The Naval Cemetery Landscape creates an experience of landscape and planted form offering retreat, remembrance, and engaged observation while honoring a layered, 200 year history. The site, an unmarked burial ground from the late 19th and early 20th centuries at the Brooklyn Navy Yard complex is now the first open space node along the Brooklyn Greenway. A memorial meadow and sacred grove are framed by an undulating boardwalk lifted above the undisturbed ground - the oxbow-like boardwalks float over the sea of dense grasses and forbs. The plantings of the memorial meadow focus on establishment of much needed native plant fodder for the many forgotten pollinators critical to ecological health of the region, including butterflies, native and honey bees, and pollinator moths.
Initially planted in a strict geometric pattern and reinforced by frames, the plantings will eventually drift across the site, creating new patterns and establishing a self-sustaining, ‘open-ended’ ecology. The remembrance frames - steel cable sculptural pieces that outline the original geometric blocks of plants – will remain in place as a datum that records the dynamic movement of the plant communities over time and becomes a physical form of remembrance.
Striking in its simplicity, the Naval Cemetery Landscape provides an important place of peace, refuge, and quiet – a rich ecological oasis in the built environment. This understated landscape in Brooklyn quietly engages the site's history and place for the benefit of its inhabitants. The new park acts as a community builder as host to neighborhood activity like yoga, meditation, and ecology classes. It engages the public in the importance of pollinator habitat in the urban environment, symbolically attracting many forms of life to a place that has historically commemorated death. The landscape explores its ecological potential by offering a stark contrast to its densely engineered urban context.