Posts tagged with "Brooklyn Navy Yard":

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Sidewalk Labs may develop its own district to test smart city tech

This May 3 to May 6, the Brooklyn Navy Yard's Duggal Greenhouse is hosting the inaugural Smart Cities NYC conference and expo. Smart Cities NYC is ambitious in its scope, with a global selection of speakers whose backgrounds include government, the tech industry, academia, real estate/development, and design. Autonomous vehicles, public health, construction technology, resilient urban landscapes, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are just a few of the subjects being discussed. The Architect's Newspaper is covering the first two days of the conference—see yesterday's coverage here! Dan Doctoroff, C.E.O. and co-founder of Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet's urban innovations company and designer of LinkNYC, today laid out his company's vision for driving smart city technology into the near future. Before delving into Sidewalk Lab's goals and methods, Doctoroff painted a picture of an industry facing intrinsic challenges. "Getting things done in cities is really hard.... no city in the world does a good job of truly integrating the physical and the digital," said Doctoroff. That's why, he said, venture capitalists hadn't invested deeply in smart city technology companies. Additionally, as infrastructure crumbles and cities become unaffordable, the public loses faith in government's ability to solve problems. Yet, he believes that technological innovations in materials/fabrication, social media, machine learning, and related fields have the ability to revolutionize cities the same ways that steam engines, electric grids, and cars did in the past.   Doctoroff then discussed an ambitious plan to accelerate the innovation process. Sidewalk Labs is "looking into developing a large-scale district" that would serve as a smart city technology testbed. The company is currently in the feasibility studies phase, and it remained unclear if this would be ground-up construction, but it sees this test bed as critical. Thanks to its district-scale size, it will attract an aggregation of innovators whose collaborations and synergies will create positive feedback loops of experimentation and success. Put differently, the sheer scale of the testbed will make its technologies greater than the sum of their parts. Once successful models are discovered, he predicted, they will be quickly dissimulated. He cited The High Line (a Bloomberg-era project that Doctoroff oversaw as deputy mayor) as an example of a globally and rapidly copied idea. Throughout his speech, Doctoroff often repeated that such innovations would only be successful if they improved quality of life, health, opportunity, equity, and other laudable goals. To that end, he outlined several specific areas where Sidewalk Labs was pursuing its ideas. One was the more efficient use of real estate; Sidewalk is currently looking into prefab modular housing, sensors that monitor building performance in real-time, and robotic delivery services that would reduce the need for residential storage space. Another area is mobility systems that would replace private cars, which Doctoroff said were a financial burden to many ($9,000 to $10,000 per year for a single family), as well as creators of sprawl, lethal accidents, and carbon dioxide emissions. Sidewalk Labs is exploring self-driving cars, car shares, optimizing existing road network usage, and the incentivizing of walking and biking. Sidewalk Labs's third area of focus is sustainability. Most notably, Doctoroff cited a thermal exchange system in development that could capture buildings' wasted heat, thereby reducing energy usage by up to 80 percent over a year. He also mentioned more familiar techniques, like greywater recycling and Passive House technology. A fourth area involved urban commons: the "public realm that is the city's living room or backyard," as Doctoroff put it. Innovations in that department included the use of retractable ETFE canopies to protect bike lanes and sensors that monitor air quality and the status of public assets (presumably benches, streetlights, and similar infrastructure). Lastly, Doctoroff referenced the "close-knit community that uses data to improve services." This area of focus included ensuring universal access to broadband and undertakings like LinkNYC. The improved collection and analysis of data could improve healthcare delivery and new democratic forums. On the whole, Sidewalk Labs's plans were ambitious and brimming with technological optimism, despite the challenges that smart city technology companies face. The question of top-down versus bottom-up efforts was a final and critical undercurrent of its vision: "You can never truly plan a city, you can [just] lay foundations," said Doctoroff. How exactly that plays out, and where the public has an opportunity to shape and direct these technologies, remains to be seen. Want more technology news for the architecture, engineering, and construction industries? Don't miss The Architect's Newspaper's Tech+ expo, coming to New York City this May 23!
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Driverless cars, bikes, and the future of urban transportation at Smart Cities NYC

This May 3 to May 6, the Brooklyn Navy Yard's Duggal Greenhouse is hosting the inaugural Smart Cities NYC conference and expo. Smart Cities NYC is ambitious in its scope, with a global selection of speakers whose backgrounds include government, the tech industry, academia, real estate/development, and design. Autonomous vehicles, public health, construction technology, resilient urban landscapes, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are just a few of the subjects being discussed. The Architect's Newspaper is covering the first two days of the conference—stay tuned for another article tomorrow! Transportation was a fixture of the first day's programming. At the "Integrated Urban Mobility" panel, the conversation revolved around how car and bike sharing companies were changing cities and their streetscapes. The panel kicked off with an urban design question: How will cities treat curbside parking now that, with the advent of car sharing, it's less necessary? Now that it's free for other uses, "space along the curb [may soon] be very valuable," said Jay Walder, CEO of bike share company Motivate. However, "one of the most challenging things cities need to do" is to determine how to regulate, share, and maintain these spaces as private care ownership disappears. While parking may be a relative afterthought for architects, it was a critical part of the transportation future for the panelists. Aaron Landry, general manager of car2go North America (a car-sharing service), explained how his company minimizes how long its cars occupy curbside space. By predicting and optimizing where car pickups and dropoffs happen, car2go's vehicles are rarely parked for long. Developers are also fighting parking requirements in new developments, instead opting to provide residents with transit subsidies or dedicated car share pickup/dropoff/storage points. Without parking requirements, developers can allot less valuable land to unproductive hardtop. The gradual elimination of parking also led to another major question: If parking meters, registration fees, tolls, and other related taxes disappear with car ownership, how will cities fund road maintenance? "We should absolutely have road pricing," said Walder, referencing tech-driven systems that track where and when individuals drive. Members of this panel, as well as later ones, agreed that such a system would be essential to funding road infrastructure in the future. The panel also tackled how bike and car shares fit into a city's larger transportation system. "We don't compete with the transit system," said Walder, "we're part of it." He stated that 40 percent of Citibike trips start and end near public transit. Similarly, Dan Curtin, vice president of Zipcar's Fleet and Supply Chain, said that private car ownership—not public transport—was Zipcar's primary adversary. In fact, he described how Zipcar customers use more public transit services once they give up their cars. (At a later panel, Michael Masserman, senior director of Federal & International Government Relations at Lyft, said that certain cities subsidize commuters to take Lyft to and from public transport, solving "last mile/first mile" challenges. Masserman also said car ride sharing services like Lyft could replace inefficient bus routes, such as those that run late at night and carry few customers.) Lastly, in cities everywhere "patterns of travel are more fundamentally complex than before," declared Walder. Greg Lindsay, the panel's moderator and Senior Fellow of the New Cities Foundation's Connected Mobility Initiative, pointed to apps like Portland's TriMet that consolidate various "subscriptions" of private and public transit in a single place. In theory, this would let commuters move fluidly between transportation options. Kristof Vereenooghe, CEO of EV-Box, a company that supplies electric charging stations and related services, added that such apps are already common in Europe. Overall, the panel seemed optimistic these changes would steadily snowball into a full transportation revolution. People are realizing the value of short commutes and, in a future of shared commuting, the financially vulnerable can also be freed from the monetary burdens of car ownership. Add developers into the mix of transportation-savvy urbanites, and there's a strong driving force for change. The "Transforming Transportation" panel dealt with a related topic: driverless cars. Dan Galves, chief communications officer at vision-based driver assistance systems company Mobileye, started the panel by saying fully driveless, autonomous, mass-produced cars could be here by 2024 to 2025. As compared to the previous panel, this one was even more bullish on the future: "All this technology is leading to seamless intermodal transportation—faster, safer, more tailored," said Scott Corwin, managing director of Deloitte Consulting's Future of Mobility Leader initiative. And as with a similar panel at another recent transportation conference, the consensus was that networks of shared, driverless, electric vehicles would be the ideal future scenario. But before we get there, the panel agreed that cities would act as crucial testbeds, using their varying and unique layouts to expose weaknesses in autonomous driving systems. One "tremendously huge challenge" does remain, said John Moavenzadeh, head of Mobility Industries and System Initiative at the World Economic Forum. Each city and country has its own "culture" for how to pay for its roads. A road pricing system (also a subject in the previous panel) will be a challenge to create. Corwin helped conclude the panel on a forceful note, saying we "need creative, digitally-based, sustainable, equitable solutions," because there will be no more 2nd Ave. Subways or Robert Moses to fix transportation challenges the old way. Want more technology news for the architecture, engineering, and construction industries? Don't miss The Architect's Newspaper's Tech+ expo, coming to New York City this May 23!
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Brooklyn Navy Yard to host four-day smart cities conference

This May 3 to May 5, multiple venues across the Brooklyn Navy Yard will host the inaugural Smart Cities NYC conference and expo. The conference is ambitious in its scope: it features a global selection of speakers with backgrounds ranging from government to technology, academia, real estate/development, and design. Key topics of interest to architects, designers, and developers will be transportation (from biking/walking to driverless cars), public health, innovations in construction risk and public/private partnerships (with panels on the LaGuardia Airport redevelopment and Penn Station), resiliency, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart Cities NYC Founder Jerry MacArthur Hultin told The Architect's Newspaper that the conference:
...represents what we're trying to do more broadly as a strategy: Build a capacity to use technology in cities to get people a better life. We're looking at any of the levers that make that happen so that young people start inventing more things, governments pick up on these ideas and do them, companies finance them and make them happen, citizens help design them. The more there's an ecosystem of activity, the better.
Notable participants include a team from Columbus, Ohio handling the city's $50 million "Smart City" grant, Matthew Claudel of MIT's Design X (who will be on the panel "Anticipatory Urban Design for the Age of Autonomous Vehicles"), New Lab, Ger Baron, the Chief Technology Office of Amsterdam, James Ramsey, co-founder and creator of the Lowline (who will be on the panel "The Repositioning and Revitalizing of Cities"), and Daniel Zarrilli, senior director, climate policy & programs chief resilience officer, New York Office of the Mayor—and that's just to name a few. See a full list here. The conference will feature lectures, workshops, and social gatherings spread across the Navy Yard venues, which include the 35,000-square-foot Duggal Greenhouse, 30,000-square-foot Agger Warehouse, and the 5,737-square-foot Building 92. The former two are large, open event spaces while the latter features a cafe, terrace, and multipurpose room. There will also be tours outside the Navy Yard (details TBD). "Architects have been beginning to see that this new technology is really going to influence urban design, building design," said Hultin. "Seeing the new technology, debating, imagining what you can do with it, it's really essential." For more on Smart Cities NYC '17, see their page here. Tickets range from approximately $420 to $1,250.
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Explore SITU Studio’s new gallery at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Brooklyn-based SITU Studio has designed a new exhibition space acalled “Yard Work” in Building 92 of the Brooklyn Navy Yards (BNY). The tenant population at BNY is rapidly expanding—the industrial park reports that $700 million in new developments are currently underway, including investments in public food services and green manufacturing, which it estimates will expand overall on-site employment to 16,000 jobs by 2020. This exhibition space aims to capitalize on this diversification of the BYY's industries by displaying items from their many production lines. “As we grow, we want to create space for people to connect and collaborate, while providing more amenities for Yard employees and the public,” said Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation President and CEO David Ehrenberg in a statement. Though the space was designed by SITU, a tenant of the BNY since 2013, other companies participated in the curation of this inaugural exhibition titled Wood Works; those companies include furniture designer, Asher Israelow; engineering and design firm, Rock Paper Robot; and career training non-profit, Refoundry. The exhibit, aptly named, displays a range of wood products developed with both new technologies and handcrafted design techniques. The gallery uses a system of custom pegboards that can “easily reconfigure to host new exhibits and a range of objects, artifacts, and art.” The pegboards are made of unfinished MDF panels that will produce a patina over time and “reflect the industrial and ever-changing nature of the Yard itself.” This project is the most recent iteration of SITU’s interest in flexible design and adaptable infrastructure which the studio has previously utilized in various workspaces, cultural institutions, and at the urban scale. The gallery and cafe are open 7 a.m. tp 7 p.m., seven days per week. The cafe will be operated by Brooklyn Roasting Company, a tenant of the BNY, and will for the first time serve beer and wine at their evening happy hour. SITU, the Brooklyn Roasting Company, and BNY collaborated on the design of the cafe.
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Forest City Ratner to sell pioneering modular factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Feeling boxed in, the company that pushed the boundaries of modular building is cutting out of the business.

Developer Forest City Ratner is selling its factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to a Roger Krulak, a former executive at the company. The Navy Yard facility produced 930 units for the world's tallest modular structure—461 Dean Street, a 32-story tower in Pacific Park (née Atlantic Yards) designed by SHoP.

When factory first opened, Forest City planned to build structures to support the guts (plumbing, bath, kitchen, and electrical) of every one of Pacific Park's buildings. The firm touted modular building's efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and its potential impact on the construction industry—one Forest City executive called the technology at the factory its "iPhone moment."

Unlike Apple, though, which comes out with new iPhones annually, 461 Dean Street tower took four years to construct. This was due in part to the building's structural issues, but also to long-running disagreements between Forest City and Skanska, which ran the factory until Forest City regained control to streamline operations. The project has the dubious honor of having one of the most languid construction timelines for a tower of its size in city history, the New York Times reports.

Despite setbacks, modular building is appealing because all of a building's parts can be made at one site, shielded from the elements, under the watchful eye of the project's designers and engineers. Although low- and lower-rise buildings, like nArchitects' Carmel Place, are soundly modular, the Dean Street building needed extra engineering, primarily steel reinforcement to provide resilience against high winds.

“The bumps we hit, with respect to Skanska, are typical of any start-up,” a sunny MaryAnne Gilmartin, the chief executive of Forest City Ratner, told the Times. “The good news is that we’ve worked out a lot of the bugs and gotten through the growing pains of innovation.”

Although modular has more than proved its merit in smaller projects, 461 Dean Street tested the technology's limits. It remains to be seen how Krulak, and other players like Capsys, will scale modular to meet its lofty aspirations. For his part, Krulak estimates that his company, Full Stack Modular, could help clients save up to 20 percent on the project's cost.

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Take a look inside New York’s only public film school, designed by Dattner Architects

Except for two giant antennae, New York's newest film school occupies an unassuming perch atop Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Brooklyn College Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, a 450-student graduate program, is the first film school at a public college in New York City. The building is owned by Steiner Studios, a major Navy Yard business with over 18,000 employees. The 300-foot-long-by-100-foot-wide building, which sits on the National Register of Historic Places, used to be a U.S. Navy building. New York–based Dattner Architects renovated the core and shell prior to constructing the film school, design principal Daniel Heuberger explained. The build-out of the film school, which occupies the fifth and sixth floors, took advantage of the structure's open spaces created by the industrial-sized spans of its column bays. Brooklyn College wanted the space to feel like a "genuine vertical campus," said Heuberger, with blended academic and social facilities to facilitate interaction among students and industry professionals. The nucleus of the program is a sixth-floor forum with a study space and cafeteria anchored by a wide-set stairway that can be used for lounging and reading. A screening room off of the forum dialogues with production spaces on that floor, while classrooms and offices occupy the floor below. Designing a film school was a big learning curve, and the architects consulted industry experts to insure that a bountiful number of programs could be accommodated. "There's absolutely no film left in film, it's all digital. It gives gigantic creative leverage to all students, who before would have had a hard—and costly—time putting together incredibly sophisticated films," said Heuberger. Making a film is a labor-intensive, almost industrial process that requires many people and specialized equipment. Consequently, the building's design discourages the auteur model of filmmaking in favor of heavy student-to-student collaboration: A column-free, 120-foot-by-60-foot hybrid production and sound stage facilitates the making process, as does the motion capture studio, equipment room, a construction shop, and foley room. Digital production produces a substantial amount of data, so the school is outfitted with two internal networks—one for email, one for film—to keep projects flowing smoothly.  
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New Lab, high-tech entrepreneurial hub, opens in Brooklyn Navy Yard

First built in 1902 for ship construction, the 250,000-square-foot "Building 128" may be back at the cutting edge of industry. The enormous structure will host New Lab, a platform and community for technology-focused entrepreneurs. Yesterday, New York City officials, Brooklyn Navy Yard President & CEO David Ehrenberg, and New Lab founders David Belt and Scott Cohen gathered to inaugurate the new space. The scale of the New Lab is large, both in terms of raw numbers and the work being done: 50 companies and 350 workers will share 84,000 square feet of offices, laboratories, and other industrial facilities. The project is part of a major push to revitalize the Brooklyn Navy Yard: the City aims to create 15,000 jobs there by 2020. For example, WeWork recently announced it would anchor a major new 675,000-square-foot coworking office building dubbed Dock 72. What can tech entrepreneurs find in New Lab? Studios range from 300 to 8,000 square feet and amenities include a cafe, kitchen, lounge, 4,500-square-foot event space, and workshops of every variety—CNC milling machines, metal and wood shops, an electronics lab for making circuits, a spray booth, laser cutters, and a 3D printing lab. “Our vision is that New Lab will be a supportive and collaborative working environment for designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs—people trying to accomplish really hard things—not in Silicon Valley or at MIT but right here in Brooklyn,” said Cohen in a press release. Companies in New Lab's member directory work in multiple fields of design, including robotics, nano tech, artificial intelligence, wearables, interactive architecture, and urban tech. In terms of the latter category, New Lab is teaming up with the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC)’s Urban Tech NYC program to create a special residency program for urban technology entrepreneurs. "Reserved for growth-stage companies tackling today’s most pressing urban challenges, this program...offers high-touch engagement with domain experts and peer communities," the New Lab website says. As for the space itself, its design was a group effort: "Working alongside its sister management company, DBI, with Marvel Architects as the architect of record, Macro Sea—led by Belt, Design Director Nicko Elliott, and their small team—fostered the project from the idea’s inception down to prototyping and building custom furniture for the space," New Lab said in a press release.  While the ribbon was cut yesterday, the facility—which has been in the works since 2011—will open in earnest this September. Prospective entrepreneurs can apply for New Lab residency here.
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The Brooklyn Navy Yard to get $380 million development anchored by WeWork

The Brooklyn Navy Yard is certainly having a moment: It just hosted the Bernie-Hillary debate in its 35,000-square-foot Duggal Greenhouse event space, and Duke Riley is currently performing his surreal, aerial, pigeon-powered Fly By Night project there. The proposed Brooklyn–Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar would link the 300-acre site to multiple subway lines. The Yard will be the new home of the Brooklyn Brewery, MAST Brothers Chocolate Makers, and now WeWork, the last of which will anchor a 16-story, 675,000-square-foot office building designed by New York-based S9 Architecture.

Dubbed Dock 72, the building will be located along the water on the western side of the Yard. Rudin Development and Boston Properties are the developers behind the $380 million project, which the city government hopes will support technology and creative industries. “This project is going to help bring ideas, innovators, and start-ups to the Yard, where they can scale up their businesses, hire more New Yorkers, and manufacture their products right here in Brooklyn,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement.

WeWork, which will occupy 220,000 square feet of the building, tapped S9 Architecture for the project back in 2013. S9 founding partner Navid Maqami said the site shaped Dock 72’s design in many ways: The land is not only narrow, bordered on three sides by water, but it’s also flood-prone. Consequently, V-shaped columns lift the building’s offices out of danger. The ground floor won’t be empty, however, it will house lounges, dining facilities, and a fitness center on the mezzanine level. On the upper floors, a series of open terraces take advantage of the site’s sweeping views of Manhattan and will serve as communal areas. The Dock 72 roof will feature conference facilities as well.

Those terraces are complemented by a series of connected social spaces within the building. “We carved out these common areas that could be linked on multiple stories,” two or three at a time, via stairs, said Maqami. He explained that these shared areas aim to replicate the communal energy he found when he visited a WeWork coworking office. “It’s not about going to your cubicle or private office, getting it done, then going home,” Maqami said. 

S9 calls these multilevel social spaces the “ant farm,” and appropriately, the spaces will be revealed to the outside thanks to the building’s glazing. S9 riffed on the surrounding loft buildings’ facades, massing, and materiality to create a gridded exterior. The building’s facade also echoes the concrete gray and rust and brick red found in the Navy Yard. WeWork and the individual clients will design their own interiors. Fogarty Finger will design the ground-floor interior and some of the building’s amenities, which include "a first floor lobby, coffee bar and lounge, first floor market for specialty foods and beverage service, second floor juice bar/lounge, fitness center, wellness classrooms and spa, and 16th floor conference center and lounge," said Fogarty Finger in an email to AN. Dock 72 will be complete in two years.

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Olson Kundig designs pigeon lofts for Duke Riley’s “Fly By Night” performances in the Brooklyn Navy Yard

For those living in or visiting New York City this May and June, the Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig is partnering with the Brooklyn-based artist Duke Riley on a weekend public art performance and installation piece, Fly By Nightin the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (Event tickets are sold out, but there is a waitlist.) The non-profit arts organization, Creative Time, commissioned the piece. At dusk on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through June 12, the artist will awaken a flock of close to 2,000 pigeons living in a group of Olson Kundig-designed pigeon lofts resting on the docked and decommissioned Navy ship, the Baylander. The artist outfitted the pigeons with glowing LED leg bands. "We raise a flag and the birds then know to take off and start flying in different patterns," Riley told the New York Times in a short video. https://vimeo.com/164326694 Riley was inspired by the site's former use as the military's largest pigeon coop. During World War II, the military used pigeons to deliver messages in the dead of night, with some pigeons traveling up to 600 miles in a single flight. “The artist has a clear love for these pigeons and it came across in the design thinking behind the pigeon coops," said Olson Kundig Associate Kristen Becker, who worked with Riley on the pigeon lofts, in a statement. "The idea that the coops were designed to exist beyond the performance resonates in the way in which we detailed the piece. Each coop bay was designed not only to be installed quickly but also to be dismantled to be reused and donated as individual coops afterwards. Instead of thinking of it as one building—we thought about it as a series of buildings." After around 30 minutes, Riley calls the pigeons home with a whistle. Becker also designed 25 bird houses, taking cues from the Fly by Night pigeon lofts, for the April 28 Creative Time Gala, to help raise funds for free public access to art.
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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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It’s now too expensive to build local for New York’s modular construction industry

Thanks to high rents, New York City is losing one of its longtime modular construction companies at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And the news could send ripples through the city's prefab construction scene. Capsys, a pre-fab builder founded in 1996, was paying $4 per square foot for its space in the Navy Yard, far below what other tenants were paying. The going rent, $20 per square foot, for manufacturing space at the Navy Yard is already set below market to retain firms that would otherwise not be able to afford to do business in the city. Upon learning in 2010 that their longterm lease was not being renewed, Capsys went hunting for new space. The advantage of local prefab construction is cost and quality control. Building are constructed at the factory by (usually) nonunion workers. Architects can check in on the projects, correcting any flaws before the pieces are shipped. Although rents are lower in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, being based locally cuts down on expensive overland shipping costs. Recently, though, new regulations require modular units to have an (expensive) police escort when the units are ferried to construction sites. For almost ten years, Capsys was the only modular builder in the Navy Yard until Forest City Ratner moved its operations there. With new owners of Forest City's Pacific Park, it looks like Forest City's modular building operations may close, though this could be due less to rising rents and more to design issues that incur costs. The shortcomings of Pacific Park's B2, the SHoP Architects–designed world's tallest modular tower, have been widely documented. Capsys has designed 55 micro-apartments for Carmel Place (the building formerly known as adAPT NYC), and Alexander Gorlin's Nehemiah townhouses, among other projects. When the company closes shop, Capsys will sell its intellectual property to a Pennsylvania company.
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Archtober Building of the Day #24> Kings County Distillery at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Archtober Building of the Day #24 Kings County Distillery 63 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn Kushner Studios Three days of Archtober rain have finally given way to a chilly day washed clear—perfect weather for an adventure to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. A crowd of Archtober faithful was on hand (despite the conspicuous post-Heritage Ball hangover of the author) for a hair of the dog moment with Master Distiller Colin Spoelman and architect John Bedard at the Kings County Distillery. The building, solid brick and well detailed in 1899, originally served as the Navy Paymaster Office. The Navy left the yard in 1966, and the structure joined the many others awaiting new and viable economic use. After a brief stint as a Jewish funeral shroud manufacturing facility, it was rescued by the hipster distillers now making their way in the world of craft booze. Spoelman gave a lively history of the neighborhood which was the historic home to many distillers. We heard stories of the Whiskey Wars of Brooklyn, tax evasion, gangs, crooks, and the heavy hand of the revenue men. We also learned how whiskey is made, and enjoyed, to the extent possible, the strong odor of the process. Vats of yellow corn goo in the process of fermentation, were in big, open wood tanks. Inquisitive insects lazily sipped from the open containers. Huge one-ton sacks of corn were piled up along one side of the still room. The copper-pot still itself was a voluptuous decanter, piped and valved, with a final trickle of clear moonshine issuing forth into a waiting vessel. Upstairs are the Boozeum and the Barrel Room. Apparently the Barrel Room can be rented as a wedding venue (I wonder what they do about the smell). The whole enterprise seems to be a mirror of hipster chic: locavore, sustainable, micro-business, full of fantastic arcana, and ever so retrospective. Our crowd huddled in for tasting of three liquors. I abstained, but others reported sophisticated flavor, smooth finish, and a nice woody middle.
Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober:  Architecture and Design Month NYC.  She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell.  After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson,  held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater.