Last week, as New York was blindly transfixed on its impending Thanksgiving feast, the Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) released renderings of a proposed mixed-use development that has been floated to help fund the waterfront park. Seven proposals stacked, folded, and otherwise covered in plants a program calling for several hundred hotel rooms and residences on two park-side sites on Furman Street. The developer/architect breakdown was full of the regular big names and heavy hitters: Brooklyn's Two Trees selected WASA/Studio A; Toll Brothers worked with Rogers Marvel; SDS worked with Leeser; Extell went with Beyer Blinder Belle; Dermot with FX Fowle; RAL with CDA; and Starwood teamed with Alloy Development, Bernheimer Architects, and n Architects. Building any new buildings along the park has been a contentious issue, but the tax revenue the new development would generate would go a long way toward BBP's financial sustainability. While architects whipped up some flashy renderings, one aspect seems certain to rouse fans of Brooklyn Heights' elevated promenade. In several of the renderings, views of the Brooklyn Bridge appear slightly interrupted despite guidelines that limit the height of new construction. BBP spokesperson Ellen Ryan told AN that all of the proposals adhere to the Special Scenic View Corridor regulations set forth by City Planning, which are actually lower in height than the old cold storage warehouses that once stood on the site until the 1950s. The building height limits range from 55 feet on the south parcel and 100 feet on the north. That's not the only thing driving neighborhood angst. The Brooklyn Eagle pointed out that the public only has about four weeks to review and comment on the proposals—until December 22—and at the height of the holiday season rush no less. There's a lot to like about the proposals as well. WASA/Studio A clad their curvilinear buildings with giant green walls with windows poking through while Rogers Marvel and others planted every available rooftop space with green roofing. FXFOWLE's stacked metal-mesh-covered volumes connect to the planned Squibb Park pedestrian bridge, providing direct access to its rooftops in what looks to be a gesture to the High Line. Leeser Architects' futuristic proposal called for a massive atrium filled with a gym and a floating pool, while Starwood's team of Bernheimer and n Architects lifted their proposal to provide views of the park along the sidewalk. Take a look at all of the proposals below and share your thoughts in the comments. All images courtesy respective firms / Brooklyn Bridge Park.
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In addition to the news about further delays at the World Trade Center site, this week's issue of Downtown Express also reported on a deal brokered by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer that guaranteed public access to the "Great Hall" on the second floor of the Battery Maritime Building, and thus Stringer's ULURP blessing. That this was billed as a victory took me by surprise, because, from what I remember about the project when I was writing about its review and subsequent passage by the LPC, this had always been the plan. Well, sorta, confirmed Rob Rogers, the designer behind the project's flashy new addition. "The great hall has always been public; the hours (and thus operating cost) are a negotiation between Dermot and various public agencies," the Rogers Marvel Architects principal wrote in an email. Indeed, had I just gone back and read my own clips, I would have known as much:
The other half of the plan involves transforming the immense second floor waiting room into a great hall, which will serve as a public market by day and event space by night. The hall will be ringed by restaurants, cafes, a culinary school, and other food-oriented public spaces. Additionally, the rooftop will feature a bar and lounge that will round out the project’s public amenities.Perhaps what had so engrained this public space in my mind was the above rendering, though the sort of semi-public deal the Express describes is not unlike the public plazas lining Midtown office towers, which earned their buidings an extra 20 percent in height while the plazas generally remain in control of the landlord and only open during business hours. To wit:
Developer Dermot Company agreed that the Great Hall on the second floor of the building will be open to the public for arts uses weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., alternating weekends and several evenings a month. The rest of the time it will be closed for private revenue-generating parties and events.It doesn't exactly seem fair that "economic viability" is being used as an excuse to further privatize the space, especially when nearly every project, this one included, is barely viable, if at all. Still, the locals seem okay with the deal--“That sounds like a fair compromise,” Ro Sheffe, chair of CB1’s Financial District Committee, told Downtown Express--so who am I to complain?