With tens of millions of dollars, New York City hopes to jumpstart a transformation of Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood into a hub for artists and tech companies. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the city is spending $100 million to transform part of the Brooklyn Army Terminal—an old navy-supply hub—into space for light manufacturing. That investment is just one piece of the millions of dollars flowing into the neighborhood from real estate investors. While the money will be significant, giving new life to Sunset Park's industrial corridor will take more than artisanal pickles and startups. It will take great public space and significant improvements to the neighborhood's streetscape. At this point, however, it's not clear if that type of investment is in the cards. About 20 blocks north of the Brooklyn Army Terminal is Industry City, a six-million square foot former industrial complex that currently includes startups, artist spaces, and light manufacturing. The impressive space hosted events for this year's New York Design Week and will soon be home to the Brooklyn Nets practice facility. To continue the building's transformation, a group of investors has purchased a 49 percent stake in the complex and plans to lease remaining space to food manufacturers with connected retail spaces. The idea here is to attract locals and tourists to the site. Nearby is the Liberty View Industrial Plaza, another early 20th Century naval supply center, which has received $80 million from some deep-pocketed individuals who want to create affordable space for small companies pushed out of the Garment District. As the Journal noted, all this investment could be muted by the fact that these buildings are pretty difficult to get to from the subway and the neighborhood's residential and commercial centers. "After decades of neglect, roads in Sunset Park are filled with potholes, some sewer lines are aging and walking from the residential areas to the factories requires a nerve-racking trip across the Gowanus Expressway," reported the Journal. "Fixing all that will require significant investment." The mayor's Vision Zero plan could play a role in making that connection safer and more attractive. The waterfront side of these buildings could use some work as well. Where DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights have the Brooklyn Bridge Park, Sunset Park has concrete piers. There is one glimmer of hope, though. The Bush Terminal Pier Park, the ever-delayed park, which has been under construction since 2009, may finally open this fall.
Posts tagged with "Manufacturing":
KieranTimberlake has long pushed the boundaries of conventional facade design. The Philadelphia-based firm started using pressure-equalized rain screen systems in the 1980s, well before other architects brought the technology on board. Their Melvin J. and Claire Levine Hall, at the University of Pennsylvania (2003), was the first actively ventilated curtain wall in North America. The designers at KieranTimberlake have introduced new materials and assemblies, such as the SmartWrap building skin deployed at Cellophane House, part of MoMA’s Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling exhibit. One of the firm’s latest projects, the Embassy of the United States, London, incorporates an outer envelope of three-dimensional ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) panels with integrated photovoltaic cells. Thus founding partner James Timberlake speaks from experience when he calls out the American AEC industry for a lack of attention to high-performance building envelopes. “We see performance—not only of the building, put particularly the facade—as being a critical element of architecture, and of the long-term sustainability of not only architecture but building in general,” said Timberlake. “We think that architects, manufacturers, and contractors need to be thinking innovatively in that way as they help build the future of not only North America, but China and Europe as well.” For Timberlake, who will deliver the keynote address at next month’s facades+ Chicago conference, the missing link is production. “I think the United States and North American market has abrogated its duty to produce high-performance, sustainable, and affordable facade choices over the last four decades,” he said. “The last time we produced anything that was innovative was in the late 1960s. Since then, all of that production went to Asia and Europe. I think it’s now time to make that stuff here.” Moving facade manufacturing back to the United States would benefit manufacturers and designers as well as the economy in general, says Timberlake. “The President of the United States has, in the last few weeks, put out a clarion call for manufacturing to return to the USA rather than offshoring. I think we can be competitive; I think we should be producing innovative wall strategies here,” he said, noting the potential impact on unemployment. “There have always been [American] companies that have been innovative with bespoke strategies, but at this point they are considered niche constructors. In the long term we would like to see those niche manufacturers expand their market reach to be the distributors for some of these other types of facade strategies, or even return to producing the kinds of curtain walls that made the Lever House and Mies van der Rohe’s buildings in Chicago, and made the gleaming skyscrapers of LA.” Architects, said Timberlake, would benefit from greater integration and lower labor and shipping costs were facade manufacture to relocate from abroad. The key to reintegrating facade manufacture and production, argued Timberlake, is demonstrating the existence of a market for cutting-edge envelopes. “They need to see that the design and engineering capability is here in the United States,” he said. “Three-dimensional design used to be the purview of Europe and Asia, but over the last five to ten years American architects and engineers have become quite capable of working three dimensionally. We’re turning out three dimensional designs and engineering solutions that are unique and innovative in terms of their technology, and also are affordable solutions and quite sustainable.” As proof that it can be done, Timberlake points to auto companies, including Volkswagen and Tesla, that have recently set up production centers in the United States. “I don’t see curtain walls and facades any different from that,” he said. “There’s a robust labor market ripe for that to be rolled out here.” Timberlake admitted that his concern with the building-products supply chain might strike some as unusual. “What architect thinks about that? We do,” he said, referencing KieranTimberlake’s history of integrating design and research. “We see economy as a part of design; design incorporates economy. You have to think about the market, sustainability, affordability, production, and manufacture. You have to think about how good it looks, and you have to think about whether you can get it to the marketplace.”
In recent years, Brooklyn's waterfront has morphed into a breeding ground for start-ups, tech agencies, and boutique manufacturing. Now the massive Industry City complex in Sunset Park could emerge as the next creative hub in the borough joining other booming neighborhoods to the north such as DUMBO, the Navy Yard, and Williamsburg. Crain's reported that Jamestown Properties, a real estate management and investment company, which owns Chelsea Market and the Milk Studios Building in Manhattan, is teaming up with Angelo Gordon and Belvedere Capital to purchase the sprawling 6.5 million-square-foot Industry City site. The developers hope to turn the 17 buildings on the property into a mix of office, studio, and warehouse space to accommodate a variety of uses including local manufacturing, media, and film and television. A 50,000-square-foot space in Industry City is already home to Makerbot, the company that manufactures 3-D printers. Jamestown has hired Andrew Kimball, who recently stepped down from his post as CEO and President of the Navy Yard, to run the new Industry City complex when it is complete. Kimball has been instrumental in reviving the 300-acre, city owned shipyard into a flexible workspace for for urban manufacturing, media, and the arts. Several of the buildings were damaged from Hurricane Sandy and will require substantial repairs. Michael Philips, Chief Operating Officer of Jamestown, said that they might need to spend hundreds of millions to rehabilitate the buildings on the property.
David Ehrenberg has been appointed president and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a 300-acre, former ship-building base turned city-owned industrial park. Ehrenberg is currently an executive vice president at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Over the last decade the Navy Yard has emerged as an essential zone for preserving and growing New York's manufacturing sector, especially small businesses. The Yard currently includes 4.5 million square feet of leasable space, with an occupancy rate of 99 percent. An additional 1.8 million square feet are expected to open within the next 2 years. More than 6,400 people currently work at the Yard in industries as diverse as printing, furniture making, and film and television production. Ehrenberg studied government and urban studies at Wesleyan University and has a joint master's degree in Urban Policy and Planning from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. “The Brooklyn Navy Yard is the national model of an urban, sustainable industrial park and I am honored to be entrusted with its continued growth,” said David Ehrenberg in a statement. “I look forward to working with the local community, city officials, and businesses to bring more jobs and modern-day, innovative manufacturers to the Yard.”
The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium is striking back against a wide-ranging problem that has scarred few regions more than this corner of the Midwest: sprawl. The non-profit is a collaboration between city, county, and regional government entities, as well as private foundations and academic institutions. It is funded by a $4.25 million grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with $2.4 million in local matching funds. As part of its final push in a three-year effort to chart a sustainable future for Northeast Ohio, the voluntary group has convened a series of public forums to persuade roughly 400 municipal entities in the 12-county area to reverse course before business-as-usual development trends further burdens the regional economy. New infrastructure to accommodate more suburban development would leave the region as a whole with a 33.7 percent gap between revenues and expenses, the Consortium estimates, if people continue to move away. If population loss is less severe, that gap could shrink to only 6.4 percent, but in that case local developers would need to sacrifice nearly 50,000 acres for suburban development. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports on the Consortium’s third way: A third scenario, labeled “Do Things Differently,” assumes that the region consumes only 4,100 acres of land through additional suburban development, but builds 2.5 times the amount of new urban housing than under the “Trend” or “Business as Usual” scenario. “Do Things Differently” also assumes that 20 percent more jobs would be located near transit than if current trends are allowed to continue. The result: a 10.4 percent surplus in local government budgets. Cleveland has made a push for high-density development and urban renewal, including recent developments around Cuyahoga County’s new $465 million convention center. But as Northeast Ohio attempts to escape its past, regional initiatives could play an increasingly important role.
Much has been made of the decline of American industry and, more recently, the rise of small-scale urban industry, but one of the largest international manufacturers, Taiwan-based Foxconn, could change the industrial scene completely if it decides to build factories in the United States. The Guardian reports that Foxconn is considering Detroit and Los Angeles for potential outposts thanks to rising costs overseas, but the company infamous for manufacturing Apple products among others at its 800,000-worker-strong Chinese facilities would have to adapt to radically different American ways of working. It was early last year—after a string of workers committed suicide and a lethal explosion tore through a plant—when Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook asked the Fair Labor Association to assess Foxconn’s working conditions. Reforms where set in place that doubled Foxconn’s worker salary levels in China and cut overtime hours. The increase in costs in places like China has prompted the company to consider locations overseas. In September, plans were announced for a nearly $500 million factory to be built in São Paulo, Brazil where Foxconn will hire up to 10,000 people to make computer and some Apple products. The company also plans to open a new phone factory in Indonesia by the end of 2012. If built, Foxconn's new U.S. factories and work standards would be altered for the American workforces, who won’t likely work for China’s low wages or live in work dormitories. Instead of manufacturing products that rely heavily on hand labor, the American factories would primarily build flat screen televisions, which use a primarily automated process. Company officials would not comment on the possible expansion into the U.S., but did say American engineers will be invited to its Chinese facilities to learn about its manufacturing process.
American manufacturing may be on the rocks, but Deborah Berke, principal at Deborah Berke & Partners, believes that by adding a little bourbon, one Kentucky city can make an industrial comeback. Berke is leading a graduate studio at Yale exploring the future of boutique manufacturing in the United States and using an urban distillery in Louisville as a case study. "I have been passionate about urban manufacturing for a long time,” Berke said. The studio is a continuation of ideas Berke began investigating over ten years ago in a previous Yale studio about boutique industry along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. “We’re looking into the new interest in artisanal industries, everything that could be a spur for boutique manufacturing.” “We’re looking at Louisville as a case study, a model that can be applied to other cities,” said Noah Biklen, a critic at Yale assisting Berke with the studio. “We were trying to connect the studio with what’s going on in the U.S. now. We wanted to look at the idea of work and how to introduce manufacturing back into the city.” Students have been asked to design a modern bourbon distillery on a half-block site on Louisville’s Main Street across from a historic row of former bourbon warehouses nicknamed Whiskey Row that were partially saved from demolition last year. The program is flexible within a narrow window, Berke said. For instance, students may choose to incorporate a handful of 19th century buildings into the plan or work with a blank site. In the end, a 40,000 to 60,000 square foot facility including spaces for fermentation, stills, aging, storage, and loading and unloading will be designed for the site. Berke said small industries like a boutique distillery can be the key to reinvigorating a city’s manufacturing core and to providing hundreds of new jobs as one industry fuels other tangent industries around it. “It’s not small scale as in three people knitting tea cozies, but it is small scale compared to the auto industry,” she said. A bourbon distillery employing 75 people could encourage still makers, custom glass and bottle manufacturers, palette makers, and label printers in the surrounding city to create a jobs ripple effect that adds up fast. The studio recently visited Louisville to see the site first hand, study the bourbon making process, and, of course, try a little bourbon along the way. “We had a great time drinking bourbon,” Berke explained, quickly adding, “but we drank responsibly.” The class took bourbon seriously during the trip. They learned about the distilling process by visiting local distilleries such as Woodford Reserve, where students could see the variable scale of the industry. “You could have a still in your living room or you could be producing millions and millions of gallons of alcohol a year,” Berke said. They also sampled different kinds of bourbon, taking in flights at Louisville’s many bourbon bars. Berke previously designed the 21c Museum Hotel farther west on Main Street, converting another former bourbon warehouse into a luxury hotel and art museum. Later in the semester, the studio will make a trip to New York to study existing boutique industries in Brooklyn such as an urban gin distiller and other companies in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Manhattan’s Garment District. [Via WFPL.]
Marketplace had a downright enlightening segment the other day about the potential and peril of using sustainability as a tool for economic development. New York and Chicago have been doing this with some success, and now Cleveland's mayor wants in on the act. But instead of simply promoting sustainability through tax credits, development bonuses, and mandates, Frank Jackson took a clever approach, saying whomever built a LED plant in the depressed Rust Belt city would get the contract to outfit it with all its civic lighting needs. It was a brilliantly shrewd move, until it all fell apart. Listen in to find out what happened.