Posts tagged with "Brooklyn":

Inaba Williams converts a challenging interior into a luminous Brooklyn preschool

Although architects design new buildings for well-endowed nonprofits all the time, it is somewhat uncommon for firms known for high design to take on super-low-budget commissions. But Inaba Williams was up for the challenge. For a new preschool in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, the Inaba Williams team drew out the quirks of an awkward, column-filled interior to deliver a luminous space that supports the school’s commitment to immersion in Japanese language and culture. The Brooklyn-based firm connected with Aozora Gakuen after the school leased the space, which had sat vacant for two years despite its location in a desirable neighborhood. Unlike most chronically empty New York commercial properties, the rent wasn’t too high for prospective lessees—the space was just too weird. The second floor, where the school is located, doubles as the structural transfer level between the apartment tower above and offices and a parking garage below. In plan, the structural columns look like confetti left over from a manic crafting session. To reconcile the column array with the client’s needs, the team highlighted the irregularities of the 3,500-square-foot space while harmonizing the circulation pattern across three classrooms, a bathroom, and a shared kitchen. Inaba Williams founding principal Jeffrey Inaba opted to move the classrooms to the perimeter and organize an interior pickup and drop-off area (called the Aozora Room, “blue sky” room in Japanese). Surrounded by glass panels that pull light in from the street-front classrooms, that area is the heart of the school as well as a transitional space from the outside world into the classroom. Along with cubbies (getabako), it’s delineated by a raised wood floor that physically separates the shoes-on portion of the school from the classrooms, which, in accordance with Japanese custom, are shoes-off. Typically, architects work to mask irregular features, but in the Aozora Room, they turned what Inaba deemed “the craziest part of the structure” into a defining feature. Making use of what he called “an aspirational Marcel Duchamp door,” a reference to the French artist’s Door: 11, Rue Larrey, the design now has one door leading from the bathroom to the classroom and the other leading from the bathroom to the Aozora Room’s threshold area. All the doors can be opened for seamless circulation or closed for activity separation. To save money, the firm installed standard fixtures and “very, very economical” wood floor and tiling. While Inaba declined to go on the record with the budget, he did say the project cost far less than a typical New York institutional interior—without sacrificing design quality. Consequently, “there’s programmatic variability with very simple elements,” he said. Beyond design, the experience made the firm excited to work with other mission-driven clients. “There are many organizations where the physical space is critical to what [the client] does, but they don’t have the means to afford an architect or think about design,” Inaba said. “To be able to work with a group and make a space that aligned with their teaching philosophy was really important.”

Architectural League announces winners of 2018 prize for Young Architects + Designers

The Architectural League of New York has announced the winners of its 37th annual Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, meant to highlight and foster up-and-coming architectural and design talent. This year’s theme, Objective, asked entrants to examine the role of objectivity in today’s society when the notion is simultaneously elevated as well as undermined by technology, science, and politics. If we truly do live in a post-truth world, what does objectivity mean for architecture? The 2018 winners, decided through a portfolio competition, are as follows: Anya Sirota of Akoaki, Detroit Akoaki was cofounded by Sirota and Jean Louis Farges in 2008. The Detroit-based architecture and design studio explores reviving urban spaces in their home city through the use of eye-catching temporary installations that encourage public participation. Some of their more otherworldly designs include a frost generator and a trompe l’oeil “red carpet” in Los Angeles. Sirota is an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Bryony Roberts of Bryony Roberts Studio, New York Bryony Roberts is a New York-based research and design firm founded in 2011 that actively combines, art, architecture, and preservation. Bryony Roberts actively works to reinvigorate historical places with new life, and the firm has worked on everything from a series of marble tile studies to choreographing dancers in Rome. Roberts herself is an adjunct professor of architecture and preservation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Gabriel Cuéllar and Athar Mufreh of Cadaster, Brooklyn The Brooklyn-based Cadaster, founded in 2016 by Cuéllar and Mufreh, is an architecture studio whose work explores the cross-section between architecture and territory. Their most recent work includes the research project Subversive Real Estate: The Landholding Patterns of American Black Churches, and Upstate Ecologies: Regional Vision for the New York Canal System, the firm’s entry into the international planning competition for the future of New York State’s canal systems. Coryn Kempster of Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster, Buffalo Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster, cofounded by Kempster and Julia Jamrozik in 2014, focuses on the roles that experience and memory play in architecture. The Buffalo-based firm has built abstract play fields and super-efficient single family homes, but the same attention to detail and user interaction is found throughout their portfolio. Kempster is an adjunct assistant professor of architecture at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Alison Von Glinow and Lap Chi Kwong of Kwong Von Glinow, Chicago Kwong Von Glinow was founded in 2017 by Von Glinow and Kwong and operates out of Chicago. While still young, the architecture studio has already won plenty of recognition for its radical reinterpretation of forms, including its plans for a modular apartment tower in New York and community-centered apartment high-rises in Hong Kong. Kwong teaches as an adjunct professor of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Von Glinow is a part-time professor of architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dan Spiegel of SAW // Spiegel Aihara Workshop, San Francisco SAW // Spiegel Aihara Workshop, co-founded in 2011 by Spiegel and Megumi Aihara, works at the intersection between architecture and urban design. Their portfolio spans everything from the front desk of the Casper office to a try-on truck for lingerie startup True & Co. SAW was also recently recognized with an AN 2017 Best of Design Awards for Young Architects. Spiegel currently teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, and California College of the Arts. The jury for this year’s prize was composed of 2018 Young Architects + Designers Committee, as well as Tatiana Bilbao, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Georgeen Theodore, and Claire Weisz. From June 21 through August 4, an exhibition featuring an installation from each of the winners will be installed at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design / The New School, Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, 66 Fifth Avenue. On June 21 at 7:00 PM, Gabriel Cuéllar and Athar Mufreh, Coryn Kempster, and Bryony Roberts will be giving lectures in the exhibition space. On June 22 at 7:00 PM, Alison Von Glinow and Lap Chi Kwong, Anya Sirota, and Dan Spiegel will be giving their lectures in the same location. The Architectural League has also announced the publication of Young Architects 18: (im)permanence, a collection of projects from the 2016 League Prize Winners.

Brooklyn’s New Lab goes big with a tech hub for urban entrepreneurs

Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue.  Located in a former shipbuilding space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New Lab is an 84,000-square-foot collaborative tech hub dedicated to entrepreneurs working on scalable technologies and products. New Lab supports companies in nine disciplines: robotics, AI, urban tech, the built environment, energy, connected devices, additive tech, life sciences, and nanotechnology. Members benefit from access to a dizzying array of fabrication labs, including 3-D printing, woodworking, casting, CNC milling, and electronics, along with access to free software, including Autodesk and SolidWorks. But it’s also important to note that New Lab’s location in New York City is part of the draw, as the city itself is offered as an ideal laboratory to test the technologies in real-life urban conditions. The flagship tech hub opened in 2016 and was founded to provide a supportive center for those companies working at the forefront of technology and human experience and to ensure that they have a reason to stay in the city. David Belt, New Lab’s co-founder and CEO, is careful to stress that the lab is not an incubator—that is, it is not dedicated to helping companies at the beginning of their research or product-development cycles, but rather those that have concrete products and built technologies and are ready to take the next step. Through a formalized arm of the company called New Lab Ventures—a $50 million venture fund—the lab itself invests in some of its member companies and currently has investments in 14 of them; the lab also connects members to the world’s leading venture funds. And a joint program called the Urban Tech Hub, in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), allows New Lab to support companies that strive to make a more livable, resilient city through their technologies and products. Additionally, the lab has other private-public partnerships in the works and a global partner network with Barcelona, Spain, and Copenhagen, Denmark, that offers other opportunities to members. New Lab currently has 103 member companies, with 600 individuals working at the space. Competition for entry is steep—just 15 percent of applicants are accepted.

Notable alumni include:

CARMERA

The founders see potential for their technology to be crucial for urban developers, autonomous vehicles, public transportation, and infrastructure. It allows for real-time, constantly updated 3-D mapping of cities.

Voltaic Systems

The portable solar power company creates lightweight solar panels and solar-powered solutions for people, products, and structures alike.

StrongArm Technologies

This company develops ergonomic solutions for injury prevention and peak performance for the industrial workforce, including the construction industry.

Terreform ONE

An architecture and urban think tank that advances ecological design in derelict municipal areas. Terreform is New Lab’s only nonprofit and its only architect-centric member.

URBAN-X accelerator wants to transform cities, one semester at a time

Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue.  The age of the car as we know it appears to be winding down—that is, if the diverse initiatives started by car companies is any indication. For example, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the BMW-owned MINI recently launched A/D/O, a nARCHITECTS-design makerspace and the headquarters of URBAN-X, an accelerator for start-ups seeking to improve urban life. Although URBAN-X is only two years old, the company has hit the ground running thanks to MINI’s partnership with Urban Us, a network of investors focused on funding start-ups that use technology to improve urban living. Through that partnership, URBAN-X is able to use its funding from MINI to take on companies that lack finished products or established customers and then connect them to the Urban Us community. Through a rigorously programmed five-month semester, up to ten start-ups at a time work with in-house engineering, software, marketing, and urbanism experts and given access to the outside funding and political connections that URBAN-X is able to leverage. Competition to join the cohort is fierce, especially since the chosen companies are given $100,000 in initial funding. Architects, planners, urban designers, construction workers, and those with a background in thinking about cities have historically applied. At the time of writing, the third group had just finished its tenure and presented an overview of its work, at A/D/O, at a Demo Day on February 9. The companies have since followed up with whirlwind tours to court investors and realize their ideas. The diversity of projects that have come out of URBAN-X represents the wide-ranging problems that face any modern city. The solutions aren’t entirely infrastructure-based, either. For example, Farmshelf has gained critical acclaim by moving urban farming into sleek, indoor “growing cabinets”; Industrial/Organic is turning decomposing food waste into electricity; and Good Goods has created a platform for smaller retailers to occupy space in large vacancies by pooling money. Ultimately, as cities evolve and become more interconnected, addressing the problems found within them will require ever more complicated and multidisciplinary solutions. The fourth URBAN-X cohort will be announced on May 10, 2018. Notable alumni include: Numina A start-up that uses sensor-integrated streetlights to map traffic patterns. Lunewave A technology company that claims its spherical sensor for self-driving cars is cheaper and more effective than the LiDAR (light detection and ranging) currently in widespread use (likely a win for MINI and BMW). Sencity A platform that encourages human engagement in smart cities. RoadBotics A tool that uses smartphone monitoring to improve road maintenance.0 Qucit This software aggregates urban planning data and uses AI to optimize everything from emergency response times to park planning.

Studio Gang’s new 51-story Brooklyn tower is revealed

Renderings for the new Studio Gang-designed 11 Hoyt condo development in downtown Brooklyn have been released. It will be the Chicago-based firm’s first residential project in New York City and located next to the downtown Brooklyn Macy’s building. Topping out at 51 stories at 664 feet, 11 Hoyt will be among the tallest buildings in Brooklyn—taller than any existing structure and only beat by the yet-to-be-completed City Point Tower III and the under-construction 1,066-foot skyscraper at 9 Dekalb Avenue designed by SHoP Architects. Built on the site of a former parking garage demolished for the project, 11 Hoyt is part of a broader set of changes and high-rise construction happening in downtown Brooklyn. The foundation is already laid with construction of the concrete superstructure to begin soon for an anticipated 2020 completion. The tower is distinguished by its rippling facade and punctuated by square windows, adding a textural quality to Brooklyn’s growing skyline.The luxury building will have 480 residences with interiors by Michaelis Boyd Associates, as well as 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenities. Landscape design of the significant outdoor space will be overseen by Hollander Design. The site is being developed by Tishman Speyer, who is also behind the major changes to the adjacent Macy’s building, which includes the addition of a ten-story office tower designed by Shimoda Design Group.

An exclusive look at Studio Libeskind’s first New York City building

Daniel Libeskind has been a New York City resident since his teenage years, but, as has been noted, the acclaimed architect has yet to realize a ground-up project there. That may be about to change, as Studio Libeskind has released renderings of its geometric Sumner Houses Senior Building, set to rise in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. The collaboration between Libeskind and the city is part of the broader Housing New York 2.0’s “Seniors First” program, a commitment to build affordable senior housing on land owned by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). The move was first announced in a January press release where NYCHA, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) jointly announced four new partnerships under its 100% Affordable Housing program, its NextGen Neighborhoods program, and its FHA Vacant Homes program. Libeskind has been tapped to design senior housing on the western “site 2” parcel of the Sumner Houses superblock, a NYCHA-owned plot on the northern edge of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The 10-story, 129,928-square-foot apartment building will hold 197 permanently affordable units, along with over 10,000-square feet of ground-level community space for residents along Marcus Garvey Boulevard. “I am extremely grateful and inspired by this opportunity to contribute to the Bed-Stuy community,” said Libeskind in a statement sent to AN. “I believe I can speak for our entire team that our goal is to serve the senior community by creating homes that give a sense of civic pride and create more much needed affordable housing in New York City.” The firm’s design is a definite break from the boxy brick buildings commonly seen in affordable housing throughout the neighborhood. Libeskind has taken a more geometric approach, twisting and cutting away at the typical rectangular form to create an almost crystalline structure. According to Libeskind, the alternating open and solid elements and series of lifts and cuts are meant to create a lively interaction with the street and surrounding area. The building’s mass twists and lifts as it rises, and the double-height, glazed entrance lobby should give expansive views of the surrounding Sumner Houses block. Inside, corridor sightlines have been aligned to look inward on a central public courtyard. Construction on the Sumner Houses Senior Building should be complete in 2020. A comprehensive fact sheet on the building's affordability breakdown can be found here.

Check out in-progress photos and new renderings of the Domino Sugar Factory

Ahead of its June 2018 opening date, Domino Sugar Factory developer Two Trees Management has released new renderings of the project’s forthcoming park, as well as opened the site up for a tour. AN had a chance to check out the James Corner Field Operations-designed Domino Park, as well as the completed 325 Kent Avenue and the ongoing interior demolition at the Domino Sugar Refinery. The SHoP Architects-designed 325 Kent, a doughnut-shaped rental building set back from the Williamsburg waterfront, was the first building to reach completion at the SHoP-master planned site. The 16-story, 500-unit rental building (105 of them affordable) began welcoming residents back in September of 2017. As the weather warms up, residents will get to make use of the rooftop amenities on display, such as curved concrete furniture, lounge chairs, and the central strip of courtyard that runs between the building’s central arch. Domino Park is taking shape at the foot of 325 Kent and is on track to open in only 8 weeks. The quarter-mile-long park breaks its programming into “active” and “passive” activity spaces, with the more active areas located closer to the thrum of the Williamsburg Bridge. The second Domino Sugar Factory tower, the mixed-use, COOKFOX-designed 260 Kent, is on track to open in 2019. A dog run, two bocce ball courts, a 6,300-square-foot “flexible playing field” and a volleyball court make up the more energetic half. At the other end, a Japanese Pine garden, 80-to-100 person picnic area, and the Danny Meyer-run taqueria, Tacocina, will sit at the quieter half of the park. A technicolored children’s play space designed by artist Mark Reigelman, with industrial pieces inspired by the sugar refining process, can be found at the passive end of the park, as can 585-linear-feet of elevated walkway. The walkway sits directly on top of Tacocina, and incorporates 21 steel columns from the former Raw Sugar Warehouse into its superstructure; the sight will be a familiar one to visitors familiar with Kara Walker’s The Sugar Sphinx. Linking each area along the waterfront will be the Artifact Walk, a five-block-long stretch that proudly displays historical refining artifacts salvaged from the site. Four 36-foot tall cylindrical syrup tanks embedded in the Syrup Tank Garden, mooring bollards, signage, and corkscrews have been installed across an elevated platform on the water’s edge. Damaged during Hurricane Sandy, the existing platform was raised to a uniform height above the river, and the new piles have been encased in concrete. To build a historical link to the pre-existing structure, a hole has been cut in the platform and visitors can view the existing wood posts and river below. Work on gutting the Domino Sugar Refinery is still ongoing, in anticipation of the PAU-designed glassy office space that will soon sit within. While the exterior of the factory has been landmarked, preserving the interiors would have been impossible due to the interconnected nature of the refining machinery. Even though the factory shut down in 2004, the thick smell of molasses is still hanging around the building at the time of writing. As for the park, although it’s technically private, Two Trees has opened the expanse to the public and is working closely with the New York City Parks Department. A representative from the development company has stated that James Corner Field had their designs reviewed and approved by Parks, that the stretch will operate on normal NYC park hours (dawn to dusk), and that they’ve given the city permission to claim the park if maintenance falls behind. AN will provide a final look at the finished Domino Sugar Park once the project is completed this summer. COOKFOX's 260 Kent will be featured in detail at the upcoming Facades+ workshop "K. Domino Site A: Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) & When and Why to Use It" on April 20.

Artist Cj Hendry makes it all about the art in a monochrome-hued house

Australian-born artist Cj Hendry has dropped a full-sized house inside of a 22,000-square-foot warehouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, as part of a new solo exhibition that probes the relationship between art and interior design. MONOCHROME will run from April 5 through 8, and features seven different rooms, each painted in single color palettes in deference to the art hanging in each. MONOCHROME, Hendry's fifth solo exhibition, is a departure for an artist known for her hyperrealistic black-and-white pen drawings of pop and kitsch items. The show centers around a series of crumpled Pantone swatch painting in each room of a 10,000-square-foot house, from which the surrounding environment draws its singular color scheme. Seven rooms throughout the exhibition, each playing off of a typical housing typology, have each been painted in their own bold color. The kitchen is green, the bedroom is fully yellow, a bathroom has been rendered in purple, the lounge in blue, the office in orange, the dining room in red, and a woman’s bedroom in pink. “People generally buy art as the last item, they find art to match their home,” said Hendry in a statement sent to AN. “I have become close with my collectors over the years and have noticed how differently they live their lives. Art is the first thing they add to a space and they design their entire home around their collection. I have taken this concept to an extreme level. Each room has been designed to emulate the art on the wall. The art is the focus, everything matches the art.” Hendry added that the drawings of crumpled color cards and resultant painting of each room was meant to give color itself a “physicality”. The interplay between familiar forms and unconventional color–an Eames Lounge Chair painted orange, yellow blue jeans–lends the items within a heightened air of artificiality. Monochrome will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. at 276 Greenpoint Avenue in Greenpoint from April 5 through April 8.

A show of monumental light “drawings” transforms space at Pioneer Works

Legendary English light artist Anthony McCall has brought his ethereal explorations of time, form and cinema to Brooklyn, with a new show at the Pioneer Works cultural center in Redhook through March 11. Solid Light Works uses the venue’s 30-foot-tall ceilings to project monumental light “drawings” through a pitch-black, smoky room, creating explorable sculptures that have form but lack physicality. McCall’s work have always been presented as experiences rather than pieces, with his light sculptures contracting and expanding over time and constantly changing the relationship between the viewer and the art. Solid Light Works continues that tradition here, with four vertical and two horizontal installations that were selectively chosen from the artist’s bank of over 250 potential pieces. Speaking at a Pioneer Works panel discussion on February 27, McCall discussed how the works in the show, while not site-specific, were all “site sensitive”; after the sculptures were chosen, curator Gabriel Florenz worked with McCall to build out a unique exhibition space complete with controlled sightlines and room for the lengthy horizontal projections. Somewhere between a line drawing, sculpture, and structure, McCall has described the inhabitable portions of his works as “islands of serenity,” where viewers are sandwiched between seemingly tangible walls of light and treated to an experience that feels holy. Drawing on the language of film, all of McCall’s work relies on wipes, a film technique where one image quickly slides over another, to shift the structure of the piece over much longer spans of time. McCall explained that while short performances might draw crowds, the same experience stretched out into an all-day event attracted singular patrons interested in interacting with the work. Much has changed since McCall staged his first light sculpture, Line Describing a Cone. In his landmark 1973 film, the artist uses a projector to “draw” a circle with a projector in a smoke-filled room, creating a three-dimensional cone in the process. Gone is the cigarette smoke used as a transmission medium in the first showing. Moreover, moving to digital projection from film has enabled McCall to realize the towering sculptures at Pioneer Works; film projectors were simply too heavy to hang vertically. Technology has also changed the audience, and visitors might find that the delicate pieces have been drowned out by ambient smartphone light. Pioneer Works will be showing Solid Light Works through March 11, but will keep the installation (and the building) open for 48 straight hours from March 10 through 11. More information about the show can be found here.

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.

URBAN-X’s latest startups bring AI to urban roads, floating cameras to the skies

At URBAN-X’s latest demo day, held at the nARCHITECTS-designed ADO creative hub in Greenpoint, Brooklyn yesterday, the incubator's third batch of cohorts presented technological solutions to urban problems, ranging from a “smart crane” to collaborative retail for small stores. URBAN-X, a startup accelerator and partnership between MINI and Urban Us, takes on up to 10 companies every six months, invests up to $100,000 in each, and connects them with business and design expertise. The most recent group, with nine companies, debuted products and services that were designed to change the way we live in cities, with a focus on the human-centric experience. Qucit (Quantified Cities) is attempting to improve not only urban mobility, but happiness, through artificial intelligence. While other companies have focused on monitoring narrow bands of things such as transit ridership, street usage, bike docking and other urban information, Qucit wants to integrate all of this information vertically into a cohesive model. By aggregating usage data, Qucit has already helped redesign a dangerous roundabout in Paris, and will be bringing its machine learning services to Downtown Brooklyn for a pilot project in early March. Swiftera is approaching similar problems from the air. By using a balloon and floating a camera above what drones can reach, but below satellites, the company is promising high-resolution imagery at specific locations with a short turnaround. By selling actionable geospatial data to planners, developers, architects and municipalities, Swiftera would be able to help monitor traffic and accessibility, as well as things such as roof conditions. Blueprint Power is addressing the disconnect between the energy grid and buildings by creating a market for the surplus energy that buildings are capable of producing. When the grid is stressed, buildings with co-gen plants or solar panels should be able to transfer their extra electricity back to the larger network, benefiting both the building owner as well as the general public and utility companies. This transformation of buildings into “intelligent energy nodes” would ultimately see the buildings’ energy systems automated and managed by an AI system. The complete list of cohorts and their pitch videos can be found here, as well as a video of their evening conference. While most of the group has already begun working with real-world companies, they will also be seeking venture capital funding in the near future. Keep an eye out for URBAN-X’s fourth cohort, which will be announced in May of this year.

Brooklyn Navy Yard to double in size after $2.5 billion investment

Already in the midst of a massive expansion, the Brooklyn Navy Yard is set to get even bigger. As first reported by Bloomberg, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), a non-profit group that manages and develops the yard, is set to reveal a $2.5 billion expansion plan that would double the manufacturing hub’s square footage. Space in the Navy Yard has been getting tight as of late, with an ongoing $1 billion expansion renovating the rest of the existing buildings on the 4.8-million-square foot campus, and as WeWork’s 16-story waterfront office building, designed by S9 Architecture, nears completion. “We’ve reached a point where we have really finished rehabbing all of the existing buildings at the yard, and we’ve been over 99 percent leased for the past decade,” Clare Newman, executive vice president of the BNYDC, told Bloomberg. The new long-term plan will add an additional 5.1 million square feet of vertical floor space to the 4.8-million-square-foot campus, and create more room for manufacturers as well as tech-oriented office space. While the Navy Yard currently employs 7,000 people in a variety of fields, from carpentry to farming, the first stage of the expansion is expected to boost that number to 20,000. The BNYDC predicts those figures will blast up to 30,000 once the long-term build-out is complete. As the BNYDC is an interim group that manages the Navy Yard for New York City, who owns the site, they’ve chosen to fund the $2.5 billion plan through a combination of tenant revenue, government grants, and tax breaks. The Navy Yard’s enlargement is driven in part by the Navy Yard’s success in attracting traditional and high-tech manufacturers, and the campus’s limited size; Newman notes that creative companies and designers often start off strong and outgrow the Navy Yard. By offering larger facilities, the BNYDC can retain this talent on-site. The newest expansion plan will likely kick off with the construction of a 2.7 million-square-foot complex on top of what’s currently being used as a parking lot for cars and trucks. While no timetable has been set yet, the first building will probably hold 75 percent manufacturing space and 25 percent office space for technology and creatives. The second building will likely contain the same mix of space and be built on what is currently being used as a tow lot for the New York Police Department. The third complex in the long-term plan will be built on what is now the Bureau of Prisons supply depot, the last federal tenant in the Navy Yard. The three sites in question are:
  • Kent Avenue (approximately 13 acres)
  • Flushing Avenue (approximately 6.5 acres)
  • Navy Street (approximately 5 acres)
Other than WeWork’s Dock 72 office building, the current Navy Yard growth plan involves the conversion of Admirals row into a Wegmans supermarket, the expansion of the Brooklyn College Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema by Dattner, and Beyer Blinder Belle’s ongoing renovation of the 1-million-square-foot Building 77.