686 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, New York
Designer: Frederick Tang of deFT Projects and Jarrett Pelletier
The site of Brooklyn’s new Greenlight Bookstore, on the corner of Fulton and South Portland streets, proved a mixed blessing. The lot’s awkward triangular shape suited the bookstore’s purposes, expanding the amount of street frontage it would have had on a traditional rectangular lot. But the interior of the 2,000-square-foot space, which formerly housed an insurance company, had to be wholly redone to create the spacious feeling sought by the bookstore’s owners, Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting. “Initially, we were hoping to be able to keep some of it, but it was divided into a number of small offices and conference rooms, nothing lined up, and the carpet was all industrial,” said architect Fred Tang of deFT Projects. “We ended up tearing out almost every partition.” They couldn’t tear out the large air shaft cutting vertically through the center of the space, however. “That was a major design challenge,” Tang said. Their solution was to add display shelving to the air shaft and paint it to look like an extension of the ceiling, reaching down into the store like a book-bearing stalactite. The rest of Greenlight’s books line the stained birch plywood shelves running along the store’s perimeter, leaving the interior as open and airy as Bagnulo and Fitting had planned.