New York - Pier 2, Brooklyn Bridge Park

In an effort to foster an active lifestyle among a diverse population, NYC has been investing in the year-round programming of community parks. The Brooklyn Bridge Park, opened in 2010, is an 85-acre post-industrial space on the Brooklyn side of the East River.

Pier 2, one of six five-acre piers within the park, is dedicated to year-round active recreation. Protected from rain and snow by the roof of a former warehouse, visitors to the park can make uses of five fully accessible and covered basketball courts, fitness equipment, children’s play areas with seating for parents, handball and bocce courts, and shuffleboard. A roller rink, complete with live DJ, is equipped for in-line skating, roller derby, and roller hockey.

In addition to these activities, the park hosts winter walking tours, with subjects ranging from history to horticulture. Outdoor public BBQs, picnic tables and lounge areas are available year round, with a spectacular view of Brooklyn Bridge and downtown Manhattan.

The adaptive re-use of these old industrial buildings – and even just the presence of a canopy – makes all the difference here. Another example of something we might also consider in Vancouver.

Designing urban public spaces that invites a diverse group of people to spend time outdoors year round can improve inclusiveness, limit social isolation, and foster a greater sense of emotional and physical wellbeing through the benefits of active recreation.

With a little imagination, Vancouverites could reap the rewards of deliberately designed outdoor recreational spaces that shield from rain while offering engaging places for children to play, seniors to gather, and communities to come together.

Writing by Jada Stevens. Photo by Julienne Schaer