Posts tagged with "Brooklyn":

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Developers add nursery school with playful multipurpose kitchen to Brooklyn development

Prospect-Lefferts Gardens was once referred to by locals as “Brooklyn’s best-kept secret.” Now, developments—many of which offer vistas across Prospect Park and onto downtown Manhattan—are shooting up as the area surges in popularity. One of those is The Parkline at 626 Flatbush Avenue between Fenimore and Hawthorne streets.

The 23-story building, backed by developer Hudson Inc., is the tallest in the neighborhood. It offers 254 units as part of a mixed-income “80/20” scheme (a development that is granted tax-exempt financing when at least 20 percent of the units are reserved for low-income earners).

Aside from the rental units, a restaurant with a glazed facade can be found on the ground floor, along with a bookstore. As per the “Community Facility” zoning code of the area, Hudson decided to include a school—an expansion of the nearby Maple Street School—into the development.

“We could easily have opted for a doctor’s office,” said principal Alison Novak. “Frankly, a doctor’s office might have paid more for the space. But having a nursery school, especially one based in the neighborhood with a stellar reputation, was more appealing in part because it is a more attractive use to residents of the building. We also recognized that it is more difficult to locate a school than a doctor’s office, and we had an opportunity to support a neighborhood institution.”

Maple Street School is located on the second floor of The Parkline and has been open since September. The preschool, designed by Brooklyn-based studios Barker Freeman Design Office architects and 4|MATIV, offers three classrooms on the west side, all connected in a linear fashion through sliding timber doors. Holding approximately 16 children each, the classrooms can open up to form larger spaces with adjacent rooms when needed.

Even when closed, however, the doors facilitate connections between classrooms. Windows, placed at varying heights and shapes, can be found. Novak remarked how her daughter, who attends the school, interacts with friends on the other side, often knocking on and peering through the low-level windows. Around the north and west perimeter, large windows have also been included.

Inside each classroom, children have access to bathrooms and “play-sinks.” Alexandra Barker of Barker Freeman described how the sinks connect the inside and outside of the bathrooms. “The play-sinks store toys where the children can play, but on the other side is where they can wash after going to the bathroom,” said Barker. Situated in the classrooms themselves, the bespoke bathrooms prevent children from wandering astray when they need to go.

Another feature is a multipurpose kitchen area. Priya Patel of 4|MATIV said that a “big part of the curriculum is to teach kids through cooking.” Barker elaborated: “It’s a diverse space: At one level it acts as a kitchen-cafe area, whereas on another level kids can climb up and play. It also doubles up as an informal performance space and, due to its location, a gathering point that the whole school has access to. It was actually a big deal to decide that this was a specific space that wasn’t just the classrooms or lobby.”

Within this space, and indeed throughout much of the school, maple timber has been employed for flooring, cabinets, and other furniture, as well as a “peg board” (a board with moveable pegs that children can play with in the lobby when being dropped off or collected). With its white interior walls—left intentionally blank so children can display their artwork on them—and generous amounts of daylight, the school has a Scandinavian feel to it. “We wanted to materially represent Maple Street,” said Barker. “This was a big choice to use maple flooring, as opposed to something that would have perhaps been easier.”

Resources

Engineered Maple flooring: Kährs Contractors: Bolt Construction Developer: The Hudson Companies Design Architects: Barker Freeman Design Office 4|Mativ Design Studio
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Developer says Long Island College Hospital will not have any affordable housing

Long Island College Hospital (LICH) has officially checked out of the mayor's plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing.
Owner Fortis Property Group will not seek to rezone the Cobble Hill, Brooklyn site, which means it can build market-rate (read: luxury) housing there instead. Mayor Bill de Blasio fought to keep the hospital open during his mayoral campaign three years ago; when that option became unlikely, the mayor fought to convert the site, a 20-building complex, into a mixed-use development with an affordable housing component.
The all-powerful market has spoken, though, and it has quashed those housing plans. "We have decided to move forward with an as-of-right redevelopment plan for the LICH site," Fortis president Joel Kestenbaum told Politico. "Based on the high demand for community facility space at this premier location, timing, and other development factors, an as-of-right redevelopment is the most profitable." Right now, an NYU Langone–operated medical facility occupies the site, and a smaller facility will be included in the redevelopment under the same operators. When the hospital closed in 2014, the mayor's office pushed to rezone the site to allow for denser development: Plans called for moving the tallest proposed tower away from the low- and mid-rise residential neighborhood and closer to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which slices through Cobble Hill's western edge. Councilmember Brad Lander, whose district includes the LICH site, was skeptical of the density increase inherent in the rezoning. Lander would consider legal action if the development plan consists of a 35- and a 14-story tower, which the councilmember called "obnoxious" and "hideous." Fortis is still nailing down details of the conversion, though plans are said to include retail, a school, and green space.
The hospital deal is one of many sites being studied by the U.S. attorney's office as part of its investigation into the mayor's fundraising practices and allegations of pay-to-play deals centered on real estate.
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Brooklyn Botanic Garden's new garden is inspired by New York wetlands

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) opened its new Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden, a 1.5-acre project inspired by the wetlands of New York. The new section of the park was designed by landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and will act as a habitat for local wildlife. In addition to more than 18,000 new plants, the garden will also include a brook system, Belle’s Brook, which will feature riparian flora that can adapt to different water levels. The garden is part of the BBG’s innovative Water Conservation Project, an ongoing initiative to reduce its freshwater usage and cut down on stormwater runoff. BBG expects to cut water usage from 22 million to 900,000 gallons per year and reduce discharge to the city’s stormwater system from 8 million gallons to 2.5 million gallons per year.

Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden Brooklyn Botanic Garden 150 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn, New York Tel: 718-623-7200 Designer: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

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Fight breaks out at Community Board 6 meeting over bikeshare stations

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.

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Official images released of the Brooklyn Public Library's Interim Brooklyn Heights Branch

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.

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A new online map could help fight gentrification and displacement in Bushwick

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.
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Revamped McCarren Park Skatepark opens in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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. McCarren Skatepark Bayard and Lorimer Streets, Brooklyn, NY Designer: California Skateparks

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Studio Gang's ecological firehouse and training facility breaks ground today

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. 
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The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) and Brooklyn-based Labour on how to design for taste and smell

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...."
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New zoning permits development of Gensler and HWKN-designed Williamsburg office complex

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."

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Never-before-seen works from Ant Farm and LST to go on display in Brooklyn

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.
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SHoP makes the Brooklyn skyline with a “brooding, elegant, and badass” supertall... There goes the neighborhood?

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.”