Posts tagged with "Dumbo":

Another Announcement at Brooklyn Bridge Park: Rock Climbing Wall Could Rise Under the Manhattan Bridge

It seems as if a day can’t go by without a new announcement from Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Brooklyn Paper reported Tuesday that park planners are pushing for a free bouldering wall to be built beneath the Manhattan Bridge. The proposal calls for a ten to 12-foot-tall climbing wall at Plymouth and Washington streets. This fits within a larger vision to develop the park area by Main Street by expanding lawn space, designing a new entry plaza, and relocating the dog run. This news comes right after philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz announced he was abandoning plans to build a velodrome, a complex for cyclists, in the park. As planners delved into the project, they found that the mounting costs of construction exceeded Rechnitz’s $50 million budget and growing concerns about flooding as a result of Hurricane Sandy added another layer of complexity to the design. Rechnitz, however, is still on the hunt for the right location for his velodrome in New York.

Apartments to Rise at Brooklyn Bridge Park Site in the Shadow of the Manhattan Bridge

For those in the market for prime waterfront real estate, there is something brewing in DUMBO. Today Brooklyn Bridge Park issued a Request for Proposal for a development on a vacant parcel in the north section of the park right next to the Manhattan Bridge.  This site, located in what will be called the “John Street Section,” is approximately 9,600 square feet and will accommodate up to 130 residential units (with a maximum height of 130 feet) in addition to over 100 parking spaces and retail on the ground floor level.
“The addition of the residential development at the John Street site represents a critical element of our park maintenance plan,” said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park, in a press release. “This development will not only benefit the DUMBO community, it will further activate the northern end of the park.” This development will join the sprawling Toll Brother’s project, The Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park, a 200-room luxury hotel combined with 159-residential units designed by Rogers Marvel Architects. We'll see what kinds of proposals surface this March when the deadline for the RFP is due.

Empire Stores in DUMBO Might Finally Get a Make-Over

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation issued an RFP last week seeking qualified developers to revamp the post-Civil War Empire Stores warehouse in DUMBO, according to Crain's. The adaptive reuse project, originally drafted in 2002, has been postponed several times over the last decade due to a lack of developers willing to address the building’s “scary structural issues.” Proposals, which are due on December 10th, could add up to 70,000 square feet and two additional stories to the existing buildings. Projects must be community friendly and address design challenges at the intersection of preservation and sustainability.

Artists Reimagine Watertowers As Urban Light Catchers

On the night of June 3rd, 2012, Tom Fruin’s newest sculptural artwork, Watertower, was installed on a rooftop near the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO. The colorfully constructed Watertower features approximately a thousand pieces of foraged plexiglass mounted on a steel skeleton. The monumental patchwork of colored glass also includes an interior and exterior ladder and an operable roof hatch. The great amount of plexiglass used for the piece, which measures 25 feet in height and 10 feet in diameter, was collected all throughout New York City. The use of recycled materials is not new to Tom Fruin Studio, as Watertower is the fourth scavenged artwork of the "Icon" series dedicated to creating tributes to the world’s architectural and sculptural icons using reclaimed materials. Now a part of Brooklyn’s skyline, Watertower will be illuminated from within, allowing it to be visible from Lower Manhattan, FDR Drive, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges at night. Starting June 7th 2012, Fruin’s sculptural tribute to the New York water tower will glisten with daily light shows by digitally-controlled light sequences from dusk till morning for a year.

Open House New York Offering Tours of Architect’s Offices

Tour New York's design hot spots! Open House New York (OHNY) opens up scores of the city's most important building for public tours every year, and now it's doing the same for architect's offices. OHNY will open a variety of offices for self-guided public tours in four of the city's most creative design centers: DUMBO, The Brooklyn Navy Yard, Varick Street, and Red Hook. The first tour of Dumbo (also sponsored by Two Trees Development,  the DUMBO Improvement District, and The Architect's Newspaper) is schedule for Saturday, February 25 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. You will gain unprecedented access to some of the most creative design firms in New York, but you must sign up on the OHNY website. The day will end with a reception at a Dumbo design space with the participating architects. To see a full list of participating firms and to register, click here.

DUMBO Gets “Treehouse”

If you’re in DUMBO this week and catch a glimpse of a shirtless man hanging off a tree, don’t freak out. VAMOS Architects has curated an installation of photographer Robert Holden’s series The Treehouse, as part of New York Photography Week. The large-scale photographs depict semi-nude members of a rainforest commune, set against industrial buildings, rooftops, and scaffolding in DUMBO. The series is meant to let New Yorkers contemplate an alternative lifestyle, according to the artist’s statement. “It shows a commitment to live a life away from chaos, from monetization and find happiness carrying our existence where the highest value is not money or objects that define our status and class,” writes the website Yatzer, which declares that Holden’s subjective documentary approach “makes us reserve an immediate ticket through Kayak.” The Treehouse consists of 49 photographs tucked away in dark alleyways and splashed onto the sides of tall buildings. VAMOS worked with over 20 entities, including Brooklyn Bridge Park, Two Trees Management, St Ann’s Warehouse and Powerhouse books, to get permissions for the installation. The series is on view through May 31, 2011. Upon closing, the installation, which was designed to be zero-impact, will be disassembled and donated to other art projects and schools. "Sometimes architecture is not about building," said Evan Bennett, principal of VAMOS. "We hope the installation's brief life in the neighborhood inspires people to experience their place in the city in new and thoughtful ways."    

Williamsburg Galleries on the Verge

The satellite art fair Verge is ruffling a few painted feathers at galleries in Williamsburg. After the announcement last week that the Miami-based art fair was coming to the borough in an event coinciding with the Armory Show from March 3 to 6, several Billyburg gallery owners balked.  The event, called Art Brooklyn, would conflict with Brooklyn Armory Gallery Hop, which Williamsburg Gallery Association has held the past seven years. Recently, the not for profit Best of Brooklyn helped hype the annual event through Brooklyn Tourism and smART Brooklyn, an initiative of the Borough President’s office promoting the borough’s gallery districts. “I’m opposed to smART joining forces with Verge. It was using its resources to help us and for whatever reason they chose to support Verge as opposed to Williamsburg,” said Tatyana Okshteyn, founding member of the gallery association and director of Black and White Gallery. “It will divert traffic and we were the ones who started that night seven years ago.” With the support of the DUMBO developer Two Trees and Brooklyn Tourism, Verge looks poised to garner a lion’s share of borough’s art crowd audience.  Two Trees has shown itself to be a generous supporter of the arts, which doesn’t play badly with their own real estate interests in the area. Okshteyn said she has no problem with Two Trees' support. This makes sense to the former businesswoman turned art dealer. Her gripe is with Best of Brooklyn. "Why divert resources for a new comer who is an out of town entity, that will primarily have non-Brooklyn galleries," she asked. Borough President Marty Markowitz sees the art fair as win-win for all the gallery districts. In a statement he said, "It's exciting that Verge will present its first-ever Brooklyn art fair during Armory Week, when thousands of artists and art lovers from across the globe converge on our city." Last night, members of the gallery association aired their concerns with representatives from Verge and Best of Brooklyn at regularly scheduled association meeting. Alun Williams, director of Parker’s Box Gallery, said the Verge representative was receptive but non-committal to holding back on having events during the Armory Gallery Hop. “We hope they don’t have any significant event. There might be a late night party and that would be OK for us,” he said. Randall Harris, director of Figureworks Gallery, said that Williamsburg traditionally holds their own Armory afterparty. “I don’t have a concern with them doing an event, but I certainly didn’t want smART and the borough president to focus all their energies on Verge.” “Personally, I feel an art fair in Brooklyn is a bad idea," concluded Harris. "If Brooklyn is an innovator, I think they could come up with another idea, instead of yet another satellite art fair. Having said that, Verge has done this before. I can only wish them luck."

Potential Pyramid Scheme in DUMBO

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

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

Rezoning Day

The rezoning of Coney Island may have takn up all the oxygen at the City Council Wednesday, but it was far from the only rezoning to pass, and far from the only important one. The council also approved a major downzoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, which, at 175 blocks, is not only huge, but important, as it was meant to protect the area from out-of-scale overdevelopment. It may be a little too late for that, but better late than never, we guess. Or maybe never again is more like it. The Flatbush neighborhood on the south side of Prospect Park got a similar treatment, receiving a massive 180 block downzoning again to protect against uncharacteristic development. Dumbo was rezoned, though in a particularly contextual manner, given its unique historic character, as were four contiguous neighborhoods in Queens. But perhaps most important was a citywide change to the inclusionary housing bonus. The chief mechanism by which the Bloomberg administration has promoted affordable housing, the inclusionary housing bonus was extended throughout the city beginning with the original rezoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint in 2005. It had existed since 1987 in some of Manhattan's highest density areas, but it would later be deployed throughout the city because the administration liked how it married private development to the public needs of affordable housing. Essentially, the program offers developers additional density, usually in the neighborhood of 10-12 percent, if they make at least 20 percent of their units affordable. Because this means extra height, it is often worth it in the world of residential development. (At the same time, the program is voluntary, which has created complaints from numerous housing advocates, as some developers forgo the bonus because of construction costs, thereby depressing the number of affordable housing units created.) Yesterday's amendment creates a relatively new home ownership option--it had been deployed in discrete instances in the past--that would not only allow planners and developers to create affordable rentals in neighborhoods, but what are essentially affordable condos. The one downside? The price is regulated, so it would be near impossible to sell and reap much in the way of profits, one of the many reasons for buying a home (at least until recently). The program will likely be targeted at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder, though, where such things are less of a concern and it's more about getting out of the projects or substandard rental housing. The amendment also impacts the original program from 1987, which affects the city's highest density residential districts, the R10s. Currently, affordable units in those projects are ineligible for subsidies, but now they will no longer be exempt, thus paving the way for additional affordable units. (For the best explanation, including some really good visuals, check out the DCP's slideshow.)