For Valentine’s Day, NYC Department of Environment Protection (DEP) and Open House New York hosted a virtual tour of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility.
Grab a date (or join solo) and take a peek inside the city’s largest sewage treatment plant, where wastewater—collected from storm drains and the toilets and sinks of more than one million New Yorkers—is treated each day in a complex system, including eight giant stainless steel digester eggs.
Originally opened in 1967 to treat wastewater from Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility, located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is the largest of New York City’s fourteen treatment plants.
In the 1990s, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began the planning for the comprehensive, $5 billion upgrade of the facility to meet new standards of wastewater treatment. DEP engaged Polshek Partnership (now Ennead Architects) to work with engineers Greeley and Hanson, Malcolm Pirnie, and Hazen and Sawyer, to guide the architectural character of the upgraded facility.
According to lead project architect Jim Polshek, “Complex feats of engineering can also be significant works of architecture.” This virtual program focuses on Polshek’s award-winning architectural master plan and the ways in which design innovation helped to balance the requirements of large-scale water pollution control with community amenities, like improved waterfront access and public art.
In addition, participants learned about how the digester eggs got their shape, why you should not take a shower during a rainstorm, and the real problem with “flushable” wipes. The program included a behind-the-scenes video tour, a conversation with DEP Director of Public Design Outreach Alicia West, and audience Q&A.