Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge to be Made of Wood

The pedestrian bridge connecting Squibb Park, at the foot of Columbia Heights, to Brooklyn Bridge Park, expected to be completed by summer of 2012, will have an innovative design by MacArthur Genius Award winning engineer Ted Zoli, using timber as the principal material.

Popular Mechanics: Supported by poured-concrete pillars and suspended by steel cables, the primary construction material will be 6- and 10-inch-diameter pieces of Robinia pseudoacacia, or black locust, a tree found widely in the Southeast but also prevalent in forests of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Black locust is extremely rot-resistant, durable and sustainable, Zoli says. The rough-sawn decking and wooden structural posts will have a natural finish that changes color and even warps slightly with exposure to the elements, a desired effect.

According to the Popular Mechanics article, the bridge will “zigzag gracefully through a clutch of tall oaks, between buildings and over a street, descending 30 feet in elevation from its starting point to its endpoint in Brooklyn Bridge Park.”

Image: Popular Mechanics

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  • Anders

    Made of wood? What would the other options be in this era of convenience?

  • Anders

    What wood the other options be? Had to.

  • nelson

    My that’s quite unattractive!

  • harumph

    U.G.L.Y what is their alibi?

  • Michael

    Hope it’s tall enough for those double decker tour buses to pass under…..

  • Wrennie

    “Innovative design”??–it looks like something Indiana Jones would have used.

  • nabeguy

    Turn it upside down and you’ve got yourself a bridge. Reinds me of the Erector set I had as a kid.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    Wrennie: you don’t think Indy was innovative?

  • AmyinBH

    “warps slightly with exposure to the elements” Maybe it is just my fear of heights, but this scares me just a little.

  • JoeyJoralemon

    Is there a point or purpose to Squibb Park?

    And say hello to an increase in crime once the park and bridge are completed.

  • PierrepontSkin

    @Claude, I think the Indiana Jones reference was about the rope bridge in “…Temple of Doom”.

    @JoeyJoralemon, I was just thinking the same thing (crime increase).

    And when did Robinson Crusoe start building in the Heights?

  • Jeffrey J Smith

    Amazing…this is an age of ugly. This is a kind of solidified anti culture

  • resident

    I wish someone would articulate why a completed park and, especially, a completed bridge is going to result in more crime.

  • stuart little

    I would feel safer if the truss were above the walkway and not beneath it where it could be hit by a tall vehicle.

  • Demonter

    Criminals prefer completed areas to vacant lots, construction sites and abandoned buildings…just examine the stats. No joke or sarcasm intended.

  • ABC

    How much?

    .. and I wonder how Black Locust responds to the solvents that we use to get rid of graffiti around these parts. Or will that just become part of the look?

    (did they ever get the money back for those innovative — and lawsuit inducing — heat domes?)

  • cobblebobble

    Regardless of the design it’s hard to see the need for a bridge from Squibb Park since it’s so close to the park entrance at Pier 1. The next entrance to the south is all the way down at Joralemon St so a bridge from the middle of the promenade would make more sense (although presumably much more difficult since it would have to clear the BQE cantilever). Or even better, save the money on building and maintaining the bridge and put less housing in the park!

  • stuart little

    If you notice, the truss is at its lowest point right above Furman Street. That is not rational. A bridge is supposed to arch over a street not down into it. They will need to adjust the design I’m sure.
    Also, if the truss is made of wood, it is probably attractive to look at so why not have it above the walkway where it can be appreciated by pedestrians?

  • resident

    Really Demonter? You’re going to have to provide some sources for me to believe that, as it flies in the face of every argument of environmental factors on criminal behavior I’ve ever heard. I mean, you really want me to believe that criminals would prefer a vibrant park on all five piers as opposed to the wasteland that currently lies between piers 1 and 6? Criminals would prefer completed projects at 20 henry street and the building on Clark to the dimly lit scaffolding that resides there now?

  • Demonter

    Criminals go where potential victims are. Read last weeks Police Blotter…how many crimes occurred in construction sites, vacant lots or derelict structures? Common sense….

  • resident

    Wow, amazing analysis Demonter. So, even agreeing that there will be more crime on a bridge that doesn’t exist once it’s actually built. How does this mean more crime in the overall area? New York isn’t exactly lacking in places where criminals can spot potential victims. a How does a completed park and a bridge make the neighborhood more criminal friendly?

    Also, you ignore the benefits of having more people around. More people on the streets = more witnesses = less potential victims. Criminals that aren’t taking advantage of a situation (like someone leaving a bag unattended on a counter) want few witnesses and a quick route to where people couldn’t have witnessed the crime. For instance, subway entrances, which you see a lot in police blotters, criminals move from one level to another where there are no witnesses and then can disappear. None of these factors are present with a well designed bridge and completed park.

  • Guest

    I might be wrong but the illustration does not show the bridge connected to Squibb Park which is the area enclosed by the chain link fence in the upper right hand corner. I suspect that this simple illustration of the bridge laid over a stock out-of-date illustration (note the since removed Cold Storage Warehouse) and is not intended to show final placement of the bridge

  • Demonter


    More people= more crime. You disagree. Time will tell.

  • http://www.popularmechanics.com Joe Bargmann

    I reported and wrote the story. I’m disappointed by the response I’m reading here. Squibb Park had become derelict. It is very close to a public school with precious little outdoor space. The bridge–“innovative” and “elegant,” in my opinion, which is what informed my writing of the story–is an excellent solution to the problem of lack of access from the Promenade level (not the Promenade itself, for building directly from the Promenade to BBP is prohibited). There had been another bridge proposed to create the same connection, but it was more like something one would find in Central Park. We have entered a new era of urban park design and construction, and I think BBP and this bridge are quite beautiful and practical. I don’t hand out the MacArthur awards, but I do think that Ted Zoli is a brilliant person. I confess some naivete to the tendency of blog responses to be negative, shallow and sniping. Yes, I wish we could have included more photos and illustrations of the bridge to give readers a better sense of the design, placement and construction of the footbridge. In the future, other print/web news stories may include such photos/diagrams. I understand, seeing is believing. I was lucky enough to be able to visit the site with the BBP designers and to talk at length with Ted Zoli. Have a little faith, that’s all I can say. The people working on Brooklyn Bridge Park are the best in the business, and their work is revitalizing a piece of land that has been fallow and sadly neglected for many years. Take a walk down there. Look at the NY skyline, New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and the spot where the Squibb Park Bridge will eventually exist. Even if you don’t share the vision, you can enjoy the sights.

  • bornhere

    I can only guess how the critiques here affect Joe and the people involved in this project. But, aside from the fact that I don’t see any aesthetic appeal in the proposed design (and this is without the added element of poured concrete pillars), I have to agree with cobblebobble that, by the time you wend your way down the hill to the the playground (or whatever it is now) and then across the bridge, you probably could have gotten to your destination faster by just walking the rest of the way down Columbia Heights and crossing Furman. Does this also mean that Squibb will be open until 1 AM to coincide with Brooklyn Bridge Park’s hours??

  • Andrew Porter

    I was at the far northwest edge of Squibb Park a few weeks ago and actually took a close look at the area behind the Witness building to the immediate north. There are several small terraces with plantings in them in which JWs can sit and watch the sunset. There is also a lower level which is apparently impossible to safely get to, judging from the number of recreational balls of varying ages which have gone over the fence from the playground.

    There is also a JW parking lot immediately below this area, which opens onto Furman Street. It was fascinating, because although I’ve lived here for decades, this is a slice of BH which is basically totally hidden from view from any street.

  • Eddy de Lectron

    @ stuart little, “A bridge is supposed to arch over a street not down into it” Not true, the arched truss is just as strong either up or down. Inverted arch trusses are common in bridge design. Typically they are used in approaches to the main span of a bridge or bridges where maximum ground clearance is not a concern. The design offers some advantages, lower cost (easier to build) and lower center of gravity (easier to stabilize). I think the mocked-up photo is misleading, the bridge appears closer to the street than it will actually be. I like the design, I don’t think one should rush to judgment based on one crappy faux-photo.

  • epc

    As far as why build a bridge, the intersection at Furman & Fulton can be a nightmare for pedestrians at rush hour when all of Staten Island and Bay Ridge use Furman as a bypass for the BQE.

    I assume the bridge will be ADA compliant? It can’t be all that much fun to take a wheelchair down Columbia Heights.

  • frenchbull

    totally agree about Furman getting very busy at certain times-looks like a great idea to me-maybe I need to become more skeptical or negative but what is all the controversy here?
    it’s just another pleasant way to get over to the wonderful new parks-

  • harumph

    IMO no controversy and @ Joe B. I really think this blog is a great place to question, with a critical eye, all that goes on in our nabe, good and bad. I think the design of this bridge is ugly – that doesn’t mean I dislike the architect nor does it mean I hate all Brooklyn Bridge Park designs. I also agree with the assessment that the bridge connecting Squibb park is really NOT necessary. Look, BBP has made phenomenal parks and plans to increase the usefulness and beauty of that area – but they have made errors (heated chrome domes in a preschool playground) and sometimes a blog like this can help give helpful suggestions or have an architect rethink a project.