone. Functioning as a hybrid corridor, the Parkway integrated vehicular circulation, pedestrian and bike paths, parks and other civic amenities within a singular urban structure. Through this overlay of urban systems, the project was one of the first to frame the urban as a landscape — providing New Yorkers with the opportunity to experience the picturesque qualities of their city from an urban edge, primarily through the lens of the private vehicle.
Today, as New York City at large, continues to renew the city’s relation to the water, the time is right to rethink the role of the “Parkway” in the city and conceptualize a more updated set of relationships between the water’s edge, mobility infrastructures and the city at large.
Our site locates on Coney Island, the south end of Brooklyn. It has great mobility, about 30-min of car-ride to the airports in this region. Unlike Manhattan’s vertical urban image, Brooklyn has a feature of great horizontality. Brooklyn was an independent city until 1898, with a distinct culture, independent art scene, and unique architectural heritage. The figuration of Brooklyn is highly influenced by topography. Our site is one of the 7 big open spaces with an area of 55 hectares’, one fourth of the area of Prospect Park. Most open space had already become parks and cemeteries while our site is the last big vacant land that is available for development in Brooklyn.