2021 Merit Award
Betsy Head Park
Abel Bainnson Butz, LLP
Prime Consultant/ Landscape Architect: Abel Bainnson Butz, LLP Architect: LI/Saltzman
Architects, PC Civil & Structural Engineering: Gedeon GRC MEP Engineering: DVL
Consulting Engineers, Inc. Environmental Engineering: Fleming-Lee Shue, Inc. Skate Park
Design: Spohn Ranch Geotechnical Engineering: Oweis Engineering, Inc. Surveyor: Munoz
Engineering, P.C. MEP Engineering (North Parcel Only): JFK&M Consulting Group
Photographer: Pavel Bendov
About the Project:
This multi-phase project re-imagines two diagonally located, non-contiguous parcels that constitute
Brownsville’s biggest park to create a cohesive, inclusive, and multi-generational green space. The site
design for each parcel responds to its specific context while preserving large trees and incorporating
program derived from community workshops and neighborhood planning efforts. The northern parcel
design redevelops a former asphalt lot into a landscaped park with soft, undulating planted areas, a
community event space, and programming to serve park users of all ages and abilities. The southern
parcel’s design complements the north by offering a variety of athletic programming and substantial
upgrades including a recreational track encircling a multi-sport synthetic turf field, sport courts and a
reimagined comfort station among other park amenities.
Special Factors & Additional Information:
The much-anticipated overhaul of the 106-year-old Betsy Head Park includes a project vision that both upgrades infrastructure and accommodates a versatile balance of active and passive programming – a design that refreshes this influential urban park to serve generations to come. The Mayor’s office chose this large 10.5-acre Brownsville park as part of a $150-million-dollar investment to provide transformative capital improvements to five large, regional parks across each of the NYC boroughs. The selected “Anchor Parks” provide a stabilizing, centering force for the communities they serve by offering larger and more diverse resources than smaller community parks. Betsy Head Park serves nearly 39,000 residents within a half-mile radius and is the main source of green space for the Brownsville community. One project goal was to provide a versatile design for the current and changing needs of the community.
A multipurpose event space with amphitheater-style seating accommodates small community events and performances, serving as an outdoor classroom for adjacent schools. The project boasts the first-ever constructed NYC parkour teen fitness course and inclusionary self-competitive basketball course for those with physical and mental disabilities. The design vocabulary of the northern parcel complements the neighboring existing playground, incorporating curvilinear, sweeping pathways and a large plaza-style, sunken urban skate park with sculptural geometries.
A critical objective for the southern parcel was to provide a varied assortment of inclusive athletic
programming. The synthetic turf field, which also stores stormwater in a series of below-grade pipes,
accommodates softball, football, soccer and lacrosse. A 4-lane recreational running track provides
cardiovascular exercise to complement strength training at several outdoor fitness stations. Other site amenities include domino and chess tables, a multi-purpose space, traverse wall, handball courts, seating areas, basketball courts, and LED security and sports field lighting, ADA-accessible entrances, and a renovated comfort station.