Search results for "Brooklyn Cultural District"

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BOD #23

Archtober Building of the Day #23: Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Though it might be easy to mistake 300 Ashland for another trendy tower dotting the Brooklyn skyline, upon closer inspection it’s anything but ordinary. The sensitivity and vision of its design is remarkable, particularly when it comes to the way the tower interacts with its surroundings. 300 Ashland is centrally located at a unique triangular intersection in the heart of the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District, at the intersection of Flatbush, Ashland, and Lafayette Avenues. The mixed-use building will feature 379 apartment units, first floor retail space, and will also become the new home of a number of cultural tenants, including MoCADA, Brooklyn Academy of Music cinemas, and a new branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. 50,000 square feet of performance, gallery, archive, and program space will be integrated into the building for these organizations, effectively extending the BAM campus and creating a cultural hub for the community. This is part of the reason that the architects view 300 Ashland as a civic proposal, despite it being a residential building. As such, much attention was given to the way the building interacts with the street and the community. The success of the project relies on TEN Arquitectos' belief that all architecture is on some level public, regardless of program, and the architects prioritized the creation of public space around the project. The result is an open, inviting, terraced public plaza that acts as a civic space and welcoming area for visitors to the cultural organizations within. As Andrea Steele of TEN Arquitectos explained, “We could have built to the property line, which is the street, and we could have made the tower taller.” Yet instead of maximizing square footage, the architects worked with the developer to “give a piece of this project back to Brooklyn.” And by designing to take up less of the overall site footprint, 15,000 square feet were indeed given back to the city in the form of public space. Of course, the architects acknowledged that the project is a business and needs to make money—and with a clever tweak that moves the cultural spaces to the second floor while preserving street level entrances, the space for retail was maximized. At the time of its conception 14 years ago, there were no other towers in the area; the iconic Barclays Center had not even yet been planned. What was there, of course, was the historic 1 Hanson Place, better known to most as the Williamsburg Savings Bank tower. Since the historic tower was completed just prior to the Great Depression, it stood alone for more than half a century in an area that had been planned to support large–scale building projects. For TEN Arquitectos, respecting that building and its residents became a driving force behind the design of 300 Ashland. The façade shifts back to not only provide an additional terrace, but in doing so preserves the uninterrupted view corridor of the historic tower. Archtober did tour some of the small but bright and immaculately finished apartments, and take in some of the incredible views from the tower’s 33rd floor. We may not all be able to live there, but thanks to an inviting plaza and cutting–edge cultural space integrated in the project, we can all enjoy a piece of 300 Ashland. Join us Sunday at the Morris Jumel Mansion!
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TEN Arquitectos’ Brooklyn Cultural District Tower Approved by City Council
Yesterday, the New York City Council approved a 32-story tower designed by TEN Arquitectos that is set to rise on an empty parcel adjacent to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. As AN reported last November, the site is the last undeveloped city-owned lot in the district. The mixed-use project will include 300 residential units (60 which will be "affordable"); 50,000 square feet of cultural space to be shared by BAM Cinema, performance groups connected with 651 Arts, and a new branch of the Brooklyn Public Library; a 10,000-square-foot public plaza; and 15,000 square feet of ground-level retail. “Two Trees is grateful to the City Council for its support and proud to partner with the city and some of Brooklyn’s most innovative cultural institutions to advance the growth of downtown Brooklyn’s world-class cultural district,” said Jed Walentas, a principal at Two Trees Management, in a statement. “With cultural space, much-needed affordable housing, and a new public plaza, we will be transforming a parking lot into an iconic building with many public benefits.”
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Thomas Leeser Designs a Hotel for Brooklyn’s BAM Cultural District
bam_hotel_01 Even though Brooklyn has morphed into a hub of cultural activity, there has been a notable shortage of hotels to serve the spike in visitors, especially in south Brooklyn. But this will soon change. The New York Post reported that a new 200-room hotel, designed by Thomas Leeser, is in the works for the Brooklyn Downtown Cultural District, which recently saw plans for new towers by TEN Arquitectos. The hotel, with asymmetrical splits in the facade, will replace a five-story building at 95 Rockwell Place, and include a basement performance space, a rooftop bar, a banquet hall, and a restaurant that looks onto an outdoor arts plaza. It will be in a prime location—right next to The Theater for a New Audience and close to a 32-story mixed-use complex from Two Trees and a 50,000-square-feet cultural space that will be occupied by BAM, 651 ARTS, and the Brooklyn Public Library. Developer Second Development Services (SDS) predicts they will break ground next fall and complete construction within two years.
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80 Flatbush

Two new schools and a 74-story high-rise planned for Downtown Brooklyn
Brooklyn-based firm Alloy Development has unveiled new scheme in Downtown Brooklyn that will boast 900 housing units (200 of which will be affordable), two new schools, and 200,000 square feet of office and retail space. The architect and development company will also design the scheme. The project known as "80 Flatbush" is being bankrolled by the Educational Construction Fund (ECF), a department within the New York City Department of Education that deals with development projects. It is sited next to the Atlantic Terminal, the Brooklyn Cultural District, and Barclays Center. In addition to the office and retail space, 40,000 square feet of the development—what Alloy called in a press release "neighborhood retail"—will be included in the scheme, as will 15,00 square feet of "cultural space." The latter was made possible by transforming the Khalil Gibran Academy (an old Civil War infirmary which dates back to 1860). This will then become an extension of the BAM Cultural District. As per the timeline outlined by Alloy, construction is set to start in 2019, with the project being built in two phases. The first will incorporate the two schools, both of which will be designed by New York studio, Architecture Research Office. Also included in this phase will be a 38‐story triangular residential block, office, and retail building. Phase one is due to be complete in 2022. Phase two, on the other hand, will comprise a 74‐story residential, office, retail tower and the rehabilitation of a coterie of buildings at 362 Schermerhorn Street. Phase two is due to finish in 2025. “It's rare for a developer to come to us for feedback in the earliest stages of a project,” said Peg Breen, President of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, in a press release. “But Alloy did that, listened, and made preservation a meaningful priority.  We're very appreciative of their efforts. This project shows that development and preservation can work together and that investing in historic buildings makes economic sense.  We're pleased to support this important project.” 80 Flatbush is yet to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and so final approval has not yet been granted.
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Downtown Brooklyn Partnership releases new report on robust development in Downtown Brooklyn
On its tenth anniversary, the local nonprofit development corporation Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has released a report that details just how well the development of downtown Brooklyn is going. Downtown Rising: How Brooklyn became a model for urban development demonstrates how, since its 2004 rezoning, private investors have put more than $10 billion into Downtown Brooklyn. The report was commissioned by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and produced by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy at NYU. “Downtown Brooklyn has harnessed its determined capacity for creative change to undergo a true rebirth over the past decade,” said Tucker Reed, president of the Partnership. “This report demonstrates just how far strong civic leadership can go when it’s bolstered by smart public investment, and provides the first definitive account of how we came so far, so fast—and where we need to go from here.” At a panel hosted at NYU and moderated by Professor of Urban Policy and Planning Mitchell L. Moss last week, Reed, Joe Chan (executive vice president, Empire State Development Corporation), Regina Myer (president, Brooklyn Bridge Park), and Hugh O'Neill (president of economic consulting firm Appleseed) discussed the report and next steps for downtown Brooklyn. Since the creation of a central business district in the Group of 35 report, Downtown Brooklyn has transformed itself into a tech hub, a center of arts and culture, a nexus of higher education. Between 2000 and 2013, the district's population grew by 17 percent. The number of residents with a bachelor's degree nearly doubled, and median household income grew by 22 percent. Reed mentioned that, as part of its community development goals, the Partnership "is working on workforce development" to close a skills and opportunity gap among residents without a college degree. The report has five recommendations for continued growth which center on clearing barriers for development through incentives and flexible zoning, as well as greater investment in transportation, the arts, and public space:
  1. Downtown Brooklyn and the city should ensure that innovative new companies have room to grow through increased—and targeted—commercial office space investment.
  2. The city should learn from the 2004 rezoning of the area, which allowed flexible permissive zoning and land use policies and resulted in a surge in development. The city should avoid trying to achieve narrowly defined policy objectives by enacting overly detailed zoning restrictions and prescriptions.
  3. The city should continue to invest in innovative public space improvements, such as the Brooklyn Strand initiative and completion of Brooklyn Bridge Park, that make Downtown Brooklyn a more attractive place to live, work, invest, do business, and visit.
  4. Developers and property owners, non-profit organizations, and the city need to work together to ensure that cultural institutions, arts organizations, and individual artists can continue to play a vital role in the ongoing transformation of Downtown Brooklyn.
  5. The city needs to address long-standing gaps in the area’s transportation networks, including lack of transit access to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, difficulties in getting between the core of Downtown Brooklyn and the waterfront, and the scarcity of good options for travel between existing and new waterfront neighborhoods and growing concentrations of jobs along the East River.
What do you think: Will these strategies keep the neighborhood on its upward development trajectory, or is the celebratory document failing to consider downsides like the loss of affordable housing and the decimation of independent retail on Fulton Street?
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TEN Arquitectos’ mixed-use downtown Brooklyn building tops out
TEN Arquitectos' 286 Ashland Place, a 384-unit, 32-story mixed-use development in Downtown Brooklyn, has topped out. The building's 45,148 square feet of community space will host 651 ARTS, The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), and the Brooklyn Public Library. The New York– and Mexico City–based firm has a number of major projects in design and under construction. Their campus for Centro, a technology, design, and business university in their home city, opened in September 2015, while plans for the Mexican Museum and residential building at 706 Mission Street in San Francisco are moving forward. Last month, TEN Arquitectos revealed renderings of a luxury resort in the Cayman Islands. At 286 Ashland Place, 20 percent of the units in the building are set aside for affordable housing. The building will host 21,928 square feet of retail. Construction is expected to be complete this summer, YIMBY reports. The project is located within the Brooklyn Cultural District, a Fort Greene development plan anchored by BAM. The triangular lot, across the street from BAM and a block from Atlantic Terminal, fronts high-traffic areas on all sides. On the Flatbush Avenue side, ground-floor retail and a stepped plaza break up what could have been a monotonous street wall. The facade is reminiscent of the firm's Mercedes House, in Midtown West. There too, the facade is broken up by a nonstandard arrangement of windows and built-in air treatment units. Mercedes House's outstanding features are terraced cubes and snaking profile respond to the site's steep elevation. 286 Ashland Place has a more standard site, and relies on an origami-ed facade for visual interest from afar. Though it obscures a previously unobstructed view of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building the articulations of the facade draw the eye outward, towards the surrounding streetscape.
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The South Street Seaport fetes its new Cultural District with exhibits curated by James Sanders
On September 17th, New York artists, architects, and designers gathered in lower Manhattan to celebrate the newly anointed South Street Seaport Culture District. Conceived by The Howard Hughes Corporation (the Seaport's primary developer), exhibitions by the AIANY's Center for Architecture, the GuggenheimNo Longer Empty, and Eyebeam, among otherscreated programming in spaces damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The installations were complemented by live music, and food by Smorgasburg. James Sanders (of JS + A Studio) curated the event. Often maligned by New Yorkers for its tourist sensibilities, The Howard Hughes Corporation counters this perception by positioning the Seaport as a "cultural incubator," a destination for the arts that draws on the area's singular role in the city's economic and maritime history. At 181 Front Street, AIANY curated Sea Level: Five Boroughs at Water's Edge. The exhibition featured Elizabeth Fellicela's panoramic photographs taken on the riverfronts, inlets, and coastlines of New York City. Select images are paired with essays by urbanist and author Robert Sullivan. AIGA/NY curated an exhibition at 192 Front Street that focuses on the iterative nature of design across disciplines. No Longer Empty, a public art organization that curates temporary, site-specific installations in vacant spaces, commissioned Teresa Diehl: Breathing Waters, an immersive installation that draws on the Seaport's location near the confluence of the East and Hudson rivers. Visitors meander through curtains of water droplets fashioned from clear resin, lulled into a meditative state by the projections and sounds meant to simulate submergence. The South Street Culture District is part of The Howard Hughes Corporation's larger development vision for the area. The developers will invest approximately $1.5 billion to build up the South Street Seaport, and adjacent Pier 17, for residential and commercial use. Plans have met with fierce opposition from community groups and preservationists who claim the proposed developments are out of scale with the neighborhood. The events and exhibitions may not mollify opponents of the redevelopment, but they do provide a valuable public platform for the art and architecture in lower Manhattan. Programming at the Seaport runs through December 31st, 2015.
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Bernheimer and Dattner start work on BAM building as construction in Brooklyn’s art district kicks up a notch
As Downtown Brooklyn's skyline grows taller, denser, and a bit more interesting, construction is whirring along in the BAM Cultural District just across Flatbush Avenue. The latest project to break ground within the area is bringing the borough new cultural institutions, affordable housing, and well, architecture. It's the Brooklyn Cultural District Apartments. The 115,000-square-foot structure was designed by Bernheimer Architecture and Dattner Architects with some landscaping accoutrement by SCAPE. The mixed-use building includes a restaurant along with the Center for Fiction and space for the Mark Morris Dance Group. Above the building's cultural podium are 109 apartments, 40 percent of which are below market-rate. "Extensive glazing at the lower floors highlights the cultural components and activates the pedestrian experience," Dattner explained on its website. "In-set balconies and double-height terraces articulate the upper base and tower." The Brooklyn Cultural District Apartments is intended to flow into the collection of high-design buildings and public spaces that are appearing one after the other on numerous sites around it. The building's restaurant, for instance, flows into Ken Smith's Arts Plaza which itself flows into the slightly cantilevering Theatre For a New Audience by Hugh Hardy of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture. Between the new apartment building and the existing theater and plaza is yet another planned building—a 200-room hotel with a jagged facade by Leeser Architecture. There's one more big project to mention on the block: FXFOWLE's 52-story mixed-income residential tower that is quickly ascending into Brooklyn's skyline. On the other side of Fulton Street from the tower is the BRIC Arts Media House, another Leeser project. Adjacent to all of this is the site of Francis Cauffman's very artsy and wavy medical center that is currently under-construction. And across Lafayette Avenue is TEN Arquitectos' 32-story, mixed-use residential tower that is beginning to make its ascent.
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Mayor de Blasio Goes All In on Urbanism in Downtown Brooklyn
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. These investments could be transformative in their own right, but are especially notable given Mayor de Blasio’s hesitancy to talk about the importance of urban design. To be clear, New York City’s commitment to safe, livable streets did not die when Mayor Bloomberg walked out the door. In de Blasio's New York, there have been new bike lanes and the like, but the mayor doesn't speak about these issues with the force of his predecessor. That seemed to change today as this plan goes all in on urbanism. “This is one of the city’s great success stories, and we have an incredible opportunity to take these stunning communities, parks, and institutions and knit them together,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “The investments we are making will help Downtown Brooklyn continue its rise, generate good jobs, and make this a more dynamic neighborhood to live and work.” The plan starts where Downtown Brooklyn starts—at the mouth of the Brooklyn Bridge. The City plans to transform the 21-acre patchwork of underused parks and public plazas between the bridge and Borough Hall into a “great promenade and gateway into Brooklyn.” The renovated space, known as the "Brooklyn Strand," will be designed to better connect with the area's transit hubs and the celebrated Brooklyn Bridge Park, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. This strategy follows a study commissioned by the Brooklyn Tech Triangle - a cluster of tech companies in Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and DUMBO. It was led by WXY. While not mentioned explicitly, Vision Zero factors into this plan though the City's strategies to make certain corridors more bike and pedestrian friendly. This includes a multi-million dollar transformation of the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge—a plan that was conceived under Bloomberg and is slated to break ground next year. Over on Willoughby Street, the City will "explore non-traditional roadway design that recognizes and accommodates the heavy use of the area by pedestrians." ARUP is working with the city on that redesign. The City has also pledged to build a new one-acre public park in Downtown Brooklyn and refurbish two others—Fox Square and BAM Park. The latter has been closed to the public for decades, but will be spruced up by WXY. Fox Square will be renewed by AKRF, with Mathews Nielsen. To boost business in Downtown Brooklyn, the City will offer-up some of its own ground-floor space to retail tenants. It may also consolidate its 1.4 million square feet to provide affordable office space for businesses. And there are plans to launch a consortium between Downtown Brooklyn’s 11 colleges to “better connect the tech, creative, and academic communities.” This is intended to best prepare students for jobs at Brooklyn’s Tech Triangle. The Economic Development Corporation will provide $200,000 in seed funding to kickstart that initiative. As part of this plan, the emerging Brooklyn Cultural District, which straddles the blurry border between Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene, could get its very own Businesses Improvement District (BID). The City said it will work with the over 60 cultural groups in the district to market the area as a preeminent cultural hub. Of course, at this point, these are all fairly vague proposals—just ideas on paper unbound by hard deadlines. But this announcement shows that as Downtown Brooklyn builds toward the sky, the City will refocus on the people walking, biking, studying, and working on the streets below.
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Towers by Thomas Leeser and Enrique Norten Break Ground in Brooklyn
Construction has started on two towers set to rise in the BAM Cultural District in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Unlike most new projects in the area, one of the buildings to rise off Flatbush Avenue, a 32-story structure designed by Brooklyn-based architect Thomas Leeser, will not be luxury apartments, but a 200-room boutique hotel run by Marriot. The tower is one of the most architecturally distinct high-rises to arrive in Brooklyn in quite some time, with prominent, asymmetrical carve-outs along its glass facade that make it appear as if someone—or something—has slashed through its skin with a knife. The hotel includes a performance space in the basement, a bar on the roof, and a restaurant at ground level that overlooks a new public plaza. The hotel is sited between the H3 Hardy-designed Theatre for a New Audience, which opened last year, and a mixed-use, 27,000-square-foot project designed by Dattner and SCAPE. Nearby on the corner of Flatbush and Lafayette avenues, Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos is building another 32-story tower on a wedge-shaped lot. According to AN's earlier reporting, that tower "includes approximately 50,000-square-feet of creative and cultural space that will be shared by BAM, 651 ARTS, and the Brooklyn Public Library. In addition, the tower will include approximately 23,000-square-feet of ground-level retail, as well as approximately 300 to 400 apartments, 20 percent of which will be affordable." Adjacent to the tower is a 16,000-square-foot plaza.
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What About Cultural Resiliency?
David Zwirner's Chelsea gallery designed by Selldorf Architects.
Jason Schmidt

The damage from Hurricane Sandy continues to resonate in New York. While devastated families and ruined homes grab the headlines, the economic impacts are complex and far reaching. One sector that could be drastically reshaped is the rarified world of art galleries. Far West Chelsea in Manhattan has solidified its position as the dominant gallery district in the city, and many galleries have commissioned architecturally significant spaces by leading firms, including Deborah Berke Partners, Selldorf Architects, Gluckman Mayner Architects, and Adjaye Associates, among many others.

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in the neighborhood, damaging the physical spaces and destroying countless works. Most have since reopened, but a second wave of damage is headed for Chelsea. One gallery owner recently told me that fine arts insurance premiums have skyrocketed, and that many insurers are not extending policies to ground floor or below grade galleries. The blue chip brand names—Gagosian, Zwirner, et al.—that own their locations will survive. Smaller galleries that rent their spaces will likely be devastated. These galleries are an essential element in the city’s cultural ecosystem, and smaller spaces provide venues for emerging artists (and sometimes architects) who will later show in more established galleries or museums.

The character of Chelsea will inevitably change, but likely not for the better if the galleries close or decamp for another neighborhood. New York’s galleries have migrated from many different neighborhoods over the decades, but in this ever more gentrified city it is difficult to imagine where they would end up next (remember when Williamsburg, Brooklyn, had a gallery scene?). If SoHo is the clearest precedent, New York will end up with more of what it doesn’t need: high-end boutiques.

The city’s garment industry has organized around preserving its footprint in the five boroughs, arguing that local clothing manufacturing is essential to maintain New York as a fashion capital. Time will tell if they can succeed, but they have set a precedent that others in the cultural community could follow.

Worrying over the future of New York’s art galleries might not seem like a high priority in the populist de Blasio era, but if there is one thing we have all come to learn in this constantly changing city it is that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

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Brooklyn Cultural Experiment
Courtesy Dattner and Bernheimer

A new mixed-use development, called “EyeBAM,” is the latest addition to Brooklyn’s burgeoning Downtown Cultural District. Dattner Architects and Bernheimer Architecture, along with SCAPE / Landscape Architecture, have been selected by the Mayor’s Office and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development to design a 12-story building, which will include 109 apartment units (40 percent affordable and 60 percent market rate) and a Craft-branded restaurant. It will also carve out space for two arts-and-science-focused organizations, Eyebeam and Science Gallery.

The building, equipped with entrances on either side, is designed to engage with neighboring cultural institutions. The restaurant will flow into the new Arts Plaza, which is the forecourt to the Theater for a New Audience, and in nice weather, will include outdoor seating to activate the space.

 

“We really view this site as a hinge of the heart of the Cultural District, and it was very important to create a lively pedestrian experience and open the building to the neighborhood,” said Bill Stein, principal at Dattner Architects.

To further accentuate the cultural space, the architects plan to implement a glazed exterior on the lower levels. The material palette, composed of terracotta and brick, is a nod to Brooklyn’s architectural history.

“We wanted to create a scale and texture to the building that was both contextual to the neighborhood but also gave the building its own identity,” said Stein. “A solid piece of architecture that has variation, color, and texture.”

 

Two non-profits will take over 27,000 square feet of space in the new building. They share much of the same programmatic needs and will “require flexibility for performance, new technologies for art and display, and a great deal of teaching,” according to Andy Bernheimer, principal at Bernheimer Architecture.

In-set balconies and rooftop terraces, designed by Kate Orff, principal at SCAPE, will provide both residents, cultural organizations, and visitors with ample open space.

The architects are seeking to attain LEED Gold certification. “We are looking, along with the developer Jonathan Rose, to use materials and building systems to make it a sustainable building,” said Stein.

The development is scheduled to break ground in 2015.