Posts tagged with "Downtown Brooklyn":

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Take a trip through this redwood forest in downtown Brooklyn tomorrow

Instead of staring out the window into the gloomy morass of this weekend's unrelenting rain, head over to downtown Brooklyn tomorrow for the opening of a real—and really small—public forest. Artist Spencer Finch has set up a 4,000-tree glen in MetroTech Commons for his latest solo exhibition, Lost Man Creek. In partnership with Save the Redwoods League, Finch has recreated a 790-acre chunk of California's Redwood National Park at 1:100 scale. The height and placement of the thousands of scaled-down redwoods, ranging from one to four feet tall, mimic the topography of the real redwood forest (although the trees there reach heights close to 400 feet). “Through both a scientific approach to gathering data—including precise measurements and record keeping—and a poetic sensibility, Finch’s works often inhabit the area between objective investigations of science and the subjectivity of lived experience,” said exhibition organizer and Public Art Fund associate curator Emma Enderby, in a statement. “In a world where climate change is at the core of societal debates, Finch’s installation in the heart of one of the most urbanized neighborhoods of the city presents us with the universal reality of nature’s power to awe and inspire, and the importance to remember and protect such wonders.” Visitors will be able to view the triangular patch of nature from a platform or at ground level. A custom-rigged irrigation system will keep the redwoods alive (although they'll probably get more water here than in their native, water-deficient California). Like the old-growth redwoods, Lost Man Creek will be around for awhile: The exhibition opens tomorrow and remains on view through March 11, 2018. The work is reminiscent of Michael Neff's suspended forest at the Knockdown Center, although Neff prefers his conifers dead.
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New renderings revealed for FXFOWLE’s luxury Fort Greene apartments

Construction is wrapping up on the The Ashland, a 53-story mixed-use skyscraper in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. In anticipation, the building's website has launched ahead of the July 19 opening of its leasing office. The tower has a total of 586 units, about half of which were opened to applications through the city’s affordable housing lottery. The tower was designed by FXFOWLE, with interiors by SPAN Architecture. According to 6sqft, the units will range in price from $2600 per month for a studio to $7500 per month for a 3-bedroom, which is on par with rents in the area. On the new website's availability page, however, only studios and one-bedroom apartments are listed. The page also offers a link for rental applications. The website showcases many of the building’s amenities, like a fitness studio, rooftop lounge, and barbecue area. It also features renderings of the Gotham Market at The Ashland, a dining hall located at the base of the tower. The market will host eight different dining options, with one rotating pop-up space. This is in addition to the rooms themselves, which offer central air conditioning, floor-to-ceiling windows, and dishwashers in each unit. The luxury apartment tower is located on the edge of Fort Greene, adjacent to the BAM Harvey Theater and the Brooklyn Cultural District. The district, anchored by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, has been a hotspot for development since its inception. Industry has also boomed in the area following the opening of the Barclays Center. Marketing for The Ashland capitalizes on the fact that Downtown Brooklyn is increasingly becoming a center for art and culture in the city, emphasizing the many destinations within walking distance.
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Claire Weisz on WXY’s reimagining of the Brooklyn Strand

From a pedestrian perspective, Downtown Brooklyn and its waterfront have an odd relationship. Despite the Brooklyn Bridge’s looming (literally) presence in DUMBO, the area’s potential to become an idyllic promenade and an active space has never quite been realized.

Now, however, New York practice WXY architecture + design—who specializes in planning, urban design, and architecture–is proposing to connect DUMBO, Downtown, and Brooklyn Bridge Park. As part of a public-private scheme, in collaboration with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP), WXY’s project, the Strand, sets about creating views within the site, giving it an identity while creating a place that puts pedestrians first.

WXY principal Claire Weisz said that the first thing her practice sought to do was to see what connections needed to be reestablished with a focus on who they should serve. “One of the main priorities of the Strand effort is to privilege pedestrians and cyclists,” said Weisz. “We [looked] at what spaces used to connect and then we sought a way to reimagine and provide resources to the public spaces and places that are valued by the people living, working, and studying in this area.”

Striking a dialogue and creating a “positive sense of journey” was another key aspect of the scheme. Working with Copenhagen artist group Superflex, a responsive and pedestrian friendly scene was established: Here, functional, yet visually inspiring routes were developed, evoking the cultural and historical aspects of the area’s neighborhoods from Fulton to Farragut and the Navy Yard.

Weisz also spoke of new subway connections and the potential to develop sites around infrastructure, adding how the Gateway to Brooklyn action plan concept “demonstrated the importance of approaching access holistically.” In light of this, Weisz proposed connecting Cadman Plaza East with the walkway off the Brooklyn Bridge, thus protecting pedestrians who “have to dodge traffic at Cadman Plaza West.”

Weisz noted how the dominance of car travel has led to the emergence of “unappealing leftover public space.” Here, she explained, a “continuous city fabric where walkable, bike-able, active streets connect Downtown Brooklyn to the Waterfront” is a necessity from an infrastructure perspective.

While improved circulation is a priority, visual connectivity is also on the agenda. Weisz plans to give landmarks visual precedence to celebrate Brooklyn’s history and improve wayfinding throughout the Strand. As a result, the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges are allocated framed views from within the Cadman Plaza Park, Anchorage Plaza, and Trinity Park, in order to reaffirm the sense of place throughout the Strand.

“The Strand’s identity is linked to not losing the layers of history that made Brooklyn what it is today but adapting them for today’s needs,” said Weisz, who added that creating a “cohesive” identity was discussed with stakeholders.

“The main challenge of the Strand has been demonstrating the potential of spaces that are currently invisible to the public,” said Weisz. “Whether it be spaces around, over, or under highways [or] a new vantage for accessing and experiencing the Brooklyn Bridge, residents can look forward to a rejuvenated place that realizes the potential for the Strand to better connect downtown Brooklyn.”

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Downtown Brooklyn Partnership releases new report on robust development in Downtown Brooklyn

On its tenth anniversary, the local nonprofit development corporation Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has released a report that details just how well the development of downtown Brooklyn is going. Downtown Rising: How Brooklyn became a model for urban development demonstrates how, since its 2004 rezoning, private investors have put more than $10 billion into Downtown Brooklyn. The report was commissioned by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and produced by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy at NYU. “Downtown Brooklyn has harnessed its determined capacity for creative change to undergo a true rebirth over the past decade,” said Tucker Reed, president of the Partnership. “This report demonstrates just how far strong civic leadership can go when it’s bolstered by smart public investment, and provides the first definitive account of how we came so far, so fast—and where we need to go from here.” At a panel hosted at NYU and moderated by Professor of Urban Policy and Planning Mitchell L. Moss last week, Reed, Joe Chan (executive vice president, Empire State Development Corporation), Regina Myer (president, Brooklyn Bridge Park), and Hugh O'Neill (president of economic consulting firm Appleseed) discussed the report and next steps for downtown Brooklyn. Since the creation of a central business district in the Group of 35 report, Downtown Brooklyn has transformed itself into a tech hub, a center of arts and culture, a nexus of higher education. Between 2000 and 2013, the district's population grew by 17 percent. The number of residents with a bachelor's degree nearly doubled, and median household income grew by 22 percent. Reed mentioned that, as part of its community development goals, the Partnership "is working on workforce development" to close a skills and opportunity gap among residents without a college degree. The report has five recommendations for continued growth which center on clearing barriers for development through incentives and flexible zoning, as well as greater investment in transportation, the arts, and public space:
  1. Downtown Brooklyn and the city should ensure that innovative new companies have room to grow through increased—and targeted—commercial office space investment.
  2. The city should learn from the 2004 rezoning of the area, which allowed flexible permissive zoning and land use policies and resulted in a surge in development. The city should avoid trying to achieve narrowly defined policy objectives by enacting overly detailed zoning restrictions and prescriptions.
  3. The city should continue to invest in innovative public space improvements, such as the Brooklyn Strand initiative and completion of Brooklyn Bridge Park, that make Downtown Brooklyn a more attractive place to live, work, invest, do business, and visit.
  4. Developers and property owners, non-profit organizations, and the city need to work together to ensure that cultural institutions, arts organizations, and individual artists can continue to play a vital role in the ongoing transformation of Downtown Brooklyn.
  5. The city needs to address long-standing gaps in the area’s transportation networks, including lack of transit access to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, difficulties in getting between the core of Downtown Brooklyn and the waterfront, and the scarcity of good options for travel between existing and new waterfront neighborhoods and growing concentrations of jobs along the East River.
What do you think: Will these strategies keep the neighborhood on its upward development trajectory, or is the celebratory document failing to consider downsides like the loss of affordable housing and the decimation of independent retail on Fulton Street?
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TEN Arquitectos’ mixed-use downtown Brooklyn building tops out

TEN Arquitectos' 286 Ashland Place, a 384-unit, 32-story mixed-use development in Downtown Brooklyn, has topped out. The building's 45,148 square feet of community space will host 651 ARTS, The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), and the Brooklyn Public Library. The New York– and Mexico City–based firm has a number of major projects in design and under construction. Their campus for Centro, a technology, design, and business university in their home city, opened in September 2015, while plans for the Mexican Museum and residential building at 706 Mission Street in San Francisco are moving forward. Last month, TEN Arquitectos revealed renderings of a luxury resort in the Cayman Islands. At 286 Ashland Place, 20 percent of the units in the building are set aside for affordable housing. The building will host 21,928 square feet of retail. Construction is expected to be complete this summer, YIMBY reports. The project is located within the Brooklyn Cultural District, a Fort Greene development plan anchored by BAM. The triangular lot, across the street from BAM and a block from Atlantic Terminal, fronts high-traffic areas on all sides. On the Flatbush Avenue side, ground-floor retail and a stepped plaza break up what could have been a monotonous street wall. The facade is reminiscent of the firm's Mercedes House, in Midtown West. There too, the facade is broken up by a nonstandard arrangement of windows and built-in air treatment units. Mercedes House's outstanding features are terraced cubes and snaking profile respond to the site's steep elevation. 286 Ashland Place has a more standard site, and relies on an origami-ed facade for visual interest from afar. Though it obscures a previously unobstructed view of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building the articulations of the facade draw the eye outward, towards the surrounding streetscape.
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Kohn Pedersen Fox unleashes a 600-foot-tall office building in Downtown Brooklyn

It's a big week for big Brooklyn skyscrapers. Yesterday, SHoP Architects and Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates unveiled plans for towers within a block of each other, in the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. KPF is developing the 400,000 square foot office and retail project at 420 Albee Square in partnership with JEMB Realty and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). At 600 feet tall, the tower will be 400 feet shorter than SHoP's, but it will still reign as Brooklyn's second tallest building. Plans for tall towers in Brooklyn are years in the making.  In 2004, the Downtown Brooklyn Development Plan rezoned the district bounded by Flatbush Avenue, Fulton Mall, and Willoughby Avenue to spur the development of office space and academic facilities (the area includes parts of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle). Blocks adjacent to this commercial core were rezoned to accommodate denser residential development and ground floor retail. The city has invested $300 million in open space and infrastructure improvements in the Tech Triangle. In a statement, KPF claims that 420 Albee Square is the "first ground-up construction of commercial space since the re-zoning." The effects of the zoning changes in the city's third largest commercial district are especially noticeable on Fulton Mall, where longtime businesses catering to low- and middle-income shoppers are being replaced (homogenized, some say) by upscale national chains. The NYCEDC claims that, to remain competitive, the city needs 60 million square feet of office space built by 2025. How the additional office space catalyzes change in downtown Brooklyn remains to be seen.
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Early renderings of SHoP’s 1,000-foot-tall Downtown Brooklyn skyscraper revealed

In August, AN speculated that a super skinny, supertall tower was coming to Brooklyn. Now, real estate watchblog YIMBY has uncovered a design by SHoP Architects for the 90-story, 1,000-foot-tall tower slated for Downtown Brooklyn. The tower, at 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension, will have 550 residential units and 140,000 square feet of commercial space. A representative from SHoP, however, stated that the "current rendering circulating is preliminary and outdated. We cannot provide additional material at this moment." The project's tentative completion date is set for early 2019. JDS Development is financing the project. Sound familiar? SHoP and JDS partnership are currently collaborating on the 1,428-foot-tall condominium tower rising at 111 West 57th Street. Two important structures share the same block. The (landmarked) Dime Savings Bank, at 9 Dekalb Avenue, was purchased for $90 million from JP Morgan Chase as part of the development package. The bank will be incorporated into the scheme of the structure, though SHoP has not revealed how this will happen. The other structure, Junior's restaurant, sits at the prow of Flatbush and Dekalb, but cheesecake fans can relax: after turning down a $45 million offer from an unnamed developer last year, the owners are unlikely to accept a buyout.
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57th Street comes to Downtown Brooklyn with a possible 1,000-foot tower

Downtown Brooklyn's ever-growing, not-all-that-inspiring, skyline could soon see a 57th Street–style addition. That's right, Brooklyn might be getting its first supertall tower. It was only a matter of time, really. Crain's reported that Michael Stern of JDS Development, which is behind SHoP's very tall 111 West 57th Street, has partnered with Joe Chetrit of the Chetrit Group to build a Brooklyn tower so tall it could rival, or eclipse, the Empire State Building. To do so, the two developers have reportedly purchased the landmarked Dime Savings Bank (and its 300,000 square feet of development rights) at 9 Dekalb Avenue for $90 million from JPMorgan Chase. Stern would use these rights to build a supertall next door at 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension, a site he co-owns with Chetrit. With the combined air rights of that site, the developer duo would have almost 600,000 square feet to work with. Crain's noted that the historic bank could be used as a lobby for the new tower or as a stand-alone retail space. An architect for the project has not yet been named. For those wondering, the iconic Junior's restaurant next to the site isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
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Bernheimer and Dattner start work on BAM building as construction in Brooklyn’s art district kicks up a notch

As Downtown Brooklyn's skyline grows taller, denser, and a bit more interesting, construction is whirring along in the BAM Cultural District just across Flatbush Avenue. The latest project to break ground within the area is bringing the borough new cultural institutions, affordable housing, and well, architecture. It's the Brooklyn Cultural District Apartments. The 115,000-square-foot structure was designed by Bernheimer Architecture and Dattner Architects with some landscaping accoutrement by SCAPE. The mixed-use building includes a restaurant along with the Center for Fiction and space for the Mark Morris Dance Group. Above the building's cultural podium are 109 apartments, 40 percent of which are below market-rate. "Extensive glazing at the lower floors highlights the cultural components and activates the pedestrian experience," Dattner explained on its website. "In-set balconies and double-height terraces articulate the upper base and tower." The Brooklyn Cultural District Apartments is intended to flow into the collection of high-design buildings and public spaces that are appearing one after the other on numerous sites around it. The building's restaurant, for instance, flows into Ken Smith's Arts Plaza which itself flows into the slightly cantilevering Theatre For a New Audience by Hugh Hardy of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture. Between the new apartment building and the existing theater and plaza is yet another planned building—a 200-room hotel with a jagged facade by Leeser Architecture. There's one more big project to mention on the block: FXFOWLE's 52-story mixed-income residential tower that is quickly ascending into Brooklyn's skyline. On the other side of Fulton Street from the tower is the BRIC Arts Media House, another Leeser project. Adjacent to all of this is the site of Francis Cauffman's very artsy and wavy medical center that is currently under-construction. And across Lafayette Avenue is TEN Arquitectos' 32-story, mixed-use residential tower that is beginning to make its ascent.
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Step inside COOKFOX’s new Brooklyn tower complex

Prolific construction watcher Field Condition recently toured phase two of COOKFOX's under-construction City Point development in Downtown Brooklyn. The firm's new pair of towers are already standing out in Brooklyn's bummer of a skyline with their non-glass facades and series of setbacks. The shorter of the pair—standing 19 stories tall—is 100 percent affordable and clad in grey-blue metallic panels. It stands next to the 30-story market-rate tower that has a primarily terracotta facade. The two buildings are scheduled to be completed next year, but why not take a look at where things stand now.
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Mayor de Blasio Goes All In on Urbanism in Downtown Brooklyn

In the decade since it was rezoned, Downtown Brooklyn has grown up in a big way. Just look at its skyline and the new apartment towers and hotels that call it home. The open air between those buildings will soon be filled because development isn't slowing down—it's just getting started. But the next decade of change in Downtown Brooklyn could offer much more than the first. That's because as new buildings rose, the area’s street-level never kept pace: public space is still scarce and underused, streets are hard to navigate and dangerous, and educational and cultural institutions have been disconnected. Today, however, Mayor de Blasio announced strategies to change all that by injecting the booming district with new (or refurbished) parks, redesigned streetscapes, new retail, and better connections between its many cultural and educational institutions. These investments could be transformative in their own right, but are especially notable given Mayor de Blasio’s hesitancy to talk about the importance of urban design. To be clear, New York City’s commitment to safe, livable streets did not die when Mayor Bloomberg walked out the door. In de Blasio's New York, there have been new bike lanes and the like, but the mayor doesn't speak about these issues with the force of his predecessor. That seemed to change today as this plan goes all in on urbanism. “This is one of the city’s great success stories, and we have an incredible opportunity to take these stunning communities, parks, and institutions and knit them together,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “The investments we are making will help Downtown Brooklyn continue its rise, generate good jobs, and make this a more dynamic neighborhood to live and work.” The plan starts where Downtown Brooklyn starts—at the mouth of the Brooklyn Bridge. The City plans to transform the 21-acre patchwork of underused parks and public plazas between the bridge and Borough Hall into a “great promenade and gateway into Brooklyn.” The renovated space, known as the "Brooklyn Strand," will be designed to better connect with the area's transit hubs and the celebrated Brooklyn Bridge Park, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. This strategy follows a study commissioned by the Brooklyn Tech Triangle - a cluster of tech companies in Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and DUMBO. It was led by WXY. While not mentioned explicitly, Vision Zero factors into this plan though the City's strategies to make certain corridors more bike and pedestrian friendly. This includes a multi-million dollar transformation of the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge—a plan that was conceived under Bloomberg and is slated to break ground next year. Over on Willoughby Street, the City will "explore non-traditional roadway design that recognizes and accommodates the heavy use of the area by pedestrians." ARUP is working with the city on that redesign. The City has also pledged to build a new one-acre public park in Downtown Brooklyn and refurbish two others—Fox Square and BAM Park. The latter has been closed to the public for decades, but will be spruced up by WXY. Fox Square will be renewed by AKRF, with Mathews Nielsen. To boost business in Downtown Brooklyn, the City will offer-up some of its own ground-floor space to retail tenants. It may also consolidate its 1.4 million square feet to provide affordable office space for businesses. And there are plans to launch a consortium between Downtown Brooklyn’s 11 colleges to “better connect the tech, creative, and academic communities.” This is intended to best prepare students for jobs at Brooklyn’s Tech Triangle. The Economic Development Corporation will provide $200,000 in seed funding to kickstart that initiative. As part of this plan, the emerging Brooklyn Cultural District, which straddles the blurry border between Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene, could get its very own Businesses Improvement District (BID). The City said it will work with the over 60 cultural groups in the district to market the area as a preeminent cultural hub. Of course, at this point, these are all fairly vague proposals—just ideas on paper unbound by hard deadlines. But this announcement shows that as Downtown Brooklyn builds toward the sky, the City will refocus on the people walking, biking, studying, and working on the streets below.
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Garrison Architects to Build Prefab Disaster Housing Prototype in Brooklyn

Brooklyn-based Garrison Architects, a firm well-known for its sustainable modular buildings, and American Manufactured Structures and Services, have collaborated on the design of a prefabricated disaster relief housing prototype, which will be displayed in Downtown Brooklyn this summer, as part of an effort to help rebuild post-Hurricane Sandy with a focus on sustainability. The three-story, three-unit modular test structure will be situated next to the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) on Cadman Plaza. The ground floor will be a handicap-accessible 480-square-foot one-bedroom unit, and the upper two floors will consist of two separate 822-square-foot three-bedroom apartments. The preassembled and pre-furnished units will be 12-feet wide by 40-feet long. Once shipped to the site, they simply need to be clipped together and connected to utilities. They also feature balconies that help lower solar-heat gain, provide larger windows, and supply more habitable space. Garrison Architects principal Jim Garrison told the New York Post that the units can stand alone but are also “designed to operate as a row house and be deployed on a city block.” The prefab structures will cost about $1.14 million paid for by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and will include gardens in back and parking in front. They can be assembled to form a secure perimeter around an urban street and can be outfitted with photovoltaics to generate their own electricity. Garrison said that the design, which complies with all city codes, would eventually be utilized for high-density, four-story urban housing. OEM and the Department of Design and Construction have been working since the “What If NYC” design competition in 2008 to create a prototype for disaster housing. When Sandy hit four years later, nothing was prepared. Now, after the establishment of more detailed requirements for local codes, the project is ready to go. Construction is expected to begin soon and test residents will move in for several months to offer feedback on how the units work so the design can be modified. View more technical drawings of the structure here.