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Naval Cemetery
View of the meadow from the educational area and benches.

Entrance threshold from the street.

Site overview during construction.

The winding boardwalk.

The project creates public access to a 1.7 acre natural area within the boundary of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, at the grounds of a former cemetery.

The Brooklyn Naval Hospital Cemetery was active from 1831 to 1910 and was the burial site for more than 2,000 people, primarily officers and enlisted men. The Navy relocated the remains to Cypress Hills National Cemetery in 1926.  The site is rethought as an open space along the length of the Brooklyn Greenway featuring a wildflower meadow and sacred grove, framed by an undulating boardwalk and lifted above the hallowed ground.

An entrance gateway and attendant’s station acts as the threshold between the landscape and the street. The raised walking path provides access around the perimeter of the site and its large central meadow.  Two small seating areas for education and reflection are placed at opposite sides of the site.
The plantings of the meadow focus on establishing native plant fodder for the pollinators critical to ecological health of the region, including butterflies, honey bees, and other insects. Plants are selected for low height to retain visibility, vibrant color display during warm seasons and interesting seed pods or stem textures for winter interest.

Because of the sensitive condition of the grounds, all structures are designed and engineered with minimal impact upon the landscape. A series of steps and an accessible ramp lead up to the level of a gateway and raised, wooden walkway.  The walkway does not use heavy footings or foundations.  Instead, an array small, precast concrete piers is set onto the ground surface and secured with steel pins driven into the earth.
  The surfaces of the walkway and entrance gateway are constructed with black locust wood.

Scott Demel acted as director for the Naval Cemetery project at Marvel Architects, guiding the project through execution of the design construction.  Landscape architecture by Nelson Byrd Woltz.


American Society of Landscape Architects - New York, Merit Award, 2017

Steps leading to the landscape entrance.

The meadow from the circle.

Photography by Max Touhey and Daniel Byrne.

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