Archtober Building of the Day #21
Runner & Stone
285 Third Avenue
Karla Rothstein and her partner Sal Perry are Latent Productions. They, along with Baker Peter Endriss served up a very nice helping of both delicious snacks and spiffy new architecture on yesterday’s Archtober tour. With a full tour of enthusiasts and architects, Karla and Sal described their self-initiated process of design, development, and construction management. They first prototyped, then fabricated the puffy custom concrete blocks that evoke the sacks of flour waiting to become bread that are the design hallmark of the restaurant, Runner & Stone, in Brooklyn.
Archtober Building of the Day #18
Navy Green Supportive Housing
40 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn
Architecture in Formation
The design is “not subtle,” said Matthew Bremer, principal at Architecture in Formation, of the design of the Navy Green Supportive Housing Facility in Brooklyn. The bright red, corrugated-metal facade references the neighborhood’s brick townhouses, and also the sea of red brake lights on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, visible from the site at night. The corrugated metal gives the building an industrial look and responds to the “grittiness” of the Brooklyn Navy Yard down the street. This bold building is one of four towers in the larger Navy Green development.
Over the weekend, AN joined an Open House New York on a tour of the under-construction Empire Stores warehouse in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The old coffee bean warehouse was built in the 1870s, but has been sitting empty along the East River for decades. By next fall, though, the Empire Stores will have been transformed with all the Brooklyn-type fixings you’d expect. Yes, there is an artisanal Brooklyn market featuring local purveyors. And office space for tech and creative companies. And cafes, restaurants, and beer gardens. Included in the mix is also a rooftop public park and a museum focused on New York City‘s waterfront.
Archtober Building of the Day #9
58 Kent Street, Brooklyn
Ole Sondresen Architect
“Nothing is better than doing nothing.” While this may be the maxim that many of us live by on lazy Sunday afternoons, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn it applies to the design philosophy of Norwegian carpenter-turned-architect Ole Sondresen. During today’s tour of the Kickstarter headquarters, Sondresen demonstrated how this sustainable principle guided his design process.
All the top names in New York City architecture are vying for a piece of Brooklyn Bridge Park, but whether any of their designs will be realized still remains to be seen. As community groups try to block Mayor de Blasio’s controversial plans to bring affordable housing to Michael Van Valkenburgh‘s celebrated park, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has unveiled 14 design proposals for two coveted development sites on Pier 6. Those proposals were unveiled just hours before a Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation meeting that was packed with community members voicing their strong opposition to any new development in the park.
With tens of millions of dollars, New York City hopes to jumpstart a transformation of Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood into a hub for artists and tech companies. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the city is spending $100 million to transform part of the Brooklyn Army Terminal—an old navy-supply hub—into space for light manufacturing. That investment is just one piece of the millions of dollars flowing into the neighborhood from real estate investors.
While the money will be significant, giving new life to Sunset Park’s industrial corridor will take more than artisanal pickles and startups. It will take great public space and significant improvements to the neighborhood’s streetscape. At this point, however, it’s not clear if that type of investment is in the cards.
As AN covered earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio’s plan to bring affordable housing to Brooklyn Bridge Park has received steep opposition from local groups in neighboring Brooklyn Heights. They contend new housing development will eat up public space and that under-market housing would not provide necessary funding for park maintenance. Under a Bloomberg-era plan, revenue from private, market-rate development would help cover upkeep at the Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates-designed park. Under de Blasio, 30 percent of the two proposed towers for the park–one 31 stories and the other 16–would be subsidized. The groups opposing that plan have now formalized their opposition against it.
In the decade since it was rezoned, Downtown Brooklyn has grown up in a big way. Just look at its skyline and the new apartment towers and hotels that call it home. The open air between those buildings will soon be filled because development isn’t slowing down—it’s just getting started. But the next decade of change in Downtown Brooklyn could offer much more than the first. That’s because as new buildings rose, the area’s street-level never kept pace: public space is still scarce and underused, streets are hard to navigate and dangerous, and educational and cultural institutions have been disconnected. Today, however, Mayor de Blasio announced strategies to change all that by injecting the booming district with new (or refurbished) parks, redesigned streetscapes, new retail, and better connections between its many cultural and educational institutions.
Winners of the 32nd Annual Awards for Excellence in Design were announced last night at the Thomas Leeser–designed BRIC Arts Media House in Brooklyn’s emerging Cultural District. Mayor Bill de Blasio was on hand to honor the winning projects, which were selected by the city’s Design Commission. “While Brooklyn is my home borough, I am proud to be awarding a diverse group of projects representing all five New York City boroughs,” the mayor said in a statement. “This year’s winners exemplify the Design Commission’s mission to enhance every New Yorker’s quality of life through public design, regardless of their size or location of the project.” The 10 winning proposals are all unbuilt, but two special recognition awards were awarded to Tod Williams Billie Tsien’s LeFrak Center in Prospect Park and Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.