Blue City Blue Blocks Garden

Fourteen percent of New Yorkers—1.3 million people—live within or adjacent to the 100-year floodplain (Rebuild by Design, 2018). Protecting people, structures, and property as sea level continues to rise in the years ahead will be one of the great engineering challenges of the 21st century and beyond. 

“Blue City Blue Blocks Gardens” offer a community-driven solution to help plan the city for resiliency and circularity through innovative design, experiential education, and green economy training. The project harnesses the combined strengths and skills of Pratt faculty and students, the RETI Center, South Brooklyn Community High School, and PS 676 to design the second iteration of Blue City floating gardens—full-scale, semi-submersible structures mimicking an integrated ecological system—that will not only improve air and water quality but also increase habitat for waterfowl and marine life at the GBX Terminal in Red Hook, Brooklyn. As an extension to RETI’s resilience-focused curriculum for schools, the project will provide students with hands-on learning about clear water, marine habitat formation, and plant training to promote civic ecology practices and advance environmental resilience.

Rendering shows a web of geometric plantings and platforms floating on water
Design exploration of the Blue City Blue Blocks Garden
Aerial map of Red Hook Brooklyn with circles marking potential locations for the project along the waterfront
5 Identified locations for deployment.
A zoom meeting with educators and scientists from the Billion Oyster Project and the Harbor School shed more light on the permitting process and the proposed site [it is more exposed to wave action than it looks!] – and got into the fun details of how the gardens can support and expand their educational and programmatic goals.
Person wearing waders standing in in knee-high water maneuvers a test-version of a floating garden into place
The frame of a Blue City Blue Block test garden sits on the beach with potted plants in the background waiting to be installed

Project Year



  • Elliott MaltbyVisiting Associate Professor Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment
  • Gita NandanVisiting Associate Professor Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment