On Tuesday, the Van Alen Institute announced that they would be moving their home in Manhattan’s Flatiron District to a new, street-level space in Gowanus, Brooklyn, in Spring 2020. The ground lease of 303 Bond Street, a 3,500-square-foot space not only reflects the evolution of the design institute but also aligns with their broader mission as an organization. The announcement comes a year after the nonprofit sold its current storefront home at 30 West 22nd Street. “For Van Alen, maintaining a street-level space is not just symbolic; it is absolutely critical to our work,” explained Deborah Marton, executive director of the institute, in a recent press release. “We must use design thinking to answer questions we hear most often from outside the profession--questions about displacement, responsible city growth, and impacts of climate change,” she added. The Bond Street location will house the organization’s ongoing public programming as well as new workshops. With street-level access, the location reflects the commitment to foster conversations between communities by staying engaged with its surroundings and providing space for discussion on cities, design, and public health. Marton elaborated that, “As we’ve learned in our Flatiron District space, street access gives us the single most important tool in answering these questions: a direct connection with the public. Our doors will be open to our Gowanus neighbors and we look forward to listening to them.” “Van Alen’s new Gowanus space is an important mission-driven investment, and provides a sustainable home for our next 125 years,” said Jared Della Valle, Van Alen board chair and CEO of Alloy Development. “As we expand our work nationally, we look forward to learning from the ongoing conversations about climate change and equity in this neighborhood.” With the success of a recent Miami project focused on the use of design and climate change, Van Alen hopes to continue expanding this work on local and national levels.
Posts tagged with "Gowanus":
Gowanus, the Brooklyn neighborhood known for its namesake toxic canal (which is prone to flooding), will be joining Manhattan’s Garment District as the next neighborhood to be rezoned. Following over 100 hours of community outreach after the release of the original Gowanus PLACES Study in 2016, the Department of City Planning (DCP) has unveiled the Draft Framework for a Sustainable, Inclusive, Mixed-use Neighborhood. The 188-page draft breaks down suggestions from the city and community on how to boost the neighborhood’s resiliency, replace some of the manufacturing areas with residential, and build up flood-resistant infrastructure. New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenants were also consulted on how to improve the area’s public housing stock moving forward. Surprising no one, a great deal of attention was paid towards the future of the Gowanus Canal proper. Plans for dredging and remediating the industrial waterway (despite the preservation concerns), preventing runoff from reaching the canal, and incentivizing private residences to remediate their contaminated sites were given top billing. Despite the fetid waters, Gowanus has seen an upsurge in luxury development in recent years (including Brooklyn’s first Whole Foods, on 3rd Avenue). The city worked with community groups such as Bridging Gowanus to develop guides for building affordably in the neighborhood. Some of those proposals include rezoning the majority industrial and commercial neighborhood to allow for mid-rise residential developments with a sizeable affordable housing component. While nods were given to reigning in development along mid-block properties, the city has proposed allowing higher-density developments along certain stretches, such as near Thomas Greene Playground and on 3rd Avenue. Some of the beefier urbanist proposals in the draft framework include bridging non-contiguous plots into walkable “superblocks,” and the creation of a unified waterfront esplanade around the canal under a Waterfront Access Plan (WAP). The WAP would also create uniformly-spaced canal crossings, new flood resistance requirements, ground-floor retail requirements along the waterfront, and lowered street wall heights on the coast. The full draft framework plan can be found here. The framework’s release will be followed by the Draft Neighborhood Plan and Zoning Proposal this winter, and then the rezoning proposal will move to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for public comment. Interested community members can attend an open house at P.S. 32 at 317 Hoyt Street on June 27 from 5 to 8:30 P.M. to share their feedback.
The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn is notorious for its filth. Normally a sure fire way to contract dysentery, cancer and arsenic poisoning, the canal is now the subject of study from a diverse collaborative effort: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, biotech nonprofit GenSpace, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, and data visualizers Landscape Metrics. Called the BK BioReactor, the undertaking employs a small autonomous watercraft that samples waters throughout the infamous canal (an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund site). The researchers set out to catalog its microbial communities before the canal undergoes dredging and sub-aquatically capping as part of the Superfund cleanup later this year. https://vimeo.com/156573571 Why the Gowanus? The team aims to discover new microorganisms "unique to the urban realm." With many urban areas facing similar pollution challenges, there may be important lessons to be learned. "The Gowanus Canal is an incubator for the evolution of such bioremediating functions, attesting to its industrial past and its capacity for self-renewal," they stated. To carry out the task, the group are using the BK BioReactor: a mobile watercraft that takes samples and stops at 14 "Smart Docks" throughout the canal. The craft measures "water temperature, pH, salinity, and dissolved oxygen; and most importantly grant researchers and citizen scientists access to the microbiome below the cleanup cap. Subsequently, an interactive microbiological map has been produced, locating all the different microorganisms, the vast majority of which are bacteria. However, in some parts of the canal, large quantities of the siphoviridae virus family can be found. For those wondering, this is not linked to syphilis (which the canal has been associated with). That's not to say the findings were in any way healthy however. "Many of the species identified in preliminary samplings are also found in the human gut (a result of raw sewage) while other species reveal influence of the canal’s proximity to the ocean," the group said. "Regardless of their source, the microbial melting pot of the canal has fine-tuned its metabolism, swapping genes with neighboring communities and evolving novel functions to develop real-time strategies for the unique state of the canal." https://vimeo.com/156590188 Other substances discovered included:
- Cresol, a toxic substance that in humans can damage the respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, blood, liver, kidney, and central nervous system.
- Arsenic, known to cause kidney damage and failure anemia and low blood pressure
- Toluene, can cause insomnia and liver and kidney damage
- Atrazine, a herbicide known to damage endocrine system in amphibians
- Aniline, probably the most scary, is used in dyes and plastics production. It is "classified as very toxic in humans", with a probable oral lethal dose in humans at a very low level.
Semi-Permanent Ink: Artist Charlotte Mann collaborates with Wolf Gordon on art installation in Brooklyn
Wolf Gordon's impressive Wink surface can turn any wall into a dry erase board. The design possibilities are endless considering Wink is completely translucent and can be applied to any color paint, wood, metal, or patterned wall covering without changing the original look. U.K.–based artist Charlotte Mann created a site-specific, large-scale installation at the Gowanus Souvenir Shop using the product that is on view until March 13. The 1:1 scale drawing is different from her typical pieces, which are much more permanent. Mann said that, "Using dry erase as a medium actually made things easier because I could change my mind, and allowed me to improvise." A portion of the installation has been photographed and reproduced as a limited-edition digital wall covering that is for sale at Gowanus Souvenir Shop, 543 Union Street, in Brooklyn. View a time-lapse video of the project below:
As new apartment buildings continue to rise in Gowanus, Brooklyn, New York City's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced plans to install 90 bioswales nearby in hopes of cleaning the neighborhood's eponymous—and oh-so-polluted—canal. DNAinfo reported that starting this summer, the DEP will plan the so-called "curbside gardens" in hopes of soaking up about 8 million gallons of stormwater runoff, ultimately helping the overall ecological well-being of the Gowanus Canal. "Investing in green infrastructure is a cost-effective way to improve the health of the Gowanus Canal, green neighborhood streets and clean the air we all breathe," said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd in a statement to DNAinfo. This bioswale program is part of New York City's larger, multi-billion dollar effort to use green infrastructure to capture stormwater and beautify streets. As AN reported last fall: "Thanks to a landmark 2012 settlement with state environmental officials, New York City finally is taking major steps to manage stormwater near contaminated waterways that don’t comply with the Clean Water Act, such as the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek. The initiative includes an ambitious plan to spend $2.4 billion on green infrastructure, which can include streetscapes designed with materials such as structural soil and permeable pavers."
Last week, ODA: Architecture unveiled a dramatic rendering of a megaproject for Gowanus, Brooklyn, featuring a cluster of semi-transparent stepped pyramids. But almost as soon as the design was released, the site's owners stepped in as buzzkills, disavowing any connection with the ODA proposal. After the sleuths at 6sqft identified the future home of the ziggurats as 175–225 Third Street—thanks to a bit of graffiti pictured in the renderings—the owners, Kushner Companies and LIVWRK, released a statement indicating that they had already passed on ODA's pitch. "The developers are not working with ODA on this project and these designs do not represent our vision for this site or the Gowanus," they said. "We are committed to putting forth an outstanding plan that respects the context of the neighborhood and responds to the voices of local stakeholders." While we now know that ODA, which is currently working on other New York City projects including 10 Montieth Street in Bushwick, will not be bringing their pinwheel of Mesopotamian-inspired structures to the canal front, much about the future of the site remains uncertain. Last June, The Real Deal reported that the parcel could be rezoned to allow a mixed-use development of over one million square feet, to include 150,000 square feet of retail. The immediate area is ripe for commercial growth, with a Whole Foods located across the street and other large residential complexes going up nearby.
Snøhetta, the Norwegian firm known for big, dramatic buildings around the globe, has completed a more modest project in Gowanus, Brooklyn: the conversion of a warehouse into a studio and gallery space for José Parlá, a Cuban-American artist and painter. The new space is separated into two defined spaces known as the “Arena” and the “Nest.” The “Arena” is where Parlá can showcase his work, like the mural ONE: Union of the Senses, which is now on display in the lobby of One World Trade Center. And as for the “Nest,” Snøhetta describes that as “a cozy mezzanine [that] provides a relaxing space for the artist to take distance from his work, and an elevated location to view his paintings from a new perspective.” Artists, right? Snøhetta's renovation retains much of the building's industrial past, including its ceilings and concrete floors; the building's brick exterior has largely been preserved as well, but now includes rolling doors to accommodate large pieces of art. Inside, walls are painted grey to highlight the artist's work and old skylights have been opened up to increase natural light.
Archtober Building of the Day #21 Runner & Stone 285 Third Avenue Latent Productions Karla Rothstein and her partner Sal Perry are Latent Productions. They, along with Baker Peter Endriss served up a very nice helping of both delicious snacks and spiffy new architecture on yesterday's Archtober tour. With a full tour of enthusiasts and architects, Karla and Sal described their self-initiated process of design, development, and construction management. They first prototyped, then fabricated the puffy custom concrete blocks that evoke the sacks of flour waiting to become bread that are the design hallmark of the restaurant, Runner & Stone, in Brooklyn. One thousand units were made, twenty at a time, in the basement with workers, some of them students, following the instruction graphic the architects prepared. It all had something of the air of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with an almost mystical unity of material (steel and concrete and bread) and the romance of fabrication. Ah how utopian! The project includes a bakery, restaurant, and bar replete with locavore cred. Even the name is authentic: Runner & Stone refers to the existence of a mill in the 17th century that was near the site. In milling, the moving stone is called the runner. So the flour and the sand, each granulated for admixture, are equalized and each a metaphor for the other. There was also a lot of steel, another building material receiving special attention and distribution throughout the project. The floor is cold rolled plate, with a foam interlayer, set on plywood, then waxed for residential use in the upper two apartment units. A radiant heating mat keeps it warm. The facade is oxidizing to a nice autumnal orange. Custom furniture blends more raw steel with reclaimed lumber from Brooklyn water tanks. Much was made of the happy relationship of all the parties involved, leading me to conclude that the success is no longer lying dormant: a 2014 AIANY Design Award attests. Along for the tour was budding food critic, and AIANY Exhibition Coordinator Katie Mullen:
As the team from Latent Productions described the building, head baker Peter Endriss and staff passed small plates including pickled vegetables with chopped egg, whitefish salad with sliced baguette, heirloom tomato soup, and sliced sausage with sauerkraut. Endriss, previously head baker at Thomas Keller's Per Se, reserved one surprise for tour attendees returning from 285 3rd Avenue's upper floors: his signature rye flour and toasted caraway brownies.
Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober: Architecture and Design Month NYC. She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell. After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson, held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater. email@example.com
A compromise has been reached in the heated battle over the fate of Brooklyn's iconic Kentile Floors sign. The New York Times reported that the sign's owner will dismantle the structure and donate its red letters to the Gowanus Alliance, a local group which plans to reinstall the sign nearby. For that to happen, though, the eight-story, 50-year-old sign must first be removed from its current rooftop home without breaking. "There are some hurdles to clear," reported the Times. "The permits require that the 20-foot-high letters be reduced to four-by-four-foot sections and sent down a debris chute off the roof." City Councilman Brad Lander, who recently launched a petition to save the sign, told the paper he hopes the letters can be removed with a pulley and not "crammed down a chute."
The industrial past of Gowanus, Brooklyn is rapidly disappearing as the neighborhood transitions into a more mixed-use future. As the low-slung factories and warehouses continue to disappear, the iconic, eight-story, Kentile Floors sign could go with it. The Kentile sign has been towering above the neighborhood since the mid-20th Century and even outlived the Kentile factory, which shuttered in the early 1990s. But in April, a permit was issued for the building's owner to dismantle the sign, and scaffolding has since been spotted next to its red letters. The news of the sign's demise has been met with significant backlash from local residents and politicians including New York City Council Member Brad Lander who launched a petition to save the sign. “Demolition of this iconic sign would be an enormous loss for Gowanus and for Brooklyn,” Lander wrote. “In many ways, it stands for Gowanus.”
[Editor's Note: The following are reader-submitted responses to a pair of articles about the opening of an urban Whole Foods in Gowanus, Brooklyn, “Suburbs Meet City” (AN 03_03.05.2014), and the pending redevelopment of the Coignet Building on the site, “Set in Stone” (AN 03_03.05.2014). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. ] Thanks for the article (“Suburbs Meet City” AN 03_03.05.2014). About the note at the end referring to the project’s intent—is it possible that what could be a corporate marketing ploy on the front end positively contributes to a vibrant local culture? If consumers keep demanding this type of sensitive response from national corporations, I hope with time this business strategy evolves and matures from just local products and signs that say “Brooklyn” all the way to careful stewardship of a community, i.e. good use of the Coignet Building, etc. Thanks again. Chris Hoal Intern Architect Gresham Smith & Partners Thanks for this very needed article (“Set in Stone” AN 03_03.05.2014). What has happened to this important building is a tragedy, but hopefully it’s turned the corner to its restoration. It’s a shame, however, that the Whole Foods building was allowed to completely abut the building—some thoughtful massing would have made the situation much more bearable. Historic Districts Council
After much backlash from New York City Councilmember Brad Lander and several community members in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Lightstone Group has decided to abandon its proposed “minor modification” in favor of keeping the as-of-right design for its Gowanus Canal-side development that is in compliance with the rezoning passed in 2009. Today the New York City Department of City Planning gave Lightstone the greenlight to move ahead with its 700-unit residential development on the Gowanus. The “Minor Modification” would have used a waiver to extend the depth in the rear yard. And while the design initially won the community board’s support, the damage and flooding from Hurricane Sandy in the area generated concern and protest among some residents. According to a statement released by Lightstone today, the design approved is “very similar to the Minor Modification design,” which includes the identical massing along Bond Street and along portions of First and Second Streets, the same floor area and uses of retail and residential space, and the same number of units and affordable apartments. But Lightstone did manage to deviate from the original design by Toll Brothers, the previous developer, by “gently stepping up" the building heights toward the canal and adding 2,955 square feet of open space to accommodate an expanded public walkway along the canal and pull the buildings away from the waterfront. The developers will also adhere to new FEMA maps and implement the required changes to protect the building from flooding such as raising the lowest occupied floors and moving all mechanical equipment to above grade. The blog Pardon Me For Asking reported that even though the Minor Modification is off the table, Brad Lander is not budging on his position. “In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I continue to believe it is a mistake to move forward with dense, high-rise, residential development without a comprehensive plan for infrastructure and land use regulations that Gowanus needs,” said Lander.