#Archtober: Building of the Day

Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Plant

HeyGreenpoint, what are YOU doing today?

I’m (FINALLY…) heading out to the Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with the Center for Architecture (AIANY) as part of their annual #Archtober event “Building of the Day.”

Getting into this civic project is a hard-fought ticket battle as the facility opens its door to the public three times a year in February, April, and October.

With themes like My Smelly Valentine in February, Earth Day tours in April and its affiliation with Open House New York in October; all three tours sell out fast.

The largest of the 14 wastewater treatment plants in New York City, the upgrade and modernization of the Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Plant was divided into nine phases over 25 years beginning in 1998 with a budget of 4.5 billion dollars.

The first of the plan was completed in 2009 at the cost of $680m. It included a new centrifuge structure and a disinfection facility- all connected by glass walkways by Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership). A colorful welcome center designed by famed by Vito Acconci, the inclusion of lighting design by Hervé Descottes of L’Observatoire International and quarter-mile nature walk by environmental sculptor George Trakas. But the real show stopper is the eight futuristic stainless steel-clad digesters; amusingly named “Digester Eggs.”

These digester eggs are fed by 180 miles of sewers processing a stunning 1.2 to 2.6 (in wet weather) million cubic meters of wastewater daily! According to Micah Walter of Cooper Hewitt who took one of the early tours in 2012, notes; the digester eggs mimic the function and temperature of a human stomach, as black, bubbly ooze is fermented by bacteria to create the sludge for further processing. This process stabilizes the sludge by converting most of the organic material into water, carbon dioxide, and methane gas (the gas is then used to power the plant).

I’m hoping they still let you peak into the digesters and see the black stuff percolate. (equal parts ewwwwww + yay!)


Cunetta, Joseph, and Robert Feuer. “Design of the Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Project.” Journal (Water Pollution Control Federation), vol. 40, no. 4, 1968, pp. 643–658. JSTOR, JSTOR,