Posts tagged with "Brooklyn":

Potential Pyramid Scheme in DUMBO

Is NYC's next architectural adventure shaped like a pyramid? Maybe, if one of the groups competing for usage space in Brooklyn's historic Tobacco Warehouse has its way. The recently stabilized structure  is currently under the purview of the powers-that-be at the new Brooklyn Bridge Park, which sees the Warehouse as "most compelling public spaces" in the city's quest to spruce up the Brooklyn waterfront. Our friends at Curbed have some renderings of what dance and theater troupe LAVA would like to do if they win the great space race for this (currently) roofless brick structure that seems to sidle up next to the Brooklyn Bridge. This blogger has to wonder if it's less a pyramid and more a volcano (LAVA... volcano... get it?) Meanwhile, contestant #2, the DUMBO-based theater group St. Ann's Warehouse, has more a conventional, but potentially more contextually palatable, idea of what they'd like a revamped Tobacco Warehouse to look like.

Despite an appeal by former Partridge Family star and 1970s teen idol Susan Dey to send the contract out for re-bidding at Monday's tempestuous public meeting, the folks at Curbed are putting their money on St. Ann's to win the conditional designation sometime soon. (Leave us your predictions in the comments section below.)

Have Your Say On the Future of the BQE Monday Evening

It's not too late to join community leaders from the Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Columbia Street Waterfront neighborhoods along with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to discuss the future of the Bronx-Queens Expressway.  The third and final BQE Community Design Workshop takes place this evening and will cover refined designed proposals aimed to reconnect areas surrounding the urban expressway. Act quickly, as the final Community Design Workshop takes place this evening from 6:30PM until 8:30PM at the Long Island College Hospital (LICH), Avram Conference Center, Rooms A and B located at 339 Hicks Street in Brooklyn.  Attendance is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested at BQE@nycedc.com. Among topics to be discussed are noise reduction, pollution mitigation, beautification, connectivity, and pedestrian safety.  The BQE Enhancement project target area is bounded by Hamilton Avenue and Atlantic Avenue and is planned to be built in the next five to ten years.

Zero Energy Red Hook Green Gets Zero Help From City

Red Hook Green gets a red light from the NYC Department of Buildings.  Brooklyn's touted "brownstone of the future" is up against the ropes after a zoning decision ruled the mixed-use building cannot proceed as planned.  Jay Amato's ultra-sustainable, shipping-container chic Red Hook Green was denied its proposed accessory residential use on industrially zoned land, officially throwing the entire project into limbo. Designed by Garrison Architects, Red Hook Green was to be a model of sustainability in the Brooklyn neighborhood.  The 4,000 square foot net-zero-energy structure would have provided live-work space with an array of green technologies including a solar car charging station, photovoltaic panels, and an ultra-insulated building envelope. It was that residential component that ran Red Hook Green afoul with the DOB.  By law, the accessory residence cannot exceed 15 percent of the building's gross area - and in fact the space in question only comprised 12 percent of the total area - but the city saw the entire structure as too small to warrant such a space to begin with.  Amato shares the latest on the RHG blog:
As of yesterday, my dream of building the first net Zero-Energy work live building in Brooklyn seems to be officially DEAD! ... I was advised that given my particular use, I could  make an “M” zoned plot work.  What that means is that given the majority of my structure was to be dedicated to commercial use, the living quarters would be an ‘accessory’ to the true function of the building.  Therefore we would request the building department grant us permission to live in what would is called a “caretakers apartment”, which would be incidental to it’s primary use.
The Brooklyn Paper spoke with the architect about the current state of Red Hook:
Garrison saw his defeat as part of an ongoing conflict in Red Hook between residential and manufacturing. “It’s been a battleground,” Garrison said because industrial businesses do not want Red Hook to become residential. So Garrison’s lot remains zoned for manufacturing, even though it is actually too small to be used for anything except residential. “Common sense is not prevailing here,” Garrison said.
Red Hook blog A View from the Hook shares this sentiment, pointing out that the lot where the project was to be built is next to two residential structures. We'll see how Amato proceeds from here.  Three options he's considering - redefine the project as an office building, file for a zoning variance with its requisite costs and delays, or scrap the site and begin anew somewhere else - will surely add time, cost, and frustration to the already ambitious project.

Bring to Light Fest Shines on Brooklyn

If New York is the city that never sleeps, how come it took us so long to get around to hosting our own Nuit Blanche (French for "Sleepless Night")? The global all-night festival of arts began in Paris, Berlin, and St. Petersburg way back in 1997, and has spread around the world in the years since. This Saturday, October 2, starting at 7:00 p.m., Brooklyn will host our city's first Nuit Blanche, rechristened "Bring to Light" by local organizers DoTank:Brooklyn and producers Furnace Media. Over 50 artists and performers will converge on Greenpoint's Oak St. between Franklin St. and the East River, taking over street corners, galleries, vacant lots, and rooftops to showcase their work. Although the range of media is broad -- some visual, some performative, some interactive -- the common threads running through them are light and sound. Among the highlights are Kant Smith's Small Explosion, a fiery cloud, a trompe-l'oeuil oil painting brought to life with rear illumination. Roselyn Anderson's Giant Puppet in His Natural Habitat is an installation comprising a giant puppet, three sculptures of illuminated meat, and a fluttering crowd of animatronic birds. And for ten percussive minutes, Tom Peyton enlists the help of a dozen drummers to turn Oak Street's scaffolding into a musical instrument. The event is free and open to the public; more info here.

Showtime for school in rundown Brownsville Theater

Like many outlying parts of the city, Brownsville fell hard from its turn-of-the-century grandeur, with decaying reminders of its former greatness. Among them is the Loews Pitkin Theater, once home to the likes of Jackie Gleason, Milton Berle, Humphrey Bogart, and Al Joelson's last performance, as well as thousands of eager movie goers. The building has been closed since 1969—until last week, when a ground breaking was held for a new charter school and retail complex. Curbed and Brownstoner were among those in attendance, and they got some pretty amazing pictures of the building's decrepit interiors (see some after the jump). We've since been sent the above rendering by the developers, POKO Partners, who are working with Kitchen & Associates, a firm based in Collingswood, New Jersey on the renovation. According to POKO, the project will mesh what remains of the building's sumptuous Art Deco interiors with high-tech, sustainable features, creating something at once historic and cutting edge. The base of the building will house some 70,000 square feet of retail with a 90,000-square-foot, 1,100-seat elementary and middle school above, run by Ascend Learning. The project is expected to be completed in the next 18 months. "The Loews Pitkin Theater is exciting because it embodies POKO¹s core values of revitalizing neighborhoods and enhancing communities through positive and responsible real estate development," POKO President and CEO Ken Olson said in a release.

Superfront Hawks a Different Dialectic in Brooklyn

Urban Omnibus has put together another great video, this time on Superfront, a new-ish storefront collaborative space on the further reaches of Atlantic Avenue. (We're partial to it not only because it's a cool idea but also one of us is moving around the corner and also happens to have a friend who lives in the back of the space from time to time.) The video is basically an interview with the space's founder, Mitch McEwan, an ebullient mouthful of architectural contradictions. Our favorite line: "There really aren't a lot of opportunities to make mistakes in architecture. And this is an opportunity for me to make mistakes in architecture." Now what's yours?

Design Writer Has Sweet Dreams for New Domino

The simmering opposition to the New Domino plan from the local community and especially its City Council rep has been well-noted, but the reaction from the design community has been more muted. And while the approval from the City Planning Commission, and the forthcoming showdown at with Councilman Steve Levin mean the project is pretty much headed for an up-or-down, maybe slightly tweaked if not entirely scrapped vote, design writer Stephen Zacks had made a bolder proposal, calling for the plan to be scrapped not because it is too dense and under invested, but because it is not visionary enough. "These unique sites are opportunities to generate new forms of urbanism and orders of magnitude greater revenue, instead producing the high volumes of similar units that are now languishing on the market," Zacks declares in a letter to the Council (in full, after the jump). He has a few ideas of his own, something called Domino University, but is also soliciting them from others. Feel free to leave them in the comments section, or on his Facebook page.
Dear Honorable Members of the New York City Council: As a part of the New York City community of architects, designers, and urbanists, we recognize that condo developments in upzoned areas have brought enormous benefits to the public through new tax revenues, high-quality architecture, affordable housing, waterfront parks, and remediation of brownfield sites. But as the market has seemed to have been over-saturated by condos and the rental vacancy rate remains unaffected by the inclusionary rezoning process, we are inviting you to consider a new model of development for the Domino Sugar site, one of the great icons of manufacturing in the area of North Brooklyn and, indeed, the United States. As you may know, Domino was the first sugar company to use branding to sell its products, and it remains one of the most recognizable brands in the country. We believe that the current plan to preserve the landmarked buildings and provide open space, affordable housing, waterfront access, and generous community space is a good start, but we think there can be a more ambitious and visionary approach to this site‹and to waterfront development in general‹which embraces the history of Domino and uses the site to prove that there is another way. As a city, we have progressed far beyond the point we had to beg developers to invest in New York. We are in the unique position of having investors compete for the right to put billions of dollars into complicated sites that require hundreds of millions in infrastructure, even during the worst recession in decades. The Domino site presents an absolutely unparalleled opportunity, and we ask whether its redevelopment according to the same model befits its enormous significance. While we have made great progress, this model still has not lived up to the standards for design and urbanism that the city must aspire to for the next century. The Domino Sugar site is Williamsburg¹s High Line. It is clear that the market is still supporting well-designed, high-quality architecture and urbanism. These unique sites are opportunities to generate new forms of urbanism and orders of magnitude greater revenue, instead producing the high volumes of similar units that are now languishing on the market. We believe that Rafael Viñoly is a superb architect capable of great work, but this inclusionary condo model does not permit the creativity and dynamism that could be supported by this architect, this community, this site, or this city. We ask you to send this plan back for revision, to incorporate the care and attention to detail in site planning and land use that it deserves. As a body empowered with the ability to accept or reject this plan but not, perhaps, to propose a new model of development, we ask you to take a risk. We all remember the terrible plight of New York during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, and we never want to go back to a time when burning buildings was more profitable than designing new ones. Rejecting a 1.5 billion dollar investment in our city, especially one that is loaded with community benefits, is a risky step. But it¹s also a vote of confidence in New York City: that we can do better, that we can begin to create a city and an architecture, and a model of urban development that is fitting for a world-class city, a city that embraces its immigrant communities, a city that is in constant transformation as every generation takes hold of it and reshapes it for itself. We ask you to consider the Domino site an example for what can be accomplished in every neighborhood and every district in the city with more attention to detail, more care, more originality, and a greater level of inclusion, not represented by percentages of units, but by a vision that connects to the history of the place and the future of the city. The Domino University plan is the beginning of a process that can begin to impact the core problem that we still face after decades of redevelopment: a rental vacancy rate that remains below three percent. We need new housing in New York City, but not of this kind. It's time to explore a new way, and the Domino site is the place where it can begin to happen. Respectfully, Stephen Zacks

Now Playing: Every Corner of New York

Our friends over at Urban Omnibus created this delightful video entitled Archipelago, a sort of cinematic corollary to the current New New York show at the site's mothership, the Architectural League. Billed as "a day in the life of five New York neighborhoods: Hunts Point, Jamaica, Mariner’s Harbor, Downtown Brooklyn, and Chelsea," the video really is amazing for how it so succinctly captures the mind-boggling diversity of the city, revealing both the familiar and obscure to even the most stalwart local in a way so seamless that the city, for once, seems truly bound together despite all its disparity. The soundtrack alone, from Mr. Softee in the Bronx to freestyling on Staten Island to the constant sirens, is irresistible. It's the fastest eleven-and-a-half minutes you'll watch for some time. Almost as fast as the city it chronicles.

Walmart? Fugedaboutit!

In the last Midwest issue, we recounted Walmarts struggles to infiltrate urban centers, notably in Chicago. But the world's largest retailer and the nation's largest employer has also been eying New York for years, and the Daily News reports that it is making a new push in Brooklyn, which has already met resistance from locals and labor without even being officially announced. The weird thing, though, is how eerily similar there approach is in East New York as with the Pullman project on Chicago's Far South Side. Both are meant to be the anchor tenant in a larger mixed-use development that involves affordable housing (the former is part of Gateway II, the latter Pullman Park) located in the fringes of their respective cities, places that have been historically economically depressed. This puts Walmart in a better position of arguing that the area is in need of jobs, any jobs, not to mention affordable housing, so how dare politicians and unions try to stop it. Whether it works in Brooklyn or the Far South Side, only time will tell, but if Kingsbridge is any indication, it probably won't happen in the Five Boroughs any time soon. Pullman, however, might be an entirely different story, as Mayor Daley continues to agitate for the project's approval.

He Fought the Good Fight

It appears this is the end of one of the greatest real estate battles since Jane Jacobs took on Robert Moses. But just as Penn Station was demolished and replaced by Madison Square Garden, Daniel Goldstein's apartment building will soon go, replaced by the Barclays Center. We just received an unusual release from Forest City Ratner saying simply that the company "today reached an agreement with the remaining resident residing in the project’s footprint" and would not comment further. Goldstein's name was not even mentioned, and while we're waiting to hear back ourselves, the Times confirms it, along with the rather astounding fact that he was paid $3 million for his condo. The unit was originally bought in 2003 for $590,000, though the state notoriously offered only $510,000 last year, citing neighborhood blight. This comes on the heels of news yesterday that deals had been struck with the remaining 7 holdouts, including Freddy's Bar, which now hopes to move to somewhere near 4th and Union avenues, not too far from its current home.

Bombing and Boosting Domino

As the redevelopment of the massive Domino Sugar refinery on the WIlliamsburg waterfront continues to trudge through the city's public review process, what remains of the once mighty sweetener plant continues to deteriorate—or improve, depending on your attitudes towards street art. Following on the footsteps of the busted windows some feared would cause water damage to the main refinery building, now warring graffiti crews have set up shop on the bin building. A concrete addition from the 1960s that will be demolished to make way for some of Rafael Viñoly's 2,200 apartments, the bin building has now been bombed by no fewer than 5 graffiti writers. But it's not all bad news for the development, as it won conditional approval from Borough President Marty Markowitz on Friday, though some of those conditions are pretty steep if also in line with the demands of the local community board, which does not support the project. They include reduced bulk and density for the project; more and better subway service, especially on the L, for all those new residents; and room for a school, supermarket, and "possible artisan establishments" within the development.

The Bright Side of Collapse

It may have been a jarring reminder of the two deadly crane accidents two springs before, but fortunately little more. A smaller mobile crane toppled onto 80 Maiden Lane in the Financial District on Saturday evening, but it caused little damage and no fatalities, unlike the collapse of two tower cranes in March and May 2008, which claimed seven and two lives, respectively. The exact cause of this latest accident remains unknown, but it was believed to be a combination of human error (the boom was not sufficiently lowered) and mechanical failure (bad hydraulics). In a twist of fate, the crane fell onto the building occupied by the city's Department of Inspections, which is charged with routing out the corrupt inspectors who let the prior accidents happen, though there appears to be no malfeasance in this incident. Two days later, two Brooklyn condos under construction collapsed, one injuring two four workers. This reminds us that last year there were but three construction fatalities in the city, down from 19 in 2008, partly because of stricter safety standards but also less work. While such construction accidents are unacceptable, they are also, as the mayor has said, the cost of doing business. The good news, then, appears to be that the city may finally be back in business.