Architects Envision "Algae Pontoon" Parks Linking Brooklyn, Manhattan, Governors Island


A proposal to use "algae pontoons" that could capture carbon emissions along urban arteries was declared the winner as the winner of WPA 2.0, a competition sponsored by the  UCLA Architecture and Urban Design think tank cityLAB. Riffing off the intentions of the original 1930s Works Progress Administration, the competition looked for ways that public works projects could be reimagined and redefined for the country's future—especially in the light of the $150 billion planned to be allocated to utilities and infrastructure development in the U.S.


"Carbon T.A.P.// Tunnel Algae Park" was designed by PORT Architecture + Urbanism, with offices in Chicago and New York, and works like a carbon-emissions recycling center that creates greenspace at the same time. The pontoons would attract carbon dioxide from cars and other vehicles and use them in bio-fuel production, and the areas containing the algae would be turned into a vast urban park that included wetlands, aquatic and avian habitats and recreational facilities like bike lanes and promenades. The proposal included a plan for implementation as a "algal-architecture" corridor that follows the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel between Brooklyn, Governors Island, and Manhattan, along a route that the city's famous development czar Robert Moses proposed for cars in 1936.


A symposium held at the National Building Museum yesterday featured the presentations of all six finalists and the announcement of the winner. But here's the really exciting part: These finalists are forging a direct link with the government officials who can put their proposals into action since representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Office of Urban Affairs, U.S. General Services Administration's Design Excellence Program, and the National Endowment for the Arts were all present as well. Today, cityLAB will march these proposals up to the Capitol and present them to the various government agencies as future ideas for U.S. infrastructure.

[WPA 2.0]

Add New Comment


  • Robert Matson

    Learn to enjoy the Hudson River waterways, as they are.

    That alone is all that's required to make them attractive. There is no need for physical alteration or development on the waters around Manhattan.

    I, and many thousands of others, have, will and do swim every summer in the river's waters around Governor's Island, Manhattan and Long Island (Brooklyn). Swimming in the Hudson is a profound experience. And it's a shame that so few New Yorkers take it upon themselves to likewise enjoy the waters around us.

    There is no need to build a park on the water. The water already IS a park. Leave it clean and untouched.

    Of additional concern, the islands and open skies over the water ways contribute significantly to the beauty and mystique of NYC. If we build parks like that proposed, it not only diminishes that natural beauty. It also takes us one logical step closer to building sad luxury housing and office buildings alongside. It's hard, but not impossible, to imagine anything uglier for New York.

    (As for the predictable petty jokes, no, the water does not smell bad, a la Seinfeld's Kramer. It's not a sewer, it's a river.)

    - Robert Matson, Brooklyn, NY

  • Mcgarty1591

    Your ignorance and sheer stupidity is unbelievable! Building an "algae park" in NYC would be a tremendous architectural feat and would benefit the city and the ecosystem around it. It would remove much of the toxins that are emitted from the city and produce new, clean oxygen to breath. In times like these we need to look forward and generate plans that will better integrate our society with the planet that we live in. You are backwards! Haha, "leave it clean and untouched.." really? Is that what you are really saying the Hudson river is, clean and untouched? The Hudson river (particularly the section surrounding NYC) has been extracted of every bit of it's natural beauty and it is our job as the species responsible for it's degradation to at least propose solutions to fix what we have done. And to think that this idea is far fetched or too unattractive to solve the issue is unintelligent and absurd. And as for the predictable jokes, you are an idiot, a la the rest of the world.