Architect Daniel Gillen Reimagines Brooklyn Bridge as “Living Infrastructure”

The architect’s parasitic megastructure contains housing and a hotel, as well as cultural, retail and public programming functions.

Nathan Bahadursingh Nathan Bahadursingh

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Looking to transform one of the world’s most iconic structures, architect Daniel Gillen has submitted an ambitious proposal to the Van Alen Institute’s Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge Competition. Titled the “Brooklyn Bluff”, the project envisions a new borough floating above the East River.

The project’s organic form was inspired by natural landform features found at water body edges. The design seeks to enhance public connection to nature and foster a new perspective on adaptive reuse projects. 

“Brooklyn Bluff” was developed to provide an ongoing flexibility and functionality to both it and the bridge as a whole. This “living infrastructure” contains housing and a hotel, as well as cultural, retail and public programming functions.

According to the project description, “Through economizing the structure with an inhabitable program, a symbiotic relationship between revenue income and bridge maintenance costs are achieved, ensuring longevity in functionality for the future.”

In order to respect the original structure, the proposed architectural addition creates a clear and legible distinction between contemporary and historic. As a result, the strength and utility of the Brooklyn Bridge is preserved and balanced with a progressive approach to architecture.

“Brooklyn Bluff” evaluates a multitude of factors, including social conditions, fiscal longevity and safety. A large public park in the development will balance the private economic incentives for the site.

As stated by project designer, Daniel Gillen: “The topic of sustainability cannot be limited to environmental and social considerations alone, but could aim to recalibrate private profits towards the financial sustainability of public systems.” 

“Brooklyn Bluff” aims to encourage the public to acknowledge that the future is both literally and figuratively “supported” by the past. It seeks to be as bold and ambitious as the original Brooklyn Bridge in order to compliment New York City and Brooklyn. The project leverages the original structure by embracing the pier, while the cable structure supports the cantilevered span. One element is thus grounded in history while the other is reaching towards the future.

“Humanity is clearly needing more from our cities and public spaces. An equitable system that prioritizes the needs of the many over the few. Architecture has a responsibility to facilitate this action,” said Daniel Gillen.

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All images via DGillenDesign

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