Search results for "Brooklyn Strand"

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Book it to Brooklyn

Claire Weisz on WXY’s reimagining of the Brooklyn Strand

From a pedestrian perspective, Downtown Brooklyn and its waterfront have an odd relationship. Despite the Brooklyn Bridge’s looming (literally) presence in DUMBO, the area’s potential to become an idyllic promenade and an active space has never quite been realized.

Now, however, New York practice WXY architecture + design—who specializes in planning, urban design, and architecture–is proposing to connect DUMBO, Downtown, and Brooklyn Bridge Park. As part of a public-private scheme, in collaboration with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP), WXY’s project, the Strand, sets about creating views within the site, giving it an identity while creating a place that puts pedestrians first.

WXY principal Claire Weisz said that the first thing her practice sought to do was to see what connections needed to be reestablished with a focus on who they should serve. “One of the main priorities of the Strand effort is to privilege pedestrians and cyclists,” said Weisz. “We [looked] at what spaces used to connect and then we sought a way to reimagine and provide resources to the public spaces and places that are valued by the people living, working, and studying in this area.”

Striking a dialogue and creating a “positive sense of journey” was another key aspect of the scheme. Working with Copenhagen artist group Superflex, a responsive and pedestrian friendly scene was established: Here, functional, yet visually inspiring routes were developed, evoking the cultural and historical aspects of the area’s neighborhoods from Fulton to Farragut and the Navy Yard.

Weisz also spoke of new subway connections and the potential to develop sites around infrastructure, adding how the Gateway to Brooklyn action plan concept “demonstrated the importance of approaching access holistically.” In light of this, Weisz proposed connecting Cadman Plaza East with the walkway off the Brooklyn Bridge, thus protecting pedestrians who “have to dodge traffic at Cadman Plaza West.”

Weisz noted how the dominance of car travel has led to the emergence of “unappealing leftover public space.” Here, she explained, a “continuous city fabric where walkable, bike-able, active streets connect Downtown Brooklyn to the Waterfront” is a necessity from an infrastructure perspective.

While improved circulation is a priority, visual connectivity is also on the agenda. Weisz plans to give landmarks visual precedence to celebrate Brooklyn’s history and improve wayfinding throughout the Strand. As a result, the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges are allocated framed views from within the Cadman Plaza Park, Anchorage Plaza, and Trinity Park, in order to reaffirm the sense of place throughout the Strand.

“The Strand’s identity is linked to not losing the layers of history that made Brooklyn what it is today but adapting them for today’s needs,” said Weisz, who added that creating a “cohesive” identity was discussed with stakeholders.

“The main challenge of the Strand has been demonstrating the potential of spaces that are currently invisible to the public,” said Weisz. “Whether it be spaces around, over, or under highways [or] a new vantage for accessing and experiencing the Brooklyn Bridge, residents can look forward to a rejuvenated place that realizes the potential for the Strand to better connect downtown Brooklyn.”

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Strand Plan

New renderings, community vision revealed for WXY–designed Brooklyn Strand
Today, 40 stakeholders released the Brooklyn Strand Community Vision Plan, a set of recommendations for developing almost 50 acres of public space that links the Brooklyn Bridge to Downtown Brooklyn. The plan focuses on broadening connectivity along the corridor by making the space more attractive and pedestrian-friendly, and improving access to the waterfront between the Navy Yard, DUMBO, and Downtown Brooklyn. In 2014, Mayor de Blasio announced a set of plans to further catalyze the growth of downtown Brooklyn. One of these plans was the Brooklyn Strand, now a disjointed set of parks, greenways, and plazas bisected by highway feeder ramps that present wayfinding challenges even to seasoned New Yorkers. Since then, New York–based WXY Architecture + Urban Design has led not-for-profit local development corporation Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Transportation, and over 250 community stakeholders through an intensive planning process to re-vision the Strand. Recommendations from the just-released community vision include enhancing non-car links between Borough Hall Park, Columbus Park, Korean War Veterans Memorial Plaza, Cadman Plaza, Commodore Barry Park, the Bridge Parks, and Trinity Park; a "Gateway to Brooklyn" adjacent to Brooklyn Bridge Park with a viewing platform; creating a permanent market at Anchorage Plaza; reopening the long-shuttered Brooklyn War Memorial to the public; broadening access to Commodore Barry Park; widening sidewalks; installing public art to animate under-utilized public space; realign Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) ramps to make the pedestrian experience less alienating. “The Brooklyn Strand Community Vision Plan is an exciting and ambitious effort to reconnect Downtown Brooklyn’s historic neighborhoods to each other, reinvigorate open space and improve access to the waterfront,” proclaimed New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) president Maria Torres-Springer. “The Plan is the result of an extensive and collaborative community engagement process, and it provides a promising roadmap to the future for this historic business district. At NYCEDC, we look forward to continuing our work with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, community stakeholders and elected leaders, and to making the reinvigoration of the Brooklyn Strand a reality.”
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Open secret

Open House New York opens 20 downtown Brooklyn sites during AIA weekend
People can roam about in the Brooklyn Point Sales + Design Gallery designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, the Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn by JDS Development, the Ashland by FXCollaborative Architects and SPAN Architecture, and many more old and new landmarks in Making Place: Downtown Brooklyn, organized by Open House New York. More than twenty sites are participating in the Open House event happening on June 23. A discussion about the change and transformation in the region featuring Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Regina Myer, FXCollaborative Design Director Gustavo Rodriguez and other industry leaders will take place at the ISSUE Project Room at 10:30 a.m., kicking off the day-long events. Downtown Brooklyn has undergone dramatic changes in the past two decades. It has now emerged as a new area for real estate and commercial development. The neighborhood is flooded with commercial creativity and upscale living. This event will offer an insider look at the transformed, up-and-coming district. Other participating sites include Brooklyn Strand Action Plan by WXY architecture + urban design, the New York Transit Museum, Polonsky Shakespeare Center and the Schermerhorn. The general public can purchase tickets to attend tours and panel discussions in those private buildings. Tickets can be purchased at this link.
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No Man's Land

Look inside the new Brooklyn outpost of The Wing, a women-only co-working network
Co-working network The Wing has opened the doors of its DUMBO, Brooklyn location, the first outside of Manhattan, and members can expect to find the company’s signature pastel pink hues, color-coordinated bookshelves, and eclectic mix of materials in play here as well. Founded in 2016 by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan, The Wing was envisioned as a series of members-only co-working and social clubs for women, and quickly hit $42 million in investments. While The Wing only opened its first office in October 2016 in the Flatiron neighborhood, the company has been eyeing a rapid expansion, especially after competing co-working company WeWork contributed to its latest funding round. “Expanding to Brooklyn was a no-brainer for The Wing,” said Gelman in a statement sent to AN. “A third of The Wing’s current members call Brooklyn home, and it is consistently one of the most requested locations. We are excited to welcome new women into The Wing’s community and continue the company’s growth.” The Brooklyn branch is housed at 1 Main Street, the neighborhood’s former tape factory and home of the notorious Clock Tower penthouse. Keeping true to the building’s industrial past, architect Alda Ly and interior designer Chiara de Rege have stripped the ground floor space to its bare bones and left the columns, beams and ductwork exposed, and poured pink concrete for a distinctive flourish. The former factory also provided space for a double-height central atrium, and the duo used the opportunity to carve out a second-level balcony space. De Rege has said that utility and beauty don’t always go hand-in-hand, but despite being completely open, The Wing DUMBO uses the seemingly-eclectic interior finishes to break up the club’s different areas. While a pink granite dining table in the atrium draws attention as a central meeting place, the green velvet of the nearby conversation pit easily separates it from the subdued palette of the rest of the space. Color was a major component of the design, and the blues, golds and pinks set the plush interiors apart from the stoic wood-and-glass aesthetic of The Wing’s competitors. The café areas are marked by their thinner, more finely detailed chairs and pedestal tables, but the color-coded library is instantly recognizable as such by the assortment of plush and rounded couches. That lending library, curated in partnership with New York’s Strand Bookstore, contains over 2,000 books by women authors, and each bookshelf swings open to reveal soundproof phone booths. The partnerships don’t stop with The Strand. All of the featured art is curated by and features solely local women artists, The Wing’s café and bar, The Perch, serves food from women-owned partners, and copies of No Man’s Land, an-house magazine launched last fall, are available throughout. A podcast room, vintage photo booth, meditation room and shower are all open for members, but The Wing has opened its reception and retail sections on the ground floor to the public. The DUMBO office might have opened on February 26th, but if you want to join, you’ll have to wait your turn; the waitlist to become a member is at 13,000 names and growing. The company's fourth location will be opening in Washington, D.C. sometime this spring.
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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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Under budget pressures, WXY reveals new ideas for long shuttered Brooklyn War Memorial
The band Barenaked Ladies famously speculated on what a million dollars could buy: a little tiny fridge filled with pre-wrapped sausages, K-cars, a woman's eternal, undying love, or fancy ketchups.  Well, this isn't the nineties anymore, and, as community leaders in Brooklyn are learning, seven figures will not be nearly enough to renovate and preserve the Brooklyn War Memorial. New York's WXY, lead consultants on the 2014's Brooklyn Strand and 2013's Brooklyn Tech Triangle master plan, led the design team and facilitated community visioning sessions for the memorial. The memorial renovation is a component of the "Brooklyn Strand," a project to unify the patchwork of parks, plazas, and green spaces between Brooklyn Bridge Park and Borough Hall. This month, the Mayor's Office released The Brooklyn War Memorial Feasibility Study to delineate proposed changes to the area. Spearheaded by the Cadman Park Conservancy, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, and the Borough President Eric Adams, community leaders are looking to raise $11.8 million by 2019 for the renovation. Adams has allocated $1 million to the project, but other politicians, businesses, and foundations will need to come forward with the difference. Though the memorial, in Cadman Plaza Park, sits near eight subway lines, is proximate to a year-round farmer's market, and is often surrounded by lunching office workers, its prime location has not helped with fundraising. So far, the conservancy has received a paltry $4,060 through a May crowdfunding campaign. WXY facilitated workshops with residents and community groups to generate ideas for the memorial and surrounding park space. Designed by New York's Eggers and Higgins and dedicated in 1951, the memorial honors the 300,000 Brooklynites who served in World War II. Due to lack of maintenance funds, the site has been closed to the public for the past quarter century. Currently, the memorial building contains offices and storage on the lower level, while the primary attraction, a Wall of Honor that displays the names of more than 11,500 borough residents killed in battle, occupies the main floor. The renovation of the 33,660-square-foot space would add a visitor's center, exhibition hall, and cafe to the lower level, and a rooftop terrace that can be rented out for events. Gentle slopes will flank the entrance, inviting Strand strollers to linger around the memorial. An ADA compliant entrance ramp at the main level and elevator are planned, as well.
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Strolling the Strand
Among the recommendations of the Brooklyn Strand concept is a market beneath the Brooklyn Bridge viaduct.
Courtesy WXY

For most of the last century, Downtown Brooklyn’s streets have formed a tangled knot that has confounded urban planners. Urban renewal beginning in the 1930s ripped out vast swaths of the borough’s urban fabric, putting back disconnected parks and plazas. Highway building campaigns tore at the street grid and ramps to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges complicate access to and from the waterfront.

In the summer of 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined a series of initiatives aimed at positioning the borough’s civic core as a technology hub called the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. Part of that plan—redeveloping a 21-acre expanse of parkland called the Brooklyn Strand—has come into focus with a new concept plan by WXY Architecture + Urban Design that gives shape to the community’s recommendations from more than 40 stakeholder groups and nearly a year’s worth of public input.

 
A parking lot at Borough Hall would be replaced by a retail pavilion with a park-like green roof (left). Existing structures in Cadman Plaza would be repurposed for education and retail (right).
 

The Strand links together a series of disconnected and underutilized green spaces to form two unified corridors—the Cadman Connector and the BQE Connector—between Downtown Brooklyn and the waterfront in DUMBO, creating safe and visually appealing streetscapes and parks from the heavy-handed planning mistakes of the 20th century.

“We want to rectify the mistakes of urban renewal,” WXY principal Claire Weisz told Curbed after a recent community board meeting. “We want to create a sense of identity for the Strand so it doesn’t feel like no man’s land. There are many opportunities to reimagine streets… And that would become the brand of the Brooklyn Strand.”

Redesigning streets around Borough Hall would bolster pedestrian and cyclist safety while adding new park space. One idea calls for burying a parking lot to create new park space on the surface. The ground plane rises up to form a retail space with an occupiable roof above. The design pedestrianizes the narrow Cadman Plaza West, bringing in a new streetscape and porous edges to the Korean War Memorial Plaza and the new Brooklyn Public Library designed by Marvel Architects.

The Brooklyn Strand concept calls for better connectivity between Downtown Brooklyn beginning at Borough Hall and the DUMBO waterfront.
 

In Cadman Plaza, significant renovations to another War Memorial creates a glassy learning center, overcoming accessibility challenges with a carved out entry plane incorporated into the landscape. At the tip of Cadman Plaza, dramatic earthworks create the “Brooklyn Eye” overlook space with dramatic vistas of the Brooklyn Bridge.

   
Left to right: The Brooklyn Strand would provide a unified landscape plan for a number of disconnected green spaces; An elevated berm would provide vistas of the Brooklyn Bridge; new streetscapes in Downtown Brooklyn would make the neighborhood more pedestrian friendly.
 

Where the grid erodes at the foot of the bridge, the Strand improves pedestrian flow to and from the waterfront with lighting and new retail at underpasses. A signature open market occupies space beneath the bridge viaduct’s enormous stone archways. These pedestrian corridors weave through small remnant spaces to create a legible path between the bridges. Five major new bike lanes are proposed, including implementing key portions of the Brooklyn Bridge Gateway Area Plan to remake bike lanes along Tillary Street.

In April, the plan’s BQE Connector portion will begin a round of community engagement initiatives with arts group Superflex, including public art installations. Before the larger plan can be implemented, however, the Strand must run a gauntlet of approvals from various city agencies and raise significant funds.

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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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Firing Up Brooklyn
Ryan Muir / Courtesy BRIC

It is no easy feat to retrofit a historic structure to house two arts organizations with vastly different programming and workspace needs. This was the challenge that LEESER Architecture faced, and recently tackled, after winning a commission five years ago to convert the 94-year old Strand Theatre into a robust, community-accessible arts facility in downtown Brooklyn’s emerging Cultural District. The new 60,000 square foot building is the new home to BRIC Arts | Media, a non-profit dedicated to arts and media programming, and UrbanGlass, an organization focused on the art of glass making.

“It is to serve as an anchor of the BAM Cultural District and of the larger vibrant and rapidly evolving areas of Downtown and Fort Greene, Brooklyn,” said Sofia Castricone, senior architectural designer at LEESER Architecture. “The strategy for the exterior of the project was to integrate elements of architecture, signage and exterior lighting to unify the building as an arts center, while maintaining the distinct identities of BRIC and UrbanGlass and to do so within the limited budget.”

 
Jenna Salvagin / Courtesy BRIC
 

The building is designed to invite the public through the placement of an “Urban Lobby,” which connects the building’s entrance to the sidewalk “to provide transparency to the vibrant activity going on inside,” said Castricone.

The interior is composed of a myriad of spaces to accommodate a variety of uses from studio work (from media production to glass blowing) and educational programming to art exhibitions and live performances. Emerging and mid-career artists can show their art in a 3,000 square foot gallery or in a smaller space, dubbed “The Project Room,” which is geared more towards video work. Perhaps, paying homage to one of Brooklyn’s iconic architectural features, LEESER created “The Stoop,” a large row of steps designed to function as a gathering and event space.

 
   
Jenna Salvagin / Courtesy BRIC
 

For UrbanGlass, the new building provides ample room for both studio work and exhibitions. Artists have access to 17,000 square feet of studio space, which also includes a state-of-the-art, temperature controlled “Hot Shop.” A gallery and retail shop are located right on the first floor—providing a direct link to the neighborhood to help the organization engage with the public.

“The purpose of the project was to expand BRIC and UrbanGlass to the vacant first and cellar floors of the Strand building, to reimagine the building’s street presence to signify it as an arts center, and to showcase the full diversity of programs and creative energy of the community-based activities that occur within,” said Castricone.

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Pictorial> Loew’s King Theater in Brooklyn, Before
There's an old expression that perfectly describes the current condition of the Loew's King movie palace on Flatbush Avenue: "regal rot." There's beauty in the decay, yet no one wants to see the the rot take the upper hand. At the moment the dank smell foretells the considerable work that lies ahead for the Houston-based ACE Theatrical Group, the developer selected by NYCEDC and Borough President Marty Markowitz to restore and operate the 1929 building. Despite the deterioration, many of the original decorative elements remain, from a surprising amount of plaster detailing, to crystal strands hanging form the chandeliers, wrought iron on the sides of the chairs, and gorgeous woodwork in the lobby. On completion, the $70 million project will open the Loew's doors for live theatrical events in 2013. Video courtesy NYCEDC:
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Silicon Borough
Brooklyn Strand.
Courtesy WXY

The Brooklyn Tech Triangle—an initiative seeking to turn the city’s most populous borough into a technology capital that rivals Silicone Valley—has taken another step forward. A consortium that includes the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, The Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the DUMBO Improvement District recently hired New York City firm WXY Architecture + Urban Design to develop a master plan geared toward fostering the growth of a technology-based economy. WXY principal Adam Lubinsky told AN about some of the measures the firm plans to implement.

“We’re calling it a strategic plan,” said Lubinsky. “There are so many elements of the plan that aren’t physical.” For example, in order to ensure that there is a proper work force in place, WXY calls for starting training programs at local universities to prepare students for the tech world.

Tech Triangle Innovation Hub.
 

Much of the scheme, however, does center on generating office space that meets the needs of tech firms. “There is a lot of demand for space, but not necessarily the right supply,” said Lubinsky. WXY is currently brainstorming ways to find and create conducive working environments for the industry.

Most of what Lubinsky told AN about the plan involves alterations to the urban fabric that will seek to create a more pleasant experience on the street while stitching together three districts that are currently separated by transportation infrastructure—Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The plan suggests changes to Columbus Park and Cadman Plaza. It inserts a café and new lighting into Cadman Plaza. It converts a parking lot at the southern tip of Columbus Park abutting Adams Street into a public park. This park also forms a link between two sides of Downtown Brooklyn.

Fulton Bridge.
 

One of the largest challenges for WXY is finding ways to make the wide, heavily trafficked roads, like Adams Street, more welcoming. One solution the firm has come up with is lining these vehicular thoroughfares with retail and restaurant spaces. “There is a real synergy between people who live in Brooklyn and people who want to work in Brooklyn. There is a holistic environment for living, working, and hanging out that is really amazing and we want to accentuate that,” said Lubinsky. The firm plans to add glass box extensions to one of the Metrotech buildings located on Flatbush Avenue. The transparent boxes will house retail spaces and a café.

WXY proposed the use of lighting to make the muscular spaghetti works of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE), the Manhattan Bridge, and the Brooklyn Bridge overpasses more inviting and easier to navigate. A similar approach was taken by Tillett Lighting Design and architecture practice KT3D with their 2008 permanent light art installation This Way, which illuminates the pedestrian access point beneath he Brooklyn Bridge.

Brooklyn Landing includes an observation balloon.
 

The plan also encourages the use of technology in the public realm. It establishes digital touch points, similar to those proposed in the NYC Payphone Design Competition, that feature interactive touch screens, and pervasive Wi-Fi.

The plan also focuses on improving transportation in the district. WXY proposed extending bus lines, two-way bike lines, and walkways. The initiative includes a ferry connection to be integrated into the final phases of Brooklyn Bridge Park. It also extends the B67 bus route, which currently terminates at York Street in Dumbo, through the Navy Yard to a connection with the J, M, and Z subway line in Williamsburg.

“This is a multidisciplinary, multi-dimensional strategic plan where physical components are tied together with transportation and real building design,” said Lubinsky. “The other elements, like training and getting the right kind of work force in place have made this a really interesting process. Making this area into a dynamic hub for technology is going to take a lot of efforts from different areas.”

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Service Denied

New York City is full of “ADA transit deserts” according to report
New York City’s subway system may have the most stops of any in the world, but many of them are inaccessible to the disabled and mobility-impaired. This month New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer published a report highlighting accessibility issues in the city's subway system and calling for immediate action. According to the report, “of the 122 New York City neighborhoods served by the subway system, 62 do not have a single accessible station.” Of the 62 stations that do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 55 are located in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.
These inaccessible stations are serving 199,242 residents with impaired mobility, 341,447 seniors, and 203,466 children. This amounts to a total of 640,000 residents who are “confined to neighborhood” as they cannot access the city’s subway network. They are restricted in terms of housing options, and those who are mobility-impaired also show a much lower labor force participation rate than the able-bodied. “Too many New Yorkers are left stranded by the MTA,” said Comptroller Scott M. Stringer in a statement. “Decades of underinvestment and neglect have real-life consequences. For every inaccessible station, there is a New Yorker who can’t get to work, pick up their children from daycare, or visit their doctors. It’s simple–a person’s livelihood should not be dictated by their mobility status, and we must take action immediately to address this crisis.” In light of this, the Comptroller supports Fast Forward, a plan proposed by the MTA and its President Andy Byford, which promises making fifty more stations ADA accessible in the next five years. It also assures that “no rider is more than two stops away from an accessible station,” across the five boroughs. However, the Comptroller recognizes the difficulty in funding a plan of that scale. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, ever at odds, have yet to agree to support the plan. Stringer urges the state legislature to introduce an $8 billion Transit Bond Act to fund the much-needed upgrades to the city’s transit system. Read the full report at this link.