Water_Works Questions and Answers – Second Round

Updated: December 18, 2012

  1. Is the number of the handball courts definite, or may we reduce it? By the handball court do you mean the size of an international handball court which is 40 x 20 meters (120 x 60 ft)?

    GbD: Some flexibility in the size of the handball courts is fine, but they should roughly correspond to the size of typical NYC handball courts.
  2. Are there any height limitations in the area?

    GbD: There are zoning regulations, but for the purposes of this competition you can assume that they don't apply. However, please be mindful of the contextual considerations.

  3. May we expand the building by cantilevering it beyond the site boundaries??

    GbD: The purpose of the competition is to propose realistic and buildable solutions. If cantilevers are proposed that extend over neighboring private and public property, the entrant should be mindful of the allowable building envelope on the neighboring properties and required vehicular clearances. The cantilevers should not reduce the capacity to develop the neighboring properties.

  4. Is it possible to attach more areas like rentable ones, to the designed building? Or should we just work with the spaces required?

    GbD: Expanding the program is acceptable as long as the proposed use can be supported and is consistent with the competition's objectives.

  5. Is there a requirement for where the reservoir tanks should be placed? That is, should they be designed at the north end of the site, or can they be designed in the canal, or on the public property that is northeast of the canal (but out of the highlighted competition area)?

    GbD: The location of the tanks is at the designer's discretion as long as they are within the boundaries of the competition site.
  6. Can we assume dredging will occur before the project starts?

    GbD: Yes

  7. What is the elevation of the ground around the canal?

    GbD: The average elevation for areas immediately around the head of the Canal is around 7 feet, sloping up to 9 feet near Bond Street and Nevins Street.

  8. What is the invert elevation of the RH-034 outfall?

    GbD: We estimate that the bottom of the RH-034 CSO outlet is about 3 to 4 feet below mean sea level, meaning that is about one foot below water level at low tide.

  9. Should the CSO storage tanks be open-air?

    GbD: The CSO storage tanks should not be open air.

  10. Are the CSO storage tanks empty most of the time?

    GbD: This is dependent on the frequency and intensity of CSO weather-related events.

  11. Are there any technical limitations in the requirements for the CSO tanks?

    GbD: Please refer to the Paerdegat Basin information. We do not expect a detailed technical proposal.

  12. We are wondering how flexible or inflexible the listed Community Center program requirements are. Is everything that is listed ["skateboarding park, handball courts," etc] absolutely required or are these more or less suggestions or recommendations? How much freedom is there for us to re-interpret or re-envision these recreational program elements?

    GbD: We welcome re-interpretation and re-envisioning as long as the programmatic elements are accommodated.

  13. Is everything that is listed here required? Or are we at liberty to propose alternatives to these? For example, may we propose something like an outdoor theater or performance space instead of an ice skating rink or skateboard park?

    GbD: There is latitude with the programming, but the areas listed in the competition brief are consistent with the needs of the local community. If you decide to provide program elements such as the ones described in your email, you should demonstrate how these would engage with a community facility that is exploring our relationship with water.

  14. Should I put the retention tanks out of the pool areas (blue areas) in the gowanus canal competition?

    GbD: They may go anywhere on the competition site.

  15. We are wondering if you have specific data regarding the composition of the overflow volume of water to be retained on this site? On average, what percentage of the water coming into the overflow retention tanks is raw sewage and what percentage is storm water?

    GbD: This varies radically depending on how much rainfall there is, how intense the storm, how long since the last storm, etc. If this percentage of raw sewage being treated is integral to your design, please include your assumptions in your entry.

  16. Does the Community Center Program criteria listed in the Program section reflect community input from the residents who live in the area?

    GbD: The Community Center Program is based on a similar facility in Brooklyn and discussions with key stakeholders in the community.

  17. Is there a place we can access community input session meeting notes?

    GbD: No.

  18. Do all of the Indoor Recreation and Community Support Area components listed in the Program section already exist at the park now or are these new and based on what the community has said they need?

    GbD: Some of the components already exist, such as the pool, handball courts, basketball courts, etc. Other components are new.

  19. It looks like Department of Parks and Recreation [DPR] has already come up with a full plan for the Thomas Greene Park and Playground, phase 1 of which is already in construction. DPR’s layout for Phase 2 includes many required recreational elements of the competition’s Program; however we assume that because designing the recreational facilities are a component of the design competition that DPR’s phase 2 plan is open to modification?

    GbD: At the designer’s discretion, the proposed design by DPR (both phases) can be replaced, modified, or incorporated into the final design proposal.

  20. Will the handball courts, basketball courts and skateboard park be demolished as well as the two existing pools? Is the “pool site” as defined in the Program that which is indicated on DPR’s phase 2 planned layout for the park?

    GbD: See answer to Question #19. The entire competition site is at the designer’s disposal for redesign.

  21. Is there already a plan to remove the underground tanks from the original Fulton MGP that are currently beneath the site or is this up for question?

    GbD: For purposes of this competition the designer may assume that the tanks will be removed.

  22. Our latest information is that there are both a remediation plan and an interim remedial measure plan currently being created for the former Fulton MGP site following the recent completion of both these investigations, with no given dates. However we assume that the construction for the park redesign will end up working well/not being in conflict with the timeline to start site remediation?

    GbD: This is dependent on public and political support of the competition’s overall objectives. We are hoping that the results of the competition will inspire the key decision-makers to coordinate the remediation efforts with the construction of a new community center.

  23. The CSO Retention Facility Program Description indicates that the 4 million gallon retention tank has to be included (beyond the components of the facility that are designated as needing the 26,000 sq ft.) on site but the project Site section says that the EPA has indicated that tank/s need to be “somewhere in the neighborhood”. Does the design need to allow for the tank/s to be placed below the pool site or can it be somewhere else in the neighborhood if an appropriate location can be identified?

    GbD: The tanks should be located within the competition site boundaries.

  24. For each “first flush” of the RH-034 overflow we calculate the following: RH-034 dumps 121 million gallons per year into the canal; there are approximately 56 CSO overflows per year; that’s ~2.2 mg/event, 20% of which, according to the program (~440,000 gal/event), is all that’s planned for capture by the site’s retention facilities.

    GbD: This presumes that each weather event is isolated from other weather events. Since that is often not the case, particularly during hurricane season, the calculation is based on the assumption that several weather events may take place within a few calendar days or weeks. Additionally, we have included excess capacity since it is difficult for us to project the intensity and frequency of future weather events. It is at the designer’s discretion to anticipate the impact of climate change and how much capacity could be required over the next several decades.

  25. Are the two community swimming pools and their facilities open air or indoor?

    GbD: The program is based on an existing community facility in Brooklyn that has outdoor pools and changing areas. However, solutions that propose either an indoor year-round pool or a pool that is open-air in the summer and enclosed during the winter will be considered.


Water_Works Questions and Answers – First Round

Updated: November 08, 2012

  1. One of my questions at this time relates to the need to pump the stored water back into the sewer system. Does this mean back in to the canal from where it initially came, or pumped from the site and allowed to run north up to the Red Hook treatment plant?

    GbD: After the water has been treated/contained on the competition site, it will be returned via the Pump Back Equipment to the Red Hook sewer system for final treatment at the RH Water Pollution Control Plant. There is a force main running inside the flushing tunnel that connects to the treatment plant. Treatment facilities, such as Paerdegat Basin, are typically designed to handle most CSO events, but it is impossible to design them to handle the most severe events. Typically, in the most severe events, the capacity of the retention tanks is exceeded and some of the treated water dumps directly back into the local waterway - in this case, the canal. The treated water is cleaner than it was when it left the CSO, but it still contains some contaminants. One goal of this competition is to seek innovative solutions that explore what happens when either the technology fails or is under capacity. Are other "technologies" available or can they be designed to support more traditional engineering approaches? If the water is treated to the same standard as at the Red Hook plant (e.g. through an innovative, more localized technology) it could be discharged directly to the canal.

  2. The very useful looking maps on the Mapping Resources page do not link to larger PDF versions as they note. 

    GbD: If this is referring to the Resources page, we have updated all the links and they should be working.

  3. I graduated from the University of Manchester as a part 2 Architectural Assistant in 2008, am I eligible to enter the competition? I am not currently a registered student neither am I a registered architect. 

    GbD: You are eligible to register as a professional.

  4. It appears the Thomas Greene Playground is currently undergoing renovation, are we to include this in our proposal or should the site be treated as a "blank slate"? 

    GbD: The eastern part of the site where the park is located is undergoing a renovation. At the October 2012  Public Outreach meeting by National Grid and the NYC Park's Department, the City stated that they would not replace the current Park design and planned surface renovations unless legally forced to. The jury is still out as to whether Superfund will require the removal of the coal tar plume, or if the current "containment" wall at the Canal will be sufficient. Assume that the site is a blank slate, and with Hurricane Sandy's flood management concerns, also assume that the removal of the "brownfield cap" and lowering of the site back to its original flood plain function is also a possibility.

  5. Are Nevins St. and Degraw St. to remain as roads, or can our park/building footprint claim that space?  It is unclear from the blue highlighted layer over the Site photo on the website, since Douglas St. and 3rd Ave. are not highlighted. 

    GbD: You may claim that space, but the design solution should not interfere with pedestrian and vehicular traffic. DEP currently uses hollow sections under Nevins and Degraw Street for sewer and pump station chamber functions.

  6. Is the 17,000sf of space dedicated to deck space the correct number? 

    GbD: It is based on space requirements around public pools.

  7. Can we build in the canal? 

    GbD: Yes. However, take into consideration navigation requirements and the DEP Flushing Tunnel Outflow, located at the end of Douglass Street on the west side of the canal which pumps in 200 million gallons of water a day from Buttermilk Channel. Assume an 18 foot canal depth after the Superfund cleanout dredging to allow for barge access.

  8. Is this an "only students" competition? 

    GbD: No.

  9. I would like to know if the Gowanus by Design Competition is a world-wide competition open to non-American participants. 

    GbD: The competition is open to everybody.

  10. I am recent LA graduate who is now working in the professional field in Hong Kong. i would like to find out if I am eligible to enter the competition as individual. 

    GbD: The international competition is open to everybody and individuals can enter.

  11. Site boundaries: a historic Sanborn map shows Douglass Street as a R.O.W on both sides of the canal and the Department of Water Supply between Butler and Douglass, east of the Pumping Station. Are these city properties? Can they be included in the competition? 

    GbD: The eastern side of Douglass Street is a demapped public street (meaning it is now private property) and the Flushing Tunnel pumping station at the head of the canal is a public facility. It is not the intention of the competition to extend the site to the western side of the canal or into the pumping station. However, if they are critical to your design assume that they can be reacquired by the City. The old Aqueduct Pumping Station at 270 Nevins St (corner of Nevins & Butler) is not a public facility (reference: HYPERLINK "http://gis.nyc.gov/doitt/nycitymap/"http://gis.nyc.gov/doitt/nycitymap/).

  12. What is the relation between the CSO Retention Facility, the Flushing Tunnel, and the large outfall at the north end of the Canal? 

    GbD: The CSO outfall at the north end of the canal is the largest CSO (combined sewer overflow) in the canal. The new CSO retention facility on the competition site would receive the "first flush" from the CSO (the first 20% of any overflow), treat it, separate out the solids, BODs, and other pollutants, and return the water to the sewer system or canal, if sufficiently treated (see Question 1). The Flushing Tunnel connects Buttermilk Channel, which is located between Brooklyn and Governor's Island, to the canal; its purpose is to push cleaner water into the canal. The Flushing Tunnel is not part of this competition, but its impact should be considered. (See Question 7).

  13. Do the 4 million gallon retention tanks store clean water after treatment, or black water before treatment, or different levels of grey water during treatment?

    GbD: They are intended to store the first flush of the CSO overflow during the treatment process. The cleaned water will be returned to the sewer system or the canal (see Question 1).

  14. How will the CSO treatment facility integrate wetlands? 

    GbD: We are interested in all practical solutions including wetlands.

  15. I'm interested in joining the Gowanus by Design 2012 Competition: Water_Works. I just recently graduated with an undergraduate degree in Architectural Science in Toronto, Canada. This is only a pre-professional degree for an accredited M.Arch, so I cannot go for my licensure credits in Canada. Should I sign up as a professional since I am no longer a student? Will professional and student entries be looked at separately or equally? 

    GbD: The entries will be considered equally - the jury will not know the difference. If you are not a student currently enrolled at a university, you should enroll as a professional.

  16. I would still like to enter the competition. I am an individual who will be working alone. Perhaps a difficult question to answer, but given the detail you expect for the entries, is it still realistic for me to enter and submit a worthy proposal given the amount of time remaining before January 7th? 

    GbD: Yes - it is a one board submission and we extended the competition deadline so people would have sufficient time to work on a detailed solution.

  17. When I see your home page, there is discrepancy that new submission deadline is said as 01/07/2013 as well as 11:59 EST: Friday, Dec 14th, 2012. 

    GbD: The submission deadline is 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time, January 7, 2013.

  18. You have indicated that there are changes regarding submission and upload requirements, but I could not find any updates from the previous information. 

    GbD: The new submission deadline is 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time, January 7, 2013. The site has been updated to correct broken links, remove bad links, and reflect the new milestone dates.

  19. I am a student in high school student interested in this competition. I was looking over the deadlines and applications and see that you have to be 18 years of age to enter this competition. I also see that the applications are reviewed on January 7th and I turn 18 on the 15th of January. I was wondering if i am still allowed to enter - I am currently attending a architecture high school and would love to enter this contest and wish that you can make an exception. 

    GbD: We are happy to make the exception and look forward to seeing your entry!

  20. I was looking over the information for the Waterworks competition, and just wanted to inform you that the link "About the Area" under Resources>General Gowanus information does not work. 

    GbD: We removed the link since the information can now be found here: http://gowanusbydesign.org/community-resources/view/the-gowanus-community.

  21. I was getting pretty excited about the Gowanus competition, have spent a few days getting my head around the specifics -- today went down to the competition site to check it out.  I found there is construction in progress on the site, unmentioned in the briefing.  

    GbD: See Question 4.

  22. I am wishing to confirm the submission date for the waterworks competition as I've just been looking at the web site & on the same page there are 2 submission dates (14 Dec 2012 or 7th jan 2013). 

    GbD: The submission deadline is 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time, January 7, 2013.

  23. The CAD file appears to be scaled in imperial, is there a metric version for international applicants? Also there appears to be no urban context on the file, i.e. Building lines. Would it be possible to get this information?

    GbD: We have added a CAD file with building and street outlines on the Site Downloads page. We do not have a metric version, but the file can be converted.

  24. When is the actual deadline for the competition?

    GbD: The submission deadline is 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time, January 7, 2013.

  25. Could someone propose an intervention on the canal itself?

    GbD: Yes, within the confines of the competition site (see Question 1 for more detail).

  26. Are we allowed to have explanatory text on our board, supporting the concept of the project? 

    GbD: Yes, but please follow the submission requirements for text size.

  27. You mention in the program section a "sitting area with outdoor sprinklers". What does that mean exactly, sprinklers for recreational reasons or for access from the fire department. 

    GbD: Recreational sprinklers - they are a common feature in NYC playgrounds.

  28. What does MGP stand for? 

    GbD: Manufacturing Gas Plant.

  29. Could the entrants propose a solution for collecting and storing storm water before it is combined with the sewer water, so it is a less toxic body of water that can be stored and used on site? 

    GbD: Yes.

  30. I would like to clarify if Nov 12 is the registration or submission deadline, or both. The paragraph under "Eligibility" seems to contradict the deadline for submission listed under schedule. 

    GbD: The date under 'Eligibility' was incorrect and has been fixed - the new registration deadline is November 19 due to Hurricane Sandy and the submission deadline is 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time, January 7, 2013.

  31. The brief says that the CSO retention facility is to be placed on the pool site, does it mean where the existing swimming pool is, or it can be placed elsewhere on the competition site? "By redirecting the first 20% of each storm’s overflow to the park site where it will be stored in a retention tank during heavy weather events", does it mean that the retention tanks also have to be place where the actual park is or can be placed elsewhere on the competition site.

    GbD: Each programmed area and facility can be placed anywhere on the competition site.

  32. How will the park site be remediated?  Capped? Excavated? Is it up to contestants?

    GbD: For purposes of the competition, assume it will be excavated unless a credible argument can be made to cap it. (See Question 4).

  33. How will the sewage treatment facility be built? On grade? How do they process the outflow that currently spills on the canal? Do they pump it to the treatment tanks? 

    GbD: The overflow from RH-034 will be directed to the competition site where it will be treated. The treatment facility can be built anywhere on the site, either on grade, below grade, or elevated. Solids will be separated and removed by truck, so access is important. Please refer to the Paerdegat Basin schematic available on the competition website. We do not expect completely engineered solutions, but just a basic understanding of the process, including gravity fed pipes or pumps, or whatever innovation you choose.

  34. Will the storage tanks be part of the treatment plant before treatment? As part of the process? At the end before going into to the canal? Do they hold rain water? Run-off? Do they need to be above grade or can they be buried?

    GbD: Please see the Paerdegat Basin schematic available on the competition website; the holding tanks are intended to receive the first 20% of the CSO overflow (not rainfall). The storage tanks can be located anywhere on site, at any elevation.

  35. Is the treatment plant off limits or publicly accessible? 

    GbD: This is at the designer's discretion, but assume that public access on parts of the design are required. A good reference is the Manhattan HYPERLINK "http://inhabitat.com/nyc/sewage-leak-stopped-at-north-river-plant-but-health-advisories-remain-in-effect-for-ny-beaches/riverbank-state-park-plant/"North River Water Pollution Control Plant, which incorporates a park on the roof.

  36. Is there a volume of water in gallons that we have to account for? 

    GbD: Yes - this has been accounted for in the size of the holding tanks. However, it is possible that future severe storm weather events could create enough CSO to exceed the capacity of the retention tanks. It is the challenge of this project to propose innovative, workable solutions that take this into account (see Question 1).

  37. Is the flushing canal only clean water or is it run-off? Does the water go directly to the canal? Does it connect with treatment plant?  GbD: If you are referring to the Flushing Tunnel, it is not connected to the sewer system, but the force main that runs inside the tunnel is connected to the Red Hook plant. The tunnel's purpose is to pump cleaner water from Buttermilk Channel directly into the canal.
  38. Who is cleaning the contaminated sites adjacent to the canal? 

    GbD: That depends on who owns them and if the EPA has designated the owners as PRPs (Potentially Responsible Parties). Generally, they are under the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Brownfield Program. In the case of Thomas Greene Park, (the Water_Works site) National Grid is the responsible cleanup party. You can find out more about site cleanup proposals at: http://www.fultonmgpsite.com/ (see Question 4).

  39. Will the Q+A be published on the website? 

    GbD: Yes.


Note: An updated aerial photo has been added to the Site Downloads page.