Nano-scale Interventions

Rogers Partners reveals a futuristic factory for the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Architecture East News
The interior of Building 20 will see new office and manufacturing spaces slotted around the interior's perimeter. (Courtesy Rogers Partners)
The interior of Building 20 will see new office and manufacturing spaces slotted around the interior's perimeter. (Courtesy Rogers Partners)

A 150-year-old shipbuilding factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard is getting ready for a second life as the East Coast headquarters and production center for the nanotechnology company Nanotronics. Rogers Partners has revealed plans to convert the Navy Yard’s two-story Building 20 into a manufacturing hub by slotting flexible “pods” behind the building’s historic brick facade.

The renovation of the 34,000-square-foot building will gather spaces for design, engineering, and fabrication under one roof. Nanotronics aims to create an all-in-one platform for product development and to speed up the traditional research and development approach.

Rendering of an interior of a warehouse office space

The production spaces and offices would be segregated into climate-controlled “pods.” (Courtesy Rogers Partners)

Rogers Partners worked around the spatial constraints of the long, narrow industrial building by clustering pod spaces around the boundary walls, leaving the center of the building open. A two-story public gathering space will run the length of the building and leave the jumble of historic beams and trusses exposed, while a figure-eight of second-story catwalks will crisscross the gap. At 300 feet long and only 88 feet wide, the design team kept the center of the ground-floor clear to leave as much space for circulation as possible.

The milling and assembly spaces, and technology, sales, and development offices have been laid out on the first floor. The second floor will hold offices for Nanotronics’s upper management as well as the engineering and design groups; the upper-level pods have been skewed and rotated to carve out walkways on top of the workspaces below.

Diagram of a long rectangular building

An exploded axonometric diagram of how the pods will be installed. (Courtesy Rogers Partners)

Why use a modular pod system? The need for climate-controlled and soundproofed workspaces, combined with the building’s tight programmatic requirements, meant that the fabrication components had to be isolated from the office spaces, and vice-versa.

The new Building 20 is only one piece of a rapidly growing Navy Yard revitalization, as the campus is on track to double in size by expanding production facilities vertically.

Rogers Partners expects the $11.4 million renovation of Building 20 to be completed within a year.

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