This post is part of our years-long running Eavesdrop series (think page 6 for the architectural field). It’s your best source for gossip, insider stories, and more. Have an eavesdrop of your own? Send it to: eavesdrop[at]archpaper.com.
It turns out not everyone loves a pollution-free alternative to CO2-belching cars and overcrowded public transportation in Brooklyn. At a Community Board 6 (CB6) meeting last month, one longtime Cobble Hill resident lashed out at a board member over the location of the neighborhood’s new bikeshare docking stations. Even though the locations of the Citi Bike stations have been public knowledge for nearly a year, the resident was captured on video yelling at the member, who sits on the board’s transportation subcommittee: “Is there a bike stand in front of your house? What are you gonna do? “You’re gonna hit me? What are you gonna do?” An anonymous attendee called the NYPD to intervene but no arrests were made.
Opened last July, official images of the Interim Brooklyn Heights Library have been released. Designed by New York studio Leven Betts, the space will be a three-year temporary home for the branch until construction of the new library—part of a high-rise development at 280 Cadman Plaza West—is complete. The interim facility is located in the parish hall at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, 109 Remsen Street. Development firm, The Hudson Companies is behind the project.
Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper through email, Leven Betts said how they "designed the Interim space to be a light-filled pleasant space of reading, learning, and community gathering that would function seamlessly for the branch and community while the new building was constructed." The firm also described their design strategy as "simple," aiming to "maximize the openness of the existing parish hall space while still providing for private spaces at the librarian staff area and the Multi-Purpose Room." The solution they said, "is a single translucent wall that bellies out at the ends to create the private spaces with access to light and fresh air and curves in at the middle to create a large shared open space for reading, studying and browsing books."
Using Panelit—a translucent honeycomb-like material—the wall has Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry printed onto it. Whitman's work can be read in full as it spans the wall's 100-foot length. "The response to the design has been very positive," said Leven Betts. In fact, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) President and CEO Linda E. Johnson said: “With its bright interior and comfortable environment for attending a program, learning a new skill or simply browsing the shelves, the interim Brooklyn Heights Library is as welcoming and inspiring as the neighborhood it serves." According to Leven Betts, BPL administrators praised the quality and speed of the project (which took one year from commencement of design to completion of construction).
Leven Betts are currently working on the total renovation of two other BPL projects, one in East Flatbush Brooklyn and one in Borough Park.
A familiar narrative of urban change is playing out in what one clickbait article after another deems "the world's coolest neighborhood": Naive hipster newcomers, purveyors of mallcore architecture, and real estate speculators are descending on Bushwick, Brooklyn, raising rents and displacing the longtime Latino community.
This time, Local group NORTH WEST BUSHWICK COMMUNITY is fighting back, with maps.
The group, a coalition of neighborhood activists, recently launched the North West Bushwick Community Map, an online tool that shares urban planning and housing data with residents and activists to mobilize against the twin forces of gentrification and displacement.
The map depicts an area roughly bounded by Flushing Avenue to the east; Cypress Avenue to the north; Cemetery of the Evergreens to the west; and Broadway to the south. Over the base map, users can toggle between six layers that reveal patterns of development and residential stability: Tax Lots, Year Built, Land Use, Vacant Land, Available FAR, and Likely Rent Stabilized. There's an overlay that depicts "DOB Jobs" in two categories—new buildings and A1 (major alterations)—as well as one that shares "Sites of Gentrification." Also included are three interviews with a longtime artist-resident (link was dead at press time); an organizer with Make the Road, and a co-founder of Silent Barn, the beloved DIY venue-slash-community space.
Like all maps, this one richly illustrates its makers' outlook and objectives, explicitly and by omission. Average rents in Bushwick have increased six percent over last year, and the group takes a decidedly dim view of the landlords and real estate actors that affect change in the neighborhood. Gentrification and displacement are "urban vices," which lends a moral imperative to the map—housing as a human right. The creators note that investors and real estate agents use "costly websites" to search for properties and that Bushwick, consequently, needed a free map to chart—and combat—changes. (It's not clear if this map could be a boon for investors, as its wealth of granular information could be used to pinpoint particularly vulnerable blocks, for example.)
AN reached out to NORTH WEST BUSHWICK COMMUNITY for comment, but a representative from the group could not be reached at press time.
According to the group's site, beta testing for the map launched in 2014, and the final version debuted at an August 25 launch party. The map key states that many residents are not aware that they may be living in rent-stabilized units, which comprise almost one-third of Bushwick's housing stock, or that there is legal recourse for fighting shady landlords who push out rent-stabilized tenants to score a vacancy increase. Community organizers who fight displacement can use the map to pinpoint housing trends and focus their efforts accordingly.
Through the "Sites of Gentrification" tab, the map highlights recent struggles over zoning and development at Colony 1209, a development where studios rent for close to $1900 per month; and at the former Rheingold Brewery, which ODA is redeveloping as a one-million-square-foot "European Village." The "Research" tab includes helpful graphics that explain FAR, as well as links to research on rent regulation, DOB Violations, ULURPS, ACRIS, and other handy acronym-heavy resources for right-to-the-city reformers.
The redesigned McCarren Park Skatepark in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, opened June 21, just in time for the official annual holiday known as Go Skateboarding Day. The skatepark was originally constructed behind the massive McCarren Park Pool, which itself reopened in 2012 after a $50 million renovation. The pool was one of 11 built in the summer of 1936 by Works Progress Administration laborers under Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and Robert Moses.
The skatepark was designed and constructed within its original footprint by California Skateparks. The company is responsible for many of the city’s most popular skating venues, including the ones at Pier 62, in Tribeca, and underneath the Manhattan Bridge on the Lower East Side.
The redesign adds poured concrete ramps and quarter pipes, and also replaces the existing rails and benches. A key to a successful skatepark design is the ability for skaters to naturally create a “line” between objects for a succession of tricks. The designers collaborated with both professional skateboarders and members of the community, who have been using the park since its initial opening in 2009.
Nike Skateboarding funded the $315,000 for design and construction and threw a block party to celebrate the opening. “The revamped McCarren skatepark is an exciting new addition to this magnificent, busy park,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver in a statement.
Bayard and Lorimer Streets, Brooklyn, NY
Designer: California Skateparks
Ground has broke on the site of the Fire Department of New York's (FDNY) newest firehouse, designed by Chicago-based Studio Gang for the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC). Set to cost $32 million, the 21,000-square-foot building will sit on 1815 Sterling Place in Brownsville, Brooklyn and become the new home of the FDNY's Rescue Company 2.
Founded in 1925, Rescue Company 2 is one of FDNY’s five rescue companies, elite units that handle a variety of emergency situations ranging from building collapses, high-angle rescues, hazardous materials incidents, water rescues as well as fires. In their new location, Rescue Company 2 will use the building to train for all these scenarios and many more. The project is Studio Gang's first in New York and as a result they have opened up a new Manhattan office.
The Architect's Newspaper attended the groundbreaking ceremony and spoke with Studio Gang design principle Weston Walker about the firm's design process and approach to the project. "We wanted the design to fit the [low-rise] scale of the street, while accommodating all the unusual training that will take place here" Walker said. Training facilities will also include specific areas for trench rescue and confined space rescue training as well as a room to simulate the smoke-filled environments in which firefighters operate, and an elevated area that allows firefighters to train to rappel from the roof of a building to perform a rescue.
The project's design drivers were "apertures and openings" that paid heavy respect to both the site and typology traditions. Demonstrating this, he pointed out the numerous openings—visible in the renders above—that "ease the building's oppressiveness" in massing. A subtractive structure, the openings allow for interior landscaping as well as facilitate natural ventilation. This is also aided by the fact that the building will be the first firehouse in New York to have a drive-through concourse on the ground floor.
The building aims to be as energy efficient as possible. Due to sit 500 feet below the structure is a geothermal heating system. A solar water heating system has also been included which is due to reduce the energy required to heat and cool the building by a third. In addition to this, a green roof and permeable pavement will be implemented to aid the reduction of stormwater runoff and further cut down on the firehouse's carbon footprint.
“In keeping with Mayor de Blasio’s vision for a healthier, more sustainable and resilient city, DDC is proud to partner with FDNY to provide New York’s bravest with a state-of-the-art training and housing facility that is energy efficient and can serve as a beacon of community engagement,” said DDC commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora in a press release. “The design aims to reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and contribute to a healthy urban environment through integrating environmentally responsible practices. A geothermal system, solar water heating system, permeable pavement and a green roof will contribute to this goal and strengthen the City’s commitment to building sustainable, environmentally friendly buildings.”
“We are proud to break ground on a state-of-the-art new home for Brooklyn’s Rescue Company 2. This firehouse will be a leader in energy efficiency, moving our city closer to an environmentally sustainable and resilient future. With ample space for tools and a training facility on the roof, this firehouse will be the impressive space that New York’s bravest deserve,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a press release.
Design rarely ventures into your nose and onto your tongue. Or, at least, not design as most of us recognize it. An exhibition at Brooklyn's Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) Lab explores how flavorists—essentially specialized chemists—have been simulating natural tastes and smells for generations, dramatically shaping our collective palate in the process. (Read our initial coverage of the exhibition, dubbed Flavor: Faking It and Making It, here). But how did Brooklyn-based creative office Labour and MOFAD create a physical exhibition around the ephemeral sensations and nervous stimuli that creative flavor? MOFAD's Program Director Emma Boast sat down with Labour's Ryan Dunn and Wyeth Hansen in a discussion moderated by the MoMA's Paola Antonelli to explore just that.
"Flavor is the synthesis of smell and taste," said Boast, and the exhibit caters to both with multiple flavor pill dispensers and tubes that blow flavor molecule-scented air into your face. In the educational spirit of the exhibition, these smell stations reveal how they work: small glass jars of labelled flavor concentrate are in plain view when you lean into the nozzle. Dunn, Hansen, and Boast wanted to avoid more conventional scented paper samples. Or as Dunn put it, "It had to look bonkers." They contacted a neuroscientist who helped Labour and MOFAD Founder, President, and culinary maestro Dave Arnold develop the smell puffer technology. The consoles are easy to approach and fun to use, in no small part thanks to some familiar design elements. "The brief said it has to have arcade buttons," Dunn said.
When partaking of the smell tubes and flavor pills, there is an inherent leap of faith. When you eat a seaweed umami pill, or inhale a molecule used to simulate lemon flavor, you can't be entirely sure what will happen. And that's very much by design. "Disorientation as a means to discovery," said Hansen, was a core idea in designing the exhibition. The lenticular wall graphic that adorns the exhibition interior similarly disorients visitors, forcing them to decipher its dual meaning. In fact, MOFAD's inaugural exhibition, which traveled around New York City, was even more disorientating: MOFAD deployed an early, industrial cereal "cannon" that popped grains into breakfast cereal with a thunderous, shotgun-like boom. (The machine is on display at MOFAD Lab, but not in use.)
The cereal cannon, which predated the MOFAD Lab, set a high bar. "The lineage we're trying to follow," said Hansen, "it's not easy." While crowds could naturally gather around the cannon, the MOFAD Lab would have to work harder to create a shared experience among visitors. The MOFAD Lab had to be equally democratic: "Food is something we should all be excited about, not just the foodie elite," said Dunn. People do easily mix among the smell machines, and pairs or groups can step up to sample the flavors together. The design "emphasizes community: friends, strangers...it's more intimate," said Hansen.
Antonelli quizzed the trio towards the end, asking if there were crazy ideas for MOFAD Lab that didn't pan out. One such idea was a "tongue theater" that would've projected footage taken from within a chewing mouth onto the walls of a small room. Antonelli and this reported lamented that it didn't come to fruition, but MOFAD one day hopes to inhabit a larger, permanent space, so there may yet be hope.
In the broader context of global food culture, which can range from militant nutritionists to daredevil gourmets, Flavor: Faking It and Making It invites visitors to pause and question our idea of flavor. And critically, it's visceral and not some vicarious television experience. As Antonelli put it, "If I see another white guy chewing on stuff around the world...."
Williamsburg's first office building in more than 50 years is set to rise at 25 Kent Avenue. Designed by San Francisco's Gensler and New York–based Hollwich Kushner (HWKN), the office complex will span 480,000 square feet, rising to eight stories with space available for commercial and manufacturing purposes, as well as an extensive public courtyard area. Brooklyn-based Heritage Equity Partners is the developer.
Crucially, to make the development happen, the city approved a special zoning district that permits developers to trade light manufacturing space for extra office construction.
Approved by the City Council and City Planning Commission, YIMBY reports that the new zoning rules allow for greater design flexibility and mandate less parking to encourage office development. The “Enhanced Business Area” is set to incorporate much of the North Williamsburg Industrial Business Zone, a zoning area which, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, seeks to "protect existing manufacturing districts and encourage industrial growth citywide."
As for the building itself, a stepped-back brick facade respects the surrounding context while certain structural elements are revealed behind glass to establish a modern yet industrial feel. “At the east and west ends of the building, it’s as if an old building was sliced and we put a curtain wall on,” said Joseph Brancato of Gensler. The scheme will also have 16-foot slab-to-slab heights to facilitate adequate daylighting made possible through large windows deployed throughout the building. Per the new zoning regulations, the number of parking spaces have been set to 275—all situated underground. Before the zoning rules kicked in, the scheme would have had to made room for 1,200 parking spaces.
According to Toby Moskovits of Heritage Equity Partners in Brownstoner, the staggered facade enables office and manufacturing spaces to be modular and have greater flexibility. Startups, whatever stage of development they may be in, would be able to step into 25 Kent Avenue at any time, while amenities such as cafes can be positioned centrally on every level.
Moskovits argued that the development will support Williamsburg by “giving economic opportunity to small businesses and people in the community who need jobs.” Moskovits added: “We’re of the community and we are entrepreneurs. Our goal is to tenant the building in a way that makes sense for the neighborhood...We believe passionately in what we are doing."
Opening September 9 this year at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn is an exhibition that will display time capsules from the former San Francisco-based design studio Ant Farm and its contemporary successor LST. Titled The Present Is the Form of All Life: The Time Capsules of Ant Farm and LST, the exhibition will present an interactive media sculpture as well as a chronology of Ant Farm's time capsule works spanning from 1969-75.
LST, comprising Ant Farm’s core members Curtis Schreier and Chip Lord as well as Bruce Tomb, have created a large inflatable structure for the exhibition. The structure, according to a press release, "explores the mutable nature of time perception, media obsolescence, and our shifting cultural attitudes toward preservation, consumer objects and privacy." Typical of the Ant Farm vernacular, the structure and the exhibition touches on utopian dreams and counterculture movements.
Inside the inflatable will be a re-invisioning of Ant Farm's famed Media Van. While set to be nostalgic, the exhibition will present Ant Farm's work from the perspective of their shortcomings. In addition to this, much of the group's never seen before archival works are also set to be displayed. An undated video of Tomb, Schreier, Lord and Paul Rauschelbach inside the van and discussing its functions can be seen here.The exhibition will be also feature a series of lectures from the artists, classes taught through Pioneer Works’ education department, as well as a book: The Present is the Form of All Life: The Time Capsules of Ant Farm and LST.
“Over the course of five decades, and specifically through their time capsule works, Ant Farm and LST have routinely transcended disciplinary boundaries and, through experimentation, pioneered new artistic mediums that challenge viewers to think differently” said exhibition co-curator and Pioneer Works Director Gabriel Florenz in a press release. “Transcending boundaries and encouraging experimentation are at the heart of Pioneer Works' mission. Through this exhibition, we celebrate and hope to learn from those who established the practices and approaches that our organization strives to foster through a diverse range of programs.”
The Present Is the Form of All Life: The Time Capsules of Ant Farm and LST will run through October 21 of this year and was co-curated by Liz Flyntz. See here for more details.
If you zone it, they will build, and they will build tall. New York–based SHoP, in partnership with JDS Development Group, revealed plans earlier this year to build 9 Dekalb Avenue, a 73-story, 1,066-foot-tall residential tower fused to the landmarked Dime Savings Bank in Downtown Brooklyn. Last month, the design cleared a crucial hurdle when the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved the tower’s design and consequent modifications to the bank.
“There’s a sort of brooding Gotham to it,” noted Gregg Pasquarelli, founding principal of SHoP. “There’s a little bit of badass to it, but it’s quite elegant at the same time. Isn’t that what we all want to be as New Yorkers?” The 417-unit building is clad in bronze, stainless steel, and stone, with view-maximizing interlocking hexagonal exposures. Pasquarelli explained that the facade detailing is such so that when two sides of the hexagon are viewed from an oblique angle, it will resemble one face, a sleeker reference to the grand old New York skyscrapers like Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building.
Michael Stern, founder of JDS Development Group, proclaimed: “The tower will be Brooklyn’s next icon. Brooklyn was really missing that one iconic statement that was worthy of the borough. This building will really put Brooklyn on the map.” Drawing from the landmark on-site, the spacing of the tower’s vertical facade elements mirrors the spacing of the bank’s neoclassical columns. The color and materials palette picks up on the bank’s colorful stone interiors, which will be converted to retail, while parts of the bank’s roof will be used for the building’s private outdoor spaces.
“The downtown rezoning of Brooklyn in 2004 has been very successful. This is a place where the city could handle density. It’s an incredible kudos to the city they upzoned that area, that they thought about tall towers,” said Pasquarelli. At the prow of Flatbush and Dekalb, the building will be visible from all over Brooklyn, and its distinctive facade will reinforce its prominent position on the skyline.
He and Stern enjoy experimenting with exteriors. Referencing the terra-cotta facade on 111 West 57th Street and the cladding on the East River–facing American Copper Buildings, Pasquarelli intimated that developers and architects are obligated to build for the public realm. “Some people get to live in these buildings, but we all have to live with the exterior.”
While preservationists sometimes bristle at the modification of an individual landmark, Gina Pollara, executive director of the preservation advocacy organization Municipal
Arts Society (MAS), thinks there’s a larger issue that’s expressed in the development of tall towers like 9 Dekalb. “For us, it’s not really about the towers itself. Most of these supertalls are going up as-of-right. Because they’re not asking for any variance or any change, there’s no opportunity for public comment.” This tower was unusual, she elaborated, because it involved a landmarked structure. “These buildings are so out of context or out of scale with the neighborhood, and there’s no space for public comment until developers release their renderings. There’s no discussion of the cumulative effects these towers are having on public space.”
In an interview with AN, Stern said that he could not react to critiques like MAS’s (which he had not heard about), “but I can tell you that the commissioners had comments ranging from, ‘the best of urbanism’ and ‘flawless,’ and the LPC approved the project unanimously, as did the community board. It’s something we’re quite proud of.”
Pollara would like to see a better conversation around the 100-year-old zoning code, and reform beyond Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability, the recently codified zoning text amendments. “It’s time to make zoning much more transparent—not just to the layperson, but to elected official,” Pollara said. “We need to get in front of the issue rather than being at the mercy of what is being built around us. Preservation in the 21st century is not necessarily rallying around a specific building, but looking at open space, light, air—all of the elements we want to preserve. We don’t want to live in a city that’s created by default.”
“The facade is almost alive, it’s always dynamic and changing.” - Luca Andrisani
“Aperture 538,” the name of Luca Andrisani Architect’s 10-unit, multi-family residence on Washington Avenue in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, says it all: Apertures, or perforations, are the main feature of Andrisani’s imaginative, airy and eco-friendly design, from the copper scrim wall that sheaths its facade to the black metal handrails lining the units’ balconies. Developed by Sam Boymelgreen LLC, and opened June 2015, the building is adjacent to many of the neighborhood’s iconic 19th century brownstones. “There are a lot of beautiful trees and brownstones on the street, and I was taken in by the beauty, and the beautiful, warm experience of walking on the street,” the Manhattan-based architect said.
In copper, Andrisani found an ideal material to recreate this warmth: It can be easily cut and weathers beautifully, gradually altering from a metallic color to iridescent brown, black and eventually green.
“The facade is almost alive, it’s always dynamic and changing,” he added. Embedded in the facade screen is a series of shutters that cover the units’ windows; these are retractable via hinges, allowing light to pour in directly to the units’ rooms.
Kingspan (panels); Hi-Tech Metals, Inc. (screen & shutter system, guardrails); Westside Windows & Doors (glazing)
Axis Facades; Hi-Tech Metals, Inc. (screen engineering)
Date of Completion
steel frame with metal cladding and screen system
black insulated galvalume panels from Kingspan, aluminum windows from Westside Windows & Doors, custom perforated copper screen & shutter system from Hi-Tech Metals Inc.
The architects consulted with Axis Facades on performative details of the exterior screen, while Hi-Tech Metals Inc. manufactured the assembly. The custom pixelated patterning is derived from Grasshopper scripts, and offers both performative and decorative functions. While the perforations enabled Andrisani to meet local building code requirements for light and air, the patterning reveals a desire to respond to historic and cultural features of the scenic tree-lined street. Simple metal shutters often found on historic buildings throughout New York City provided a historical precedent for the operable copper screens, designed to offer protection from the elements.
The facade’s design—which won a 2016 North American Cooper in Architecture Award from the Copper Development Association—is inspired by something else archetypically Brooklyn: John A. Roebling’s 1883 landmark Brooklyn Bridge. Three diagonal lines flying out from the far right of the screen are meant to represent the bridge’s turrets, Andrisani said. The screen and balcony spaces offer a glimpse of the steel frame construction system while balancing the precision of digitally controlled perforations with a deliberately raw material palette.
Various balconies in the units, located in the building’s rear and along its side, contain black metal handrails, perforated like the facade’s screen. Dividers separating cabanas for each unit on the building’s roof—as yet unbuilt—will contain similar handrails.
The main volume of the building features a black galvalume panel cladding set in a clean stack bond pattern with reveal joints that register copper trimmed windows along the side elevations. The facade material extends to the interior lobby, providing streetside continuity, while the copper window trim extends to the interior of the units, showcases the depth of the exterior wall construction while offering a warm glow at window openings. Paired with operable copper shutters, the window detailing at Aperture538 appropriately reaffirms the name of the development.
A recently developed product, the Solar Canopy, may solve many of the problems related to having solar panels on residential urban rooftops, according to a recent press release.
The Solar Canopy, a collaboration of Brooklyn-based architecture and design firm SITU Studio and Brooklyn SolarWorks, is a raised platform of solar panels. The project’s development also included Solar One, an advisor, and Laufs Engineering Design (LED), a structural engineering consultant.
This approach to incorporating solar panels on rooftops in New York City attempts to resolve concerns such as fire code regulations, rooftop obstructions, and wind and snow loads. The Canopy has a minimum size requirement of 6’ wide x 9’ high, based on requirements set forth by the Department of Buildings (DOB). The product was initially designed for brownstones and row-houses in Brooklyn but can be produced in larger sizes.
Aluminum, with its solid-but-lightweight properties, was chosen for the Canopy's frame. “The buildings might not [stand the test of time] but [the Canopy] is built to really last,” stated T.R. Ludwig of Brooklyn SolarWorks in an interview with AN.
The Canopy consists of standard components—trusses, beams, and angled columns. A T-extrusion is used to attach the structure securely to the roof. Using a parametric formula, these components can be easily reproduced to yield a customized Canopy, potentially double the size of a rooftop solar system. A video included in a press release, seen below, shows the assembly of the Canopy.
The Solar Canopy will hopefully allow homeowners to save considerably in energy costs. Tax credits from the Federal government, the State of New York, and the City of New York can be used to cover 60 to 90 percent of the cost of a rooftop solar system. Ludwig told AN that it is possible for homeowners to take out loans to have the product installed and that affordability is one of the project team’s priorities. Brooklyn SolarWorks has a background in solar finance.
So far, ten Solar Canopies have been installed in Brooklyn with several others going through the permitting process. The product will likely be available for commercial use in the fall of 2016.
A new idea recently emerged for a piece of property, which has long been in dispute, along the Bushwick Inlet.
The initial plan for the Bushwick Inlet was to convert the industrial “wasteland” into a 28-acre park. That was what was promised to the people of Williamsburg and Greenpoint in 2005 following the Waterfront Rezoning Agreement, introduced under the Bloomberg administration. Advocates for this proposal, including Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, have continually voiced their desire that the property be used for green space.
However, Citistorage owner Norman Brodsky still possesses an 11 acre triangle of land needed for the park. It currently holds the old Bayside Oil Depot. Brodsky wants to sell the property for $250 million to the city. However, the city has far exceeded initial cost estimates for the park—$60 million to $90 million—having already spent around $224 million. Rumors are circulating that city may use eminent domain to take the land. If that were to happen, the city would have to compensate Brodsky for a certain amount, then additionally pay for the extensive environmental remediation needed to make the site usable. As of yet, the city has not make decision.
More recently, however, local stakeholder Zac Waldman has floated a vision for a “Maker Park” at the site's industrial facilities. In fact, Waldman has assembled a team of supporters to translate that vision into a more definitive plan. They include the events coordinator for the Municipal Art Society (MAS); Stacey Anderson, a creative director at Kushner Companies; Karen Zabarsky; and architect Jay Valgora of New York City–based firm STUDIO V Architecture, along with other designers and developers.
Valgora is known for his adaptive reuse projects, such as Empire Stores, the redevelopment of an empty and neglected brick storehouse in DUMBO, Brooklyn. While no definitive plans have been revealed for Maker Park, the development team is working to devise a strategy to convert the warehouses, garages, and cylindrical fuel containers into an artisan marketplace and industrial playground. The Maker Park website describes the vision as “a beautiful and otherworldly industrial topography.” However, Natalie Grybauskas, a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio, has stated that Maker Park is not a feasible use of the site due to the need for environmental remediation, according to The New York Times.
Previous projects of this nature have proved successful, notably the on-going Freshkills Park project and the Croton Water Filtration Plant.
Freshkills was the world’s largest landfill until 2001, when it stopped receiving trash (save the debris from post-9/11 cleanups). Over the course of two decades, each of the Staten Island landfill’s massive mounds have been capped, allowing development of 2,200 acres of parkland that offer hiking, biking, playgrounds, and a number of other amenities not typically accessible to residents and visitors of New York City. The site even harvests natural gas from the contained landfill.
The Croton Water Filtration Plant, designed by New York City–based Grimshaw Architects, is situated beneath a golf driving range in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. An article in The New York Times notes that 290 million gallons of water are treated each day at the $3.2 billion plant. Additionally, the plant provides 100 million of gallons of water each day to the western edges of Manhattan and areas of the Bronx.
While adaptive reuse has played a significant role in breaking up the monotony of the congested metropolitan landscape in these projects, the concept of an "industrial theme" for the Maker Park remains vague. Although the use of existing infrastructure presents advantages, there are still many considerations to take into account before this is deemed feasible and worthy of the community.
The fact remains that Citistorage still owns 11 acres of the property needed to pursue any development for public use of the site, or development, period, since anyone could snatch up the property.