The Pull

THE PULL: WILD GARDENS AT PAERDEGAT “The Pull: wild gardens at paerdegat” addresses the rejuvenation of the natural, technological, and cultural systems at Paerdegat Basin, a barren 60-acre site in Brooklyn at the edge of the Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The New York Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is planning improvements in water quality and habitat diversity for the basins’s degraded ecosystems. The Public Art Fund commissioned the artist to consult with DEP and to develop a proposal for reclaiming the basin as part of a city-wide initiative called “Urban Paradise: Gardens in the City.“ Paerdegat Basin started out as a tidal estuary fed by a creek; was subsequently used for agriculture; and was finally dredged in anticipation of its development as a port facility. The port never materialized and a sewage treatment pump station was finally located at its head. Small scale marinas as well as odd bits of public access link the surrounding development with the water’s edge. However, the intervening area remains a no-person’s-land with fragments of ecosystems struggling to reassert a viable order. Efforts to improve the basin are especially important because of its connection to the diverse habitat of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, an important wintering and breeding area for egrets, herons, and ibises.

Approach:
Historically, the garden has represented the interrelationship of nature and culture and has served as a balancing point between wilderness and cultivation. For the disturbed ecosystems of Paerdegat Basin, the garden is used as a framework for restoring nature through human efforts. This is expressed with a primary metaphor enriched with intertwining elements. Metaphor:
The site is anchored by an observation deck shaped like a horseshoe magnet, which represents the forces needed to pull nature back into the city. The planting, grading, shoreline, and garden spaces express the environment’s dynamic response as the symbolic magnet sweeps over the site. In the basin’s waters, a series of tethered floating islands reflects the movement of the tides.

Intertwining Elements:
“Technological Forces”
The garden reinforces the DEP’s efforts to improve degraded ecosystems by treating stormwater. In reference to the creek that once fed the basin before it was dredged in the early part of this century, stormwater from the surrounding neighborhood grid is captured from the street ends, passed through an oil/water separator, purified in natural streams, and released into the basin “Natural Forces”.


The shoreline of the tidal wetlands is curvilinear, enhancing habitat and providing waterside gardens for canoeists. The south bank of the basin contains a natural laboratory in which to study the process of rejuvenating a damaged ecosystem. On the north bank, there is a limited-access public garden defined within a progression of large-scale outdoor rooms. Each room is planted with one stage of plant succession and is then left to find its natural balance. The successional environments are forest, lowland forest, shrub, grassland, and marsh.

“Cultural Forces”
Historically, successive waves of peoples have passed through east Brooklyn; this phenomenon is expressed as a series of five circular “garden folly” spaces conceived as metaphorical stepping-stones. Located within the larger-scale outdoor successional rooms on the basin’s north bank, these provide an intimate experience of ordered plantings representative of the five different stages of plant succession. Each tended garden is emblematic of the struggle between the cultivated landscape and natural succession patterns.

Model

This is a model of “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat”. The 90-acre project addresses the rejuvenation and ecological enhancement of the polluted waters, shoreline, and uplands of Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn NY. A steel observation deck shaped like a horseshoe magnet stands at the head of the basin, evoking the desire to pull the forces of nature back into the city. The plantings, grading, shoreline, and garden spaces express the dynamic forces activated when the “magnet” swept over the site. The project also includes a series of garden follies that serve as metaphors for the battle between the cultivated landscape and the natural succession patterns of untamed nature.

Illustrative Plan

This is an illustrative plan of “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat”. The 90-acre project addresses the rejuvenation and ecological enhancement of the polluted waters, shoreline, and uplands of Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn NY. A steel observation deck shaped like a horseshoe magnet stands at the head of the basin, evoking the desire to pull the forces of nature back into the city. The plantings, grading, shoreline, and garden spaces express the dynamic forces activated when the “magnet” swept over the site. The project also includes a series of garden follies that serve as metaphors for the battle between the cultivated landscape and the natural succession patterns of untamed nature.

Paerdegat Basin, before and after

These two plans of Paerdegat Basin compare the pre-existing dredged basin with the artist’s proposal for enhanced wetlands, shoreline, and uplands within “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat”. The 90-acre project addresses the rejuvenation and ecological enhancement of the polluted waters, shoreline, and uplands of Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn NY. A steel observation deck shaped like a horseshoe magnet stands at the head of the basin, evoking the desire to pull the forces of nature back into the city. The plantings, grading, shoreline, and garden spaces express the dynamic forces activated when the “magnet” swept over the site.

Plan

This is a labeled plan of “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat”. The 90-acre project addresses the rejuvenation and ecological enhancement of the polluted waters, shoreline, and uplands of Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn NY. A steel observation deck shaped like a horseshoe magnet stands at the head of the basin, evoking the desire to pull the forces of nature back into the city. The plantings, grading, shoreline, and garden spaces express the dynamic forces activated when the “magnet” swept over the site. The project also includes a series of garden follies that serve as metaphors for the battle between the cultivated landscape and the natural succession patterns of untamed nature.

Garden Folly #1: “Suspension”

Within “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat”, five garden follies serve as metaphors for the battle between the cultivated landscape and the natural succession patterns of nature untamed. “Suspension” is the first folly and offers an experience of being over the forest canopy. With the earth down below, a suspension bridge is surrounded by a canopy of symmetrically planted trees. The bridge itself includes a treehouse with a view down to the forest floor. Elongated nest-like sculptures are suspended from the branches of the trees. “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat” addresses the rejuvenation and ecological enhancement of the polluted waters, shoreline, and uplands of Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn NY. A steel overlook shaped like a magnet stands at the head of the basin to “pull” the forces of nature back into the city. The overlook, plantings, grading, shoreline, and garden spaces express the dynamic forces activated when the “magnet” swept over the site.

Garden Folly #2: “Passage”

Within “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat”, five garden follies serve as metaphors for the battle between the cultivated landscape and the natural succession patterns of nature untamed. “Passage” is the second folly and offers an experience of enclosure. A rusticated pleached willow passageway leads into an earthen ring—held by a palisade of willow logs and topped by a circle of willow trees. Inside, the path crosses a stream to evoke a sense of passage. “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat” addresses the rejuvenation and ecological enhancement of the polluted waters, shoreline, and uplands of Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn NY. A steel overlook shaped like a magnet stands at the head of the basin to “pull” the forces of nature back into the city. The overlook, plantings, grading, shoreline, and garden spaces express the dynamic forces activated when the “magnet” swept over the site.

Garden Folly #3: “Spectacle”

Within “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat”, five garden follies serve as metaphors for the battle between the cultivated landscape and the natural succession patterns of nature untamed. “Spectacle” is reminiscent of historical green theaters; a semi-circular amphitheater is planted with red-barked and yellow-barked dogwoods along a series of stepped arcs. In reference to the notion of spectacle, the stately dogwoods observe a gradual “survival of the fittest” enacted by vines on a mesh screen. At the bottom of the amphitheater, a stormwater stream is collected into a pool. “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat” addresses the rejuvenation and ecological enhancement of the polluted waters, shoreline, and uplands of Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn NY. A steel overlook shaped like a magnet stands at the head of the basin to “pull” the forces of nature back into the city. The overlook, plantings, grading, shoreline, and garden spaces express the dynamic forces activated when the “magnet” swept over the site.

Garden Folly #4: “Divergence”

Within “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat”, five garden follies serve as metaphors for the battle between the cultivated landscape and the natural succession patterns of nature untamed. The approach to “Divergence” is through a cut in a stand of tall grasses. The grasses are held back by a flowing, curvilinear fence constructed of metal grass-like forms. A stormwater stream is ordered into dendritic channels, referencing the branching patterns which occur in both water and plant forms. In the middle of the folly, a boardwalk passes through grassy mounds and diverging channels. “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat” addresses the rejuvenation and ecological enhancement of the polluted waters, shoreline, and uplands of Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn NY. A steel overlook shaped like a magnet stands at the head of the basin to “pull” the forces of nature back into the city. The overlook, plantings, grading, shoreline, and garden spaces express the dynamic forces activated when the “magnet” swept over the site.

Garden Folly #5: “Congregation”

Within “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat”, five garden follies serve as metaphors for the battle between the cultivated landscape and the natural succession patterns of nature untamed. “Congregation” is the fifth folly and offers an experience of the water’s edge. Outlined by a claw-shaped dock, a circular tidepool has a collection of pebbles mounded in its center. The dock is composed of an aggregate of shells, pebbles, and other materials. “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat” addresses the rejuvenation and ecological enhancement of the polluted waters, shoreline, and uplands of Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn NY. A steel overlook shaped like a magnet stands at the head of the basin to “pull” the forces of nature back into the city. The overlook, plantings, grading, shoreline, and garden spaces express the dynamic forces activated when the “magnet” swept over the site.

Tethered Floating Island, Section

Responding to the magnetism caused by the pull of the sun and the moon, these islands bob and sway in the water. “The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat” addresses the rejuvenation and ecological enhancement of the polluted waters, shoreline, and uplands of Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn NY. A steel overlook shaped like a magnet stands at the head of the basin to “pull” the forces of nature back into the city. The overlook, plantings, grading, shoreline, and garden spaces express the dynamic forces activated when the “magnet” swept over the site.

PROJECT CREDITS:
Lorna Jordan, Artist & Lead Designer
With assistance from the Portico Group Commissioned by The Public Art Fund in cooperation with the NY Dept of Environmental Protection
A Restoration Plan for Paerdegat Basin near the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge