Last August, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) unveiled 14 proposed designs for a pair of controversial towers it planned to build near the park's southern-most pier. Under a Bloomberg-era development plan, sites along the park would be leased to private developers to finance the upkeep of Michael Van Valkenburgh's 85-acre green space. These two towers near Pier 6 represented the last piece of the development puzzle. Proposals for the two sites came from some of architecture's heavy hitters like Bjarke Ingels, Morris Adjmi, Pelli Clarke Pelli, and Selldorf Architects. But now, nearly a year later, the BBPC has picked a design for the project by a firm not included in that original group: ODA Architecture. Unsurprisingly, the firm is sticking with its boxy aesthetic for its Pier 6 design. The taller of the two structures, containing 192 market-rate condos, rises to 285 feet. It features factory-style windows and triple-height cutouts punched into its facade. The smaller building tops out at 125 feet and has a mix of market-rate and affordable units, as well as a 75-seat pre-kindergarten. The height of both buildings has been lowered by 30 feet in response to public outcry over their size. Their size, though, has been just one of the controversies surrounding this development. A local group called People for Green Space sued to stop the plan after Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed to increase the percentage of affordable units within the project to 30 percent. The group argued that the inclusion of affordable housing went against the original funding scheme, and thus required an additional environmental review an amendment to the decade-old General Park Plan. People for Green Space and the BBPC settled this spring. At the time, the New York Times reported "the group was denied the environmental review, but it prevailed in its demand that the park corporation formally amend its plan." The agreement cleared the path for the project to move forward. It is being developed by RAL Development Services (RAL) and Oliver’s Realty Group. When asked why none of the original 14 designs, or architects, were selected for this project, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation told AN in an email: “The RAL/Oliver’s plan was determined to be the best proposal by the selection committee based on the strength of its financial offer, the affordable housing component, the inclusion of generous public amenities, and a design that demonstrates excellence and creativity in architecture and recognition of the surrounding context that inspires a welcoming entrance to the Park.” If the plan is approved by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Board of Directors, construction would start next spring and wrap up in Fall 2017.
Posts tagged with "Brooklyn Bridge Park":
When it opened in 2013, the Squibb Park Bridge that zigzagged between Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Bridge Park instantly became one of the most thrilling pieces of the waterfront retreat. The HNTB-designed pedestrian bridge was designed to have some bounce in it, so getting to the park was more than a typical pedestrian experience, it was a fun little adventure. At least for the humans voyaging across it—dogs hated it. The petrified, why-are-you-doing-this-to-me looks on their faces as the wood structure ebbed and flowed were haunting. But while the Squibb Park bridge may have seemed a little precarious, everything was surely fine. The movement was just part of the fun. The Brooklyn Bridge Park said so right on its website: "Walk across the award-winning Squibb Park Bridge and you may notice a little spring in your step. That’s because it was designed to be lightweight and flexible like the trail bridges in our state and national parks." See, totally stable. Well, maybe not. By last summer, the bridge wasn't just springing, it was swaying. So in August, the bridge was closed. That was supposed to be temporary, but the bridge is still off limits today. Back in February, the Brooklyn Paper reported that the structure needed $700,000 in repairs—nearly a quarter of the bridge's initial cost. Those repairs were supposed to wrap up in the Spring. So now Spring has arrived—almost peak Brooklyn Bridge Park season—and the bouncy bridge is still inaccessible. “At this point, because of the movement we notice, it would be overly optimistic to say we could solve this in two to three weeks," Regina Myer, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation told the New York Times. Engineers are apparently studying the structure's movements. The bridge is still expected to open later this spring, but no exact date has been given. And there has not been a full accounting of exactly what caused the problems. A spokesperson has said the issue could come down to a "misalignment." Park officials told the Times that the solution will include installing cross braces, which a park spokesperson said would make the bridge "a little less bouncy than it was before." One would hope.
In our recent story about the current development surge happening in and around Dumbo, we touched on the controversy surrounding the Pierhouse—an under-construction hotel and condo complex next to the Brooklyn Bridge. The Marvel Architects–designed building, which will help cover Brooklyn Bridge Park's maintenance costs, has riled up local residents who say it is blocking their views of the iconic bridge. The Pierhouse was expected to top out at 100 feet, but was pushed about 30 feet higher due to a bulkhead. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) maintains that the building's design is exactly what was presented to the community in 2013. But facing growing criticism, the BBPC went ahead and asked the site's developer to double-check that the building fully complied with the Brooklyn Heights Scenic View District. So at the end of January, the Department of Buildings filed a stop work order at the site so everything could be evaluated. Now, a few weeks later, work is expected to pick back up at the Pierhouse, but with a few concessions in regards to height. A spokesperson for the project told the website New York YIMBY that two parapet walls will be removed and the building will be lowered by 1.5 feet.
Over the weekend, AN joined Open House New York on a tour of the under-construction Empire Stores warehouse in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The old coffee bean warehouse was built in the 1870s, but has been sitting empty along the East River for decades. By next fall, though, the Empire Stores will have been transformed with all the Brooklyn-type fixings you'd expect. Yes, there is an artisanal Brooklyn market featuring local purveyors. And office space for tech and creative companies. And cafes, restaurants, and beer gardens. Included in the mix is also a rooftop public park and a museum focused on New York City's waterfront. “What we’re looking at creating is something that is not only unique to the history of these remarkable buildings, but also speaks to the culture of the neighborhood and this community,” said Jay Valgora, the founder of Studio V Architecture, the firm that is overseeing the transformation. With this type of project, the first task was to secure the building and bring it up to code. That meant laying a new floor, creating a new foundation, and repointing the massive nearly three-foot-thick masonry walls. There is also the issue of resiliency. The complex, which is actually seven buildings, sits right next to the East River and took in about seven feet of water during Sandy. Since the building couldn’t be lifted or moved, the most practical solution, explained Valgora, was to fabricate an "aqua fence" that could be stored in a nearby warehouse and deployed before of a storm. The idea is that there will be enough lead time to get everything in place. Valgora said the main challenge of this project was to bring light and air into a structure that was built to block out both—the warehouse doesn't even have windows, but rather arched openings and shutters. The firm wanted to create that type of sleek, airy space, while preserving the building's history. Along with new glass stairways, and a glass and steel rooftop addition, the firm is preserving much of the Empire Stores' masonry, yellow pine beams, and schist walls. Studio V's plan to cut an open-air courtyard into the center of the structure is designed to meet both needs of the project: create a light-filled, modern space while showing-off the structure's original details. “We’re going to create a public passage throughthe entire building that reveals and shows the nature of how it was made, as well that brings you into the 21st Century as you go to this rooftop park," said Valgora. As for the windows, the firm is installing large square panels that sit behind the arched frames to preserve the feel of the original facade. No additional openings are being cut into the structure and shutters are either being restored or replicated. The Empire Stores is one of the development sites along the Brooklyn Bridge Park that has been leased to fund its maintenance costs.
All the top names in New York City architecture are vying for a piece of Brooklyn Bridge Park, but whether any of their designs will be realized still remains to be seen. As community groups try to block Mayor de Blasio’s controversial plans to bring affordable housing to Michael Van Valkenburgh's celebrated park, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has unveiled 14 design proposals for two coveted development sites on Pier 6. Those proposals were unveiled just hours before a Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation meeting that was packed with community members voicing their strong opposition to any new development in the park. The RFP that the corporation issued in May called for two towers—one 315 feet and the other 155—that are 30 percent affordable. This plan has been met with plenty of opposition, and even a lawsuit, from local groups who claim the towers will block views, eat up green space, and not provide appropriate funding for the park. Under a Bloomberg-era deal, revenue from private development at the park is intended to cover its upkeep and maintenance costs. At the meeting, local residents asked the corporation to reevaluate that plan and pursue other forms of funding. Most were adamantly opposed to new residential towers at the 85-acre park. "This is about developer's greed," shouted one woman during the meeting who was quickly met with applause. There were two individuals with signs that read "Parks for All / Not Condo$ for a Few" and even kids stationed right in front of the corporation's members with homemade signs that read "Save Our Park" and "We Love Our Park." Ultimately, the corporation voted 10-3 not to revisit the funding plan. It will, however, complete a new environmental review of the site. As the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, if the lawsuit can be resolved, a decision on the site should be made by the end of the year and construction could start about year after that. The proposals for the pier, which were barely mentioned at the meeting, came from architects including Morris Adjmi, Pelli Clarke Pelli,Bjarke Ingels, Davis Brody Bond, and Selldorf Architects, among others. You can check out all 14 proposals in the slideshow below, which reveal a wide variety of tower aesthetics rendered with most of the standbys we've come to expect in modern visualizations—hot air balloons, regular balloons, and plenty of birds. Surprisingly, not a single kayak.
As AN covered earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio’s plan to bring affordable housing to Brooklyn Bridge Park has received steep opposition from local groups in neighboring Brooklyn Heights. They contend new housing development will eat up public space and that under-market housing would not provide necessary funding for park maintenance. Under a Bloomberg-era plan, revenue from private, market-rate development would help cover upkeep at the Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates-designed park. Under de Blasio, 30 percent of the two proposed towers for the park–one 31 stories and the other 16–would be subsidized. The groups opposing that plan have now formalized their opposition against it. According to the Wall Street Journal the park neighbors opposing the project filed a motion in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Friday to stop the city from selecting a developer for the project. The publication reported, "the suit being heard Friday cited the enormous popularity of the park, the growth of the surrounding neighborhoods, increasing traffic and overcrowded schools. It seeks to force the park corporation to redo a required environmental impact statement that dates to 2005. The suit also said the original plans required that housing be developed only if it was needed to pay for the park." In the meantime, Gothamist reported that the rising condos designed by Marvel Architects are already blocking views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Midtown Manhattan.
For over 120 years, the Municipal Art Society has been an important organization in New York City's efforts to promote a more livable environment and preserve the best of its past. It's successful preservation campaigns and advocacy for better architecture—such as its advocacy to rebuild a better Penn Station—are well known. Now the organization has announced its annual MASterworks Awards, and of the nine buildings selected this year as honorees, many are in Brooklyn, confirming that borough's continuing upgrading evolution. The Weeksville Heritage Center (Caples Jefferson Architects) has won the top honor, “Best New Building,” while “Best Restoration” goes to the Englehardt Addition, Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory (Scott Henson Architect). The “Best Neighborhood Catalyst” award will be given to the BRIC Arts Media House & Urban Glass (LEESER Architecture), and “Best New Urban Amenity” will go to LeFrak Center at Lakeside (Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects). Brooklyn Bridge Park (Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates) will be recognized as “Best Urban Landscape.” Additionally, this year’s MASterworks also recognized two new design categories. “Best Adaptive Reuse” will be awarded to The Queens Museum (Grimshaw Architects) and the NYC DDC Zerega Avenue Emergency Medical Services Building (Smith-Miller Hawkinson Architects) will take home the award for “Best New Infrastructure.” Finally, “Best Green Design Initiative” honors will be given to Edible Schoolyard at P.S. 216 (WORKac) and P.S. 261 School and Community Playground (SiteWorks Landscape Architecture). The MASterworks Awards, recognize projects completed in the preceding year that exemplify excellence in architecture and urban design and make a significant contribution to New York’s built environment.
As Brooklyn Bridge Park opens two new piers, a planned green space five miles south continues to sit empty. Work began on Bush Terminals Piers Park in Sunset Park in 2009—just months after Brooklyn Bridge Park got started—but has been behind construction fencing ever since. The park was slated to start opening last fall, but that did not happen. And it's still not clear when it will. The Brooklyn Bureau reported that community members are becoming increasingly frustrated with the delays and the lack of explanation they are getting from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). At a recent community board meeting, representative from the EDC reportedly said they are “close” on completing the first phase of the park. Ninety-five percent there, they said. The slow pace was blamed on problems with construction and permitting. When the park finally does open, the formerly brownfield site will offer tidal ponds, wetlands, recreational space, picnic areas, and sports fields designed by AECOM and Adrian Smith Landscape Architecture. There is also a sustainable comfort station by Turett Collaborative Architects. But all of that is less than what was originally planned. “There’s no children’s playground as planned, nor an environmental center that the original plan envisioned. Bases for lighting have been installed, but not the fixtures,” reported the Bureau. As for Phase 2 of the park, there is no word on that at all.
The opening of a new pier and beach at Michael Van Valkenburgh's Brooklyn Bridge Park this week marks the halfway point in the transformation of the celebrated 85-acre site. Local elected officials and community leaders—including Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver—appeared on the new Pier 2 to mark the occasion. They used words like “amazing” and “unbelievable" to describe the new six acres of space, but didn’t need much help selling the project. As they spoke on the overcast afternoon, their voices were drowned out by people playing basketball and bocce, and children running around a new playground. "We love all the boroughs," said Silver during his turn at the mic. "But, let me say, Brooklyn is really cool." This “active recreation” space came out of a community-driven planning process, and also includes handball courts, a field, a roller rink, and food vendors all under a protective shed. A few steps from all the action at Pier 2 is the new Pier 4 beach, a small waterfront space that will soon look out onto a natural habitat called Bird Island.
Bjarke Ingels and Michael Van Valkenburgh are teaming up to design Pier 6 at the southern end of Brooklyn Bridge Park. As AN reported, the pier will feature a pastoral landscape terminated by a triangular viewing pavilion called the Mantaray. The landscape and viewing platform will offer unmatched views of the Manhattan skyline and accommodate special events like concerts. Take a look at the gallery of renderings below or read more about the project here. All renderings courtesy BIG and MVVA.
Taking the podium at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York City Representative Nydia M. Velázquez introduced new legislation, called the "Waterfront of Tomorrow Act," to protect and fortify New York City's 538-miles of coastline. The bill would instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with an in-depth plan to stimulate economic growth and job creation, update the ports, and implement flood protection measures. Sandwiched between Red Hook Container Terminal and One Brooklyn Bridge Park, a large residential development, the pier was an appropriate place for the Congresswoman to announce legislation that addresses the city's needs to bolster its shipping industry while also taking steps to mitigate flooding and ensure the resiliency and sustainability of its residential neighborhoods, parkland, and businesses. "I think the part [of the bill] that was the most exciting was about protecting New York City from future floods, and most importantly talked about hard and soft solutions. Different parts of NYC will need different solutions," said Rick Bell, Executive Director for AIA New York Chapter Center for Architecture. "This whole announcement talked about multifaceted approach." The bill is divided into four sections that propose flood protection and resiliency measures, a national freight policy, and "Green Port" designations and a grant program to promote the environmental sustainability of the shipping ports. The Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, will be charged with coming up with a strategy to protect the waterfront from severe weather patterns and rising tides, including tide gates, oyster reef restoration, and wetland restoration. "Whether it is commerce, recreation, transportation, or our local environment, New Yorkers' lives are inextricably linked to the water that surrounds us," Velázquez said at the announcement. "Investing in our ports, coasts and waterfronts can improve our City and local communities." The timing of this bill is up in the air, but it will likely enter the conversation in September when Congress returns from the August District Work Period to discuss new legislation aimed at enhancing the nation's waterways.
Proposals galore! Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) is moving full speed ahead with its plans to develop parcels of its 1.3-mile waterfront expanse. In September, the Park released a Request for Proposals seeking a developer to restore and makeover the crumbling Empire Stores warehouses into a lively mixed-use development consisting of office, commercial, and retail space, while also preserving the integrity of the massive historic structure. Ten prominent developers submitted proposals to overhaul the brick and timber building made up of seven connecting warehouses. And now Crain's has revealed about half the list of developers vying for this project with heavy hitters such as: Jamestown Properties (behind Chelsea Market and Milk Studio), Two Trees (run by the Walentas family who has transformed DUMBO and is redeveloping the mega Domino Sugar Refinery site), Acumen Capital Partners, Robert A. Levine (of colossal residential building, One Brooklyn Bridge Park), and Midtown Equities (Crain's reported that their proposal is the current front-runner). The proposals envision a variety of uses for the Empire Stores buildings from cultural and artisan office space to a rooftop urban farm and terraces. Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, is hoping to grant the winning proposal a 99-year lease. This development, like the Rogers Marvel-designed Pierhouse residential and hotel complex, will generate money for the maintenance and operation of the park.