Search results for "Brooklyn"

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Floating an Idea

Kickstarter campaign for a floating bridge from Brooklyn’s Red Hook to Governors Island
The Citizen Bridge will allow New Yorkers to walk on water over a leisurely six-block span from the piers of Red Hook to Governors Island. Think of it as an engineered version of the sandbar by which Brooklyn farmers once walked their cattle across Buttermilk Channel at low tide. A four-year adventure now in its seventh prototype, the floating pedestrian bridge is designed in its latest iteration from angular blocks of Styrofoam planked with plywood, fastened together and anchored at regular intervals for stability. The last prototype, the Superblock, withstood its first experiments in not plunging its inventor into the river. Pioneered by artist and designer Nancy Nowacek (full disclosure: a former Metropolis colleague and friend), its Kickstarter campaign launched last week evokes the spirit of invention that created the New York City subway system, except its creator doesn’t aspire to capitalize on alternatives to the dreary transportation of the day. The Citizen Bridge appeals to the collective power of residents to reshape the city and reclaim their relationship to the waterfront. “There should be space in waterways policy for imagination and innovation beyond navigating vessels,” Novacek said. Novacek is working with teams of structural and marine engineers from Thornton Tomasetti and Gloston, as well as architects, environmental lawyers, and sundry New York City bureaucrats and citizens to test the floating devices and navigate regulatory issues. The project has been buoyed by residencies on all sides of the East River, among them a current one at Eyebeam in Sunset Park, as well as at the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program in DUMBO, a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Swing Space residency on Governors Island, and a Recess studio at Pioneer Works in Red Hook. The $25,000 crowdfunding campaign will pay for a 100-foot proof-of-concept from Brooklyn Bridge Park to a temporary anchorage platform and back. To accommodate the final 1,200-to-1,400-foot installation, for one day each year, maritime traffic would be rerouted around Governors Island as a part of a summer celebration of the waterways. “The goal of the project writ large is to get people to turn back towards the water,” Novacek said, “and to think broadly about what it means to be living in a coastal city, all of the ways in which the water will affect us, and all of the ways in which we can learn to come to terms and cope with that.” The system, which could eventually cost more than one million dollar to complete, might be capable of being shipped and deployed in other locations around the world.
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Brooklyn's Landmarks Preservation Commission has given the green light

Brooklyn’s first skyscraper over 1,000 feet given approval
Late last year, AN picked up a trail that SHoP Architects were planning a "super skinny supertall" skyscraper set for 9 DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn. Now, the project has finally gathered some momentum: it's been granted approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). According to 6sqft, the LPC showered the project, which is being back by Michael Stern’s JDS Development and the Chetrit Group, with compliments. They reportedly described the project as “flawless” and “enlightened urbanism at its best.” Developers had to tread carefully, considering the proximity of the skyscraper to one of Brooklyn's historic architectural treasures. Occupied most recently by JP Morgan, the development is giving the landmarked Classical Revivalist Dime Savings Bank a new breath of life. In doing so, developers will turn the hall into a public and retail space and restore the lavish interior decor and ornate exterior marble facade. The LPC were inclined to comment that the restoration “improved the vision of this historic landmark” with one commissioning member remarking that it was "similar to the Parthenon sitting on the Acropolis.” You can find SHoP's LPC presentation here. To accommodate the skyscraper, which will sit adjacent the Beaux-Arts banking hall, developers are also asking for two local low-rise buildings to be demolished to make way. If (or rather when) realized, the skyscraper will be the boroughs first 1,000+ in height, rising to 73 stories high topping out at 1,066 feet. Hexagonal forms can be found throughout tower as an homage to the footprint of its neighbor. Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP Architects reportedly said how they wanted to put forward a different tower design compared to the slab-like high-rises also going up around the area. Subsequently, the skyscraper's facade at street level aims to evoke the fluted ionic columns of the Bank through reflective glass fenestration with bronze mullions alongside white marble columns. As the tower stretches upward, the bronze ribbons join grey spandrel and vision glass panelling. Here black metal is employed in a similar, linear fashion running up the building's facade. Set to be complete by 2019, SHoP's Brooklyn high-rise will house around 500 apartments, all available to rent. In this selection, a range of luxury condos will be thrown in while 20 percent will be kept below the market rate.
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NYC City Council approves neighborhood-wide zoning changes for Brooklyn’s East New York
East New York is officially the first neighborhood under de Blasio to be totally rezoned. Yesterday, the New York City Council approved the East New York Community Plan (ENYCP) by a 45-1 margin. Because the ENYCP abides by the mayor's just-passed affordable housing and zoning initiatives, the eastern Brooklyn neighborhood is viewed by many as the first proving ground for the mayor's ambitious reforms. The primary goals of the plan are to create more affordable housing and spur economic development. The ENYCP is part of Housing New York, the mayor's initiative to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing. ENYCP covers 190 blocks and is the first plan to apply Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), a suite of new zoning rules that require a certain percentage of new housing be designated as permanently affordable. In East New York, however, affordability would go deeper than MIH minimum thresholds: NYC Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD) says that any project it backs in the neighborhood will be entirely affordable. Units will be available to families making between 30 and 90 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI): $23,350 to $69,930 for a three-person household, respectively. 1,200 apartments will be constructed over the next two years, and HPD anticipates that more than half of the approximately 7,000 units developed in the neighborhood over the next decade will be permanently affordable. Lured by new housing, the city estimates that more than 19,000 new residents could move to the neighborhood in the next 15 years. The plan that sailed through the City Planning Commission, the penultimate approval body, in late February is slightly different than the one that the council passed. The council's modifications added more protections for displacement of current residents, tenant protections from harassment, promises to secure housing for the homeless, and additional community services like job skills training. The city will also spend $267 million on infrastructure improvements, including a new park and school.  
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Rockwell Group–designed Imagination Playground opens in Brownsville, Brooklyn
Local students and community members joined NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, City Council Member Darlene Mealy, and David Rockwell, founding principle of Rockwell Group, for the opening of the Imagination Playground at Betsy Head Park in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Although the concept derives from adventure playgrounds and similar philosophies of unstructured play, the Brownsville Imagination Playground is technically the first permanent one of its kind in Brooklyn, and the second worldwide. (The first, also designed by the Rockwell Group, opened in 2010 at the Burling Slip in Manhattan). The $5.05 million project was influenced by tree houses, a foil to the monolithic blocks of high-rise public housing for which Brownsville is best known. A curved ramp wends its way through mature trees, while blue foam blocks, cut into funky shapes, along with water and sand, are tools for children to collaborate, build, or create by themselves. Traditional play elements—slides swing sets, chess tables, and a basketball court—round out the program. A year before the Burling Slip playground opened, Rockwell Group tested the designs in Brownsville with former NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. David Rockwell elaborated on the process: "When we were asked to do a second Imagination Playground, it gave us a chance to do a couple of things from a design perspective: One, these London Plane trees were incredible, they were a landmark that was important to preserve. We were able to create a path that weaves around the trees. Like the lower Manhattan playground, it's a playground you can see from 360 degrees. It's really a community space." https://www.flickr.com/photos/136339520@N03/25924630244/in/dateposted-public/ This reporter dodged zooming children and risked limb (well, ankle—platform sandals were a bad choice for this assignment!) to give you, dear readers, a panoramic view of the park from the bridge. (Look closely at 0:55 in the video above and you can see another local landmark, the Kenneth Frampton–designed Marcus Garvey Village.)
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Brooklyn-based studio embraces topophilia to craft quilts out of city streets
Brooklyn-based Haptic Labs has created some strikingly beautiful polysilk and cotton quilts with hand stitched topographical accents.

The designs include coastal motifs from Nantucket to Australia, and city terrains that began as a tribute to designer Emily Fischer's mother Peggy who started to lose her eyesight from complications of macular degeneration. The first Haptic Lab quilts were meant to be used as tools for the visually impaired, and everything the studio designs is inspired by the tactile over the ephemeral:

Haptic designs counter the rapid digitization of our lives by privileging the real, physical world our bodies occupy. Like a cane that safely guides someone down the sidewalk, our projects serve as tools for sensation. We make intricate quilts, kites, furniture, and environments that combine new technologies with traditional craft techniques—infusing a sense of play and timelessness into everything we make.
The City Quilt series employs subtle white-on-white stitching to inscribe a city's streets into fabric. The queen-sized City Quilt for the studio's home borough covers Coney Island through Greenpoint, and, like the other quilts in the series, is stitched in India, and is made of 100 percent cotton. The result is an intricate and subtle homage to 12 major metros, five of which are pictured below: The newest collection, debuting at the Architectural Digest Design Show in NYC, includes faceted maps of the world made in partnership with the Buckminster Fuller Institute, using Architect Richard Buckminster Fuller's original Dymaxion drawings.
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Renderings revealed for impending transformation of Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 77
These days, the Brooklyn Navy Yard's looking ship-shape: Green Manufacturing Center, Dock 72, Steiner Studios, and Admiral’s Row are undergoing redevelopment. Now, the Navy Yard's largest building, Building 77, is in the midst of a top-to-bottom renovation, and there are new renderings of what the space will look like, inside and out. The one-million-square-foot building, a former ammunition depot, will include 16,000 square feet of rooftop space and eight 1,200-square-foot terraces. The top two floors, branded as The Beacon, offer stellar views of Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan, 11-foot ceilings, and 140,000 square feet of commercial space, Brownstoner reports. Due to the Navy Yard's large size and distance from rail transit, there's an internal transit system in the works: a two-loop shuttle service will bring workers to nearby subways and the LIRR. The best part? Shuttles will have free wifi. For the bike-inclined, seven Citi Bike stations will be installed. A 1,600 space parking lot is the main concession to car culture. If ease of access is not enough to entice potential visitors, then the promise of Nova lox and herring in cream sauce by legendary appetizing store Russ & Daughters should lure the Jewish soul food–loving masses. Russ & Daughters is the anchor tenant of Building 77's 60,000-square-foot food hall, according to leasing documents released by the Brooklyn Navy Yard. To sweeten the deal for not-in-Brooklyn business owners shopping for new space, Building 77 is participating in the Relocation and Employment Assistance Program (REAP), a New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) program that gives business income tax credits to businesses that are currently based below 96th Street in Manhattan, or outside of New York entirely, that are bringing jobs to the outer boroughs (and some areas above 96th Street). When all construction is complete, it's estimated that the Navy Yard will employ 16,000 and have a yearly economic output of $2.35 billion. Take a look at the gallery below to see more images of Building 77's impending transformation:
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Semi-Permanent Ink: Artist Charlotte Mann collaborates with Wolf Gordon on art installation in Brooklyn
Wolf Gordon's impressive Wink surface can turn any wall into a dry erase board. The design possibilities are endless considering Wink is completely translucent and can be applied to any color paint, wood, metal, or patterned wall covering without changing the original look. U.K.–based artist Charlotte Mann created a site-specific, large-scale installation at the Gowanus Souvenir Shop using the product that is on view until March 13. The 1:1 scale drawing is different from her typical pieces, which are much more permanent. Mann said that, "Using dry erase as a medium actually made things easier because I could change my mind, and allowed me to improvise." A portion of the installation has been photographed and reproduced as a limited-edition digital wall covering that is for sale at Gowanus Souvenir Shop, 543 Union Street, in Brooklyn. View a time-lapse video of the project below:
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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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In gentrifying Brooklyn, illicit luxury housing is sprouting from community gardens
Larceny and deed fraud are on the rise, and those with a mind for leaving confusing trails of paperwork are profiting from illegitimate purchases of land. A classic case of this can be found on Maple Street in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn. https://vimeo.com/6258261 According to a report by The Nation, the area became a tranquil community space in the summer of 2013. Using a lot no bigger than one-eighth of an acre, local residents constructed vegetable patches and seating areas that successfully brought people together to make use of a shared space. The residents' retreat however, was short-lived. The owners,  Joseph (Joe) and Kamran (Mike) Makhani, apparently have a history of using illegitimate signatures to gain property and have even been to prison in the past for selling homes they did not own. Their company name, H.P.D., LLC, is quite similar to the government agency, NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). When questioned in the video above, Joe Makhani said, "if the client is stupid, that's not my problem." Cut to 2014 and the Makhanis show up and start destroying the lot that the residents had carefully made. Ignoring calls to stop, they only do so when the police turn up demanding a court order to prove ownership. The Makhanis promptly left after no document was produced. So what of the significance of this debacle? The sad truth is that these ordeals are cropping up more and more with cases being becoming increasingly complex with name irregularities making documented selling and purchasing of land harder to find. "No one is talking about it, but we're seeing this every day," said Sonia Alleyne told The Nation on behalf of the Department of Finance. "I don't think anyone realizes how big this story is." The ordeal features all the tell-tale signs of larceny and deed fraud. The initial purchase of land from the nephews of the deceased owners for $5,000 (an incredible and questionably low price); Social Security numbers failing to match up; spelling "mistakes" (McKany rather than Makhani); illegible notary names and the fact that the license number isn't even present; traits that, in the City of New York Sheriff Joseph Fucito's eyes, scream fraud. Anyone attempting to investigate ownership/sale history of the land, it seems, is lead down rabbit hole after rabbit hole. Sheriff Fucito stated that 15 deed-fraud arrests were made in in the last year, and that (as of August 2015) his office was on the trail of over 1,000 cases. Gardens in Bushwick and Crown Heights have likewise found themselves embroiled in similar conflicts. Fucido believes that many fraudulent cases go undetected and that the real number of cases is much higher. Why the sudden rise in deed fraud? Gentrification may be partly to blame. Brooklyn residential prices are increasing at an alarming rate, and land with debatable ownership is the perfect target for fraudsters. Experts such as Christie Peale, executive director of the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, say that paperwork is deemed legitimate all too easily. "The problem is this open process that allows people to just walk in and file false instruments," said Peale.
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Jeanne Gang’s fire station brings civic design to deep Brooklyn neighborhood
Chicago-based Studio Gang is designing a modern fire station for the Brownsville community in Brooklyn. The two-story, precast concrete structure, to be built on a vacant lot at 1815 Sterling Place, includes bright red accents as the facade pulls away from the street plane. The so-called Fire Rescue 2 facility "is intended to become a tool for training, enabling FDNY Company 2, an elite force of firefighters and specialized rescue workers serving the people of New York for nearly a century, to stage and simulate a wide range of emergency conditions in, on, and around the building," according to a project description from Studio Gang. This training program inspired Jeanne Gang, the firm's principal, in designing the building. "During emergencies, the Company must often utilize voids in buildings," the firm stated, "whether creating them to let heat and smoke out of a structure or locating them as a means of escape." The structure's design responds with its own voids demarcated in red that reveal windows, staircases, and a second-floor terrace. The facade of the 19,000-square-foot structure will be built of precast concrete and red glazed terracotta tiles. The 46-foot-tall structure is meant to respond to the scale of neighborhood buildings. Gang organized the fire house around a central interior that "enables the team to practice rescue scenarios that mimic conditions common to the city." The space is a sort of modern recreation of balconies, bridges, doorways, ladders, and stairs that the firefighters might encounter in the city. The void dually allows air and light to penetrate deep into the structure, enhancing the living quarters for the firefighters. While the facade's jagged geometry and bright color conveys the structure's purpose and sense of urgency, the interiors are designed to help firefighters cool off. Inside, a kitchen forms the hub of social life for the firefighters, adding another layer of heat to the project's design. Plenty of green space, including a backyard and open-air porches, allows the firefighters to cool off when not on duty. Studio Gang is working with SCAPE / Landscape Architecture on the project. The building also includes several sustainable gestures such as a green roof, geothermal HVAC system, and a solar hot-water system. Fire Rescue 2 is programmed to include office space, dormitories for firefighters, a kitchen, exercise rooms, training space, and storage. "With its adaptable spaces, environmental approach, and civic scale, the new Rescue 2 firehouse is both a neighborhood fixture and important piece of infrastructure, supporting a highly trained corps who safeguard those who call New York home," Studio Gang stated. Permits for the project were filed in October 2015, according to real estate watch-blog New York YIMBY. The project is estimated to be complete in 2017. In July 2015, the design was honored with an Award for Excellence in Design from the New York City Public Design Commission. Elsewhere in New York, Studio Gang is working on a major expansion to the American Museum of National History and an embattled condo tower along the High Line called the Solar Carve. The firm has opened a New York office to handle the increased workload. Also, don't miss AN's exclusive interview with Jeanne Gang while kayaking the Chicago River here.
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High in Brooklyn
Brooklyn skyline with new towers.
Courtesy KPF

For 80 years, buildings in Brooklyn followed a local rule: Rise no taller than the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower at 1 Hanson Place.

Then, a 2004 rezoning of downtown Brooklyn allowed for taller construction. In 2009, GKV Architects’ 51-story, 515-foot-tall Brooklyner broke the height barrier, besting the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower by three feet and 14 floors. In 2014, SLCE Architects’ 53-story 388 Bridge Street stole the high crown, rising 75 feet above the Brooklyner to become the borough’s tallest. SLCE’s newest Brooklyn building, the Ava DoBro, tops off at 575 feet to beat its sibling.

The slowly rising bar will be soon be shattered by a spate of tall—possibly supertall—new towers. It is rumored that SHoP will build a 90-story, 1,000-foot-tall residential tower at Fleet Street and Flatbush Avenue. It is confirmed that Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) will unleash a 600-foot-tall, approximately 40-story tower at 420 Albee Square. The 400,000-square-foot building will be the first nonresidential high-rise in downtown Brooklyn.

420 Albee Square, left, by KPF, and SHoP Architects planned 1,000-foot tower, the tallest in Brooklyn.
Courtesy KPF; SHoP Architects
 

The rezoning was supposed to create 4.5 million square feet of Class A office space in downtown Brooklyn. But, last year, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (a local development corporation) reported that only 250,000 square feet of office space has been built.

Elie Gamburg, director at KPF and lead architect on 420 Albee Square, echoed the partnership’s findings, noting that, so far, the rezoning has produced only residential towers.

KPF, he said, capitalized on a “trophy” corner to create “something of great impact, to really accentuate the verticality” of the building. Though the structure will be bound on all sides by other buildings, the prow-like curve of the facade, visible to travellers coming over the Manhattan Bridge and down Flatbush Avenue, will make a “full gesture to mark the project from those vantage points.”

Usually, a tower this size sits on full or half block sites. In Manhattan, this building’s floor plate would be 30,000 to 40,000 square feet, though 420 Albee Square’s floor plate is 16,000 to 18,000 square feet. “We developed a small floor plate with an off-center core to provide a big floor plate feel,” firm principal James von Klemperer explained.

When asked if there was anything particularly Brooklyn about this tower, Gamburg mused on stereotypical Brooklyn design—exposed brick, Edison bulbs, and converted warehouses. He drew a thread between the borough’s penchant for the past, its industrial legacy, and the cultural logic of late capitalism. “[We have] moved from a nostalgic idea to what the model for the city will be in the future. The office building achieves a new warehouse typology as a ‘warehouse for work.’”

Gamburg sees a reciprocal relationship between the building’s success and the success of the street. The frontage on Albee Square (Gold Street), across from the (COOKFOX-designed) retail development City Point, would be a prominent place for the lobby. Yet the lobby is positioned away from Albee Square so it doesn’t kill a vital retail strip.

Though Gamburg predicts that KPF’s tower will be a centerpiece of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, he concedes, “great skylines are really the contribution of many players. It’s not a load that one building can carry on its own.”

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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.