Meet Williamsburgh Savings Bank’s Lofty New Neighbor

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
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Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture+Design has won an international design competition for a hotel in Brooklyn at the Williamsburg Bridge. The proposed 86,000 square foot, 440-foot-tall tower is comprised of three 16-foot deep vertical slabs and joins a recently announced 40-story rental tower designed by FX Fowle nearby on the waterfront as the latest high-rise planned for the neighborhood. Oppenheim declined to name the competition sponsor, citing a confidential development team, but the site adjacent to the landmarked, 1870s-era Williamsburgh Savings Bank is currently under renovation by a group intending to build a hotel and event space on the corner of Broadway and Driggs Avenue.

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim, principal at Oppenheim A+D, was intrigued by the style, soul, and grit of the rapidly transforming Williamsburg neighborhood. Dubbed the Williamsburghotel, the tower mixes height and materiality to form a relationship with the surrounding neighborhood: the lowest slab with the existing area, the middle form with domed bank, and the tallest tower with the bridge. Oppenheim compared the set-backs of the three forms to traditional skyscrapers in New York on “an extreme scale.” The hotel’s crystalline facade is formed by structural diagonal steel designed to resist lateral loading. In addition to green roofs topping the two lower slabs, Oppenheim hopes to achieve LEED Platinum certification with geothermal, wind, and solar power.

“We did not want the hotel’s form to be in constant battle with the adjacent historic bank. We tried to accomplish more with less, opting for a timeless solution that delivers grace, and drama through powerful manipulations of scale, proportion, and materiality,” Chad Oppenheim said in a statement. “The primal notion of tower and basilica is a typology more often associated with the Renaissance, which is extremely appropriate for an area in the midst of its own full-blown renaissance. I am incredibly excited to do our first project in New York, and especially in Brooklyn. This was where my family first established roots when my great grand parents arrived from Europe. I was born here, and it is a wonderful home coming that will help us establish more of a presence in the area.”

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

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9 Responses to “Meet Williamsburgh Savings Bank’s Lofty New Neighbor”

  1. not again says:

    Another project from Oppenheim that will never be built … who came in second place in this “competition”.

  2. Dave says:

    Now whenever I ride over the bridge, I will feel like I am about to be crushed by this monstrosity. Stupid tacky disrespectful building. I really don’t understand why people are such idiots. Oh, wait: greed, duh.

  3. Dave says:

    Gosh, I didn’t even get to reading Chad’s comments:
    “We did not want the hotel’s form to be in constant battle with the adjacent historic bank.” — RIGHT, a 40 story glass building blends seamlessly.

    “We tried to accomplish more with less” – RIGHT, by building something 35 stories taller than anything else near it.

    “I was born here, and it is a wonderful home coming that will help us establish more of a presence in the area.” – RIGHT, Chad, we’ve been wondering where you’ve been all these years! Establish a presence? Who cares about you?!

  4. Lis K. says:

    another pointless, look-at-me piece of non-architecture

  5. carrie says:

    Keep out the interlopers and.leave WBurg alone please..no more high-rises needed where they don’t belong..my 88 year old aunt even calls it Miami Beach by the ferry..there has to be a way to rein in developers and the city who allows these proposals to even be considered..It’s a mistake to try and make WBurg into Tribeca, Soho, Chelsea, etc..I can’t speak for all, but many of us who live here wanted to get away from that…and I had hoped that there would be more affordable housing that remained for artists…more green roofs, etc. Development is fine, if it’s responsible, takes the existing infrastructure into account, relates to scale and to the people who live in the community….Already seeing once lovely side streets turning into shadows by the height of the new construction…this is a great community…find an island and call it EGO…build all you want..just not here…

  6. B.Old says:

    Stay in Miami Chad, we don’t want your blackened middle finger of Mordor casting it’s eternal shadow over Williamsburg.

  7. Clark Griswald says:

    The commenters sound like a bunch of nimby’s. Are there any valid complaints against this building or this project in general? Is the site zoned for a building this tall? Is it in an historic or landmarked district?

  8. Livable says:

    @Clark Griswald: Are the only complaints you’ll recognize as valid those that have to do with zoning or landmarks? That’s the kind of response that leads people to think that the only way to fight for a livable city is through the blunt weapons of zoning and landmarking.

    This building is ugly, it will blot out the sky, it will make a lot of money for one owner at the expense of that owner’s neighbors. It is not an intelligent project for this particular neighborhood or that particular parcel of land. Not saying it isn’t allowed by law – I’m sure it is. But that doesn’t make it smart or desirable. Or good for the people who live near it. And that’s that. It’s hard to legislate intelligent design, but intelligent design is what makes neighborhoods better. We’ve all got our role to play, and I guess mine is to push for better architecture instead of settling for bad choices.

  9. Bronxite says:

    I like it. This area needs taller buildings to keep pace with demand. Especially considering proximity to Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn’s transportation hub.

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