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Brooklyn Naval Landscape

Public Boardwalk and Landscape at the Brooklyn Navy Yards 2014

Marvel Architects and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

Located in the southeast corner of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Naval Hospital Cemetery site is a 1.7-acre lot along Kent Avenue, near Williamsburg Street West. It was active from 1834 to 1910, during which over 2,000 Marines and Navy men were laid to rest there. Around 1926, their bodies were moved to Cypress Hills.

The Navy Yard eventually converted the area into baseball fields until one day, more remains were discovered. The Navy Yard removed the ball fields and allowed the site to grow wild. Today, it is a small field of overgrown grasses, trees, flowers and weeds.

The client (Brooklyn Greenway Initiative), which is working to create 14 miles of waterfront bike paths to connect Greenpoint to Bay Ridge, hired Marvel Architects and Nelson Byrd Woltz to transform the site into an public greenspace. The design incorporates a meadow landscape of many native plants and a wooden boardwalk around the perimeter. The site is unique because no ground disturbance is permitted; it’s still considered a sacred resting place. In response, the native flowers require no tilling to plant the boardwalk lightly touches the ground as it meanders through the meadow grasses.