Alloy Development Proposes Modern Take on Brownstone Brooklyn

Monday, February 11, 2013
55-57 Pearl Street. (Courtesy Alloy Development)

55-57 Pearl Street. (Courtesy Alloy Development)

Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood is home to many a loft, but few, if any, townhouses make up the neighborhood streetscape. Curbed reported that boutique development firm and architect Alloy Development plans on building five adjacent, 6-story houses at Pearl Street in place of a graffiti-covered garage. But these won’t emulate your typical 19th-century Brooklyn-style brownstone, they will include a single facade built of ductal concrete fins with wood on the ground level.

55-57 Pearl Street. (Courtesy Alloy Development)

55-57 Pearl Street. (Courtesy Alloy Development)

“While these are the first townhouses in DUMBO, we’re hoping to bring the same level of thoughtfulness and care as we have to the other projects,” wrote AJ Pires, executive vice president at Alloy, in an email. Alloy has been behind other residential projects in DUMBO including two warehouse conversions at 192 Water and 185 Plymouth Streets.

According to the Brooklyn Paper, some preservationists, are not pleased with the proposal. They not only want to keep the colorful graffiti-covered garage, but have also expressed concern that the chosen materials—concrete and wood—will not mesh aesthetically with DUMBO’s predominantly brick facade buildings. These same questions came up last week when Alloy presented its plans to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Overall, the feedback was positive, but Alloy will return in a few months with revised plans.

55-57 Pearl Street as it appears today. (Courtesy Google)

55-57 Pearl Street as it appears today. (Courtesy Google)

55-57 Pearl Street. (Courtesy Alloy Development)

55-57 Pearl Street. (Courtesy Alloy Development)

2 Responses to “Alloy Development Proposes Modern Take on Brownstone Brooklyn”

  1. mxthree says:

    This is not a modern take on brownstone brooklyn. This building type more closely resembles the Herzog and DeMeuron’s townhouses on Bond Street across the river in Manhattan, and it similarly enjoys playing the visual trick of making the townhouses read like one large building without emphasizing party walls or any separation between units. It has taken a vertical building typology and turned it into a horizontal one.

    The use of wood on building exteriors like in this case is merely a trend in architecture these days. I’m wary of its success if Landmarks should choose to approve the wood scheme, because sooner or later the wood will no longer be trendy and then this building will look outdated. Meanwhile, this neighborhood has real history and has developed a very distinct character with its age. Buildings that look like this should be placed sparingly, or perhaps in another neighborhood.

    Also, perhaps the designers should reconsider their black party wall which sits exposed above the neighboring building. It could use a more neighborly finish. Dumbo is a neighborhood whose historic and gritty buildings are seen from all directions, especially because of their visibility from the bridges above; they are not merely one-sided buildings.

  2. Edward R. Acker, AIA says:

    Sorry, it looks like a single wide commercial building rather than individual townhouses. I have no problem with a modern facade expression, but that still should give back scale and rhythm to the streetscape, This building misses the opportunity to contribute to an active and people-friendly streetscape.

    I’m an old Brooklyn boy whose uncle used to manufacture furniture grade TV cabinets back in the 1950’s when Dumbo was still a gritty industrial and active port neighborhood.

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