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 "Urban Industry":
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.”
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.
With investment in American cities on the rise, mixed-use development is all the buzz, but architect Deborah Berke says we must be careful not to leave industry out of the mix. "We need to sway mixed-use back to the direction of a real mix. We've gone to all residential," she said. Berke and critic Noah Biklen just finished teaching an architectural studio at Yale on boutique urban manufacturing, where students explored bringing a bourbon distillery to downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Paired with trips to Louisville and New York to study the bourbon making process and existing urban manufacturing operations, students began the semester by studying the industrial container or wrapper as an object to inform a prototype industrial facility—from tofu to bike seat manufacturing—before moving on to the urban distillery. Each student proposal took a unique approach to urban manufacturing, challenging established notions of how industry functions, looks, and interacts with the city. "I've been teaching a long time and it was a very good day for presentations," Berke said. "I loved the extraordinary diversity of the proposals. There's no single right answer." Students presented the relationship between manufacturing identity, brand identity, and architecture as a cohesive whole, finishing up the semester by designing a branding strategy for each distillery including a proposed bourbon bottle. The students' distilleries occupied a portion of a prominent block along Louisville's Main Street, opposite a row of former bourbon warehouses nicknamed Whiskey Row, which is slated for renovation into, among other things, a boutique distillery. Ranging in size from 40,000 to 60,000 square feet, program requirements included distillation components, storage "rackhouses," bottling operations, loading areas, and a public component including a lobby. Among the issues explored by the students was whether all components of the manufacturing process should be included in an urban setting and how much the public should be invited into the new facility. Their final presentations in late April wowed the jury, which consisted of Patrick Bellew, Andy Bow, Joe Day, Eric Doninger, Karen Fairbanks, Martin Finio, Ann Marie Gardner, Alan Plattus, Annabelle Selldorf, and Henry Urbach. "I vetted everybody as a bourbon drinker," Berke quipped at the review. The review wrapped up with a toast—of bourbon, of course—and one last discussion of the future of urban manufacturing. Berke said the student proposals demonstrate how boutique industries can operate in an urban environment. "Architecture and design can help citizens visualize the potential of boutique manufacturing," Berke said. "I don't think architects can create an industrial model. They can create an urban model." Boutique industry emerging in cities is all about products that already have an urban market. Daniel Dickens' Alchemy Bourbon, situated on the site's most prominent corner, is divided into two zones, the distillery and a series of separated storage warehouses, providing for fire protection for the highly flammable spirit as it ages. Each small "rackhouse" is positioned in a landscaped yard to provide varying climactic conditions that impact the product's flavor profile. Dickens chose a Cor-ten classing for its appearance of strength and the rusting process of change as it reflects the aging of bourbon. Kathryn Lenehan proposed a glass box covered with wooden louvers reclaimed from old bourbon barrels for her Oak & Char distillery that reveal the theatricality of the industrial process to the street outside. Operable windows allow natural ventilation inside the facility and a great hall through the center organizes a bar and tasting room, garden, and theater alongside industrial functions. Margaret Hu's Black Diamond Bourbon Distillery positions a new semi-transparent black box alongside a repurposed historic building wrapping the multi-layered industrial processes inside. Daylight seeps through the light-transmitting fiber-cement facade, creating a sense of intrigue inside. Spaces containing various components of the distillation process are positioned to create a sense of unknown origin when walking through the space, inviting visitors to explore further. Seema Kairam opted to focus on bourbon production, leaving the storage component in a less-centralized location to mitigate real estate costs and flammability at her River Bend Bourbon distillery. The facility is imagined as high-tech glass shed covered in metal louvers able to bridge various scales of production depending on how much bourbon is desired. Spaces are organized around shared expertise and shared equipment accessed through a system of catwalks. Lauren Page's Main Market seeks to exploit the site's eroded urban form to insert a sliver of green space forming an armature that could guide future urban growth. Dispensing with the production process completely, the project operates as a public market for boutique distillers to sell their wares. The building's form winds through the city and under Main Street with a linear park above. Mollie Ponto chose to reuse two of the historic Whiskey Row buildings across from the original site with a new glass and steel rackhouse at one end for her Repository Row Bourbon distillery. The proposal takes advantage if the sloping site's varying entry levels to allow separation of loading facilities from a public entrance. An educational component including a bourbon archive plays a key role in the distillery's design, forming a central spine around which the industrial processes are organized. Rafael Ng proposed a courtyard layout for his distillery he described as a "gastronomic temple." Clad in a light-emitting brick-latticework in a flemish-bond pattern, the exterior facade resembled a modern take on traditional rackhouse design in rural Kentucky. Accessed from a corner, industrial processes wrap around the courtyard, which could hold public functions such as markets or dinners. Francesco Galetto's Chester Prescott Distillation Tower stacks the distillery's industrial processes to create a gravity-powered, closed-system vertical factory topped with a tasting room on its roof. Grains are elevated to the top of the tower and proceed through a distillation process wrapped around a central core, as demonstrated in the unwound section above. The tower's facade is left open around to reveal the industrial processes happening inside and is wrapped with a bronze ribbon that reflects the chemical process of distillation. John Lacy's Cabinet of Curiosities proposal focuses on bourbon making not only as industry, but as a form of art. The distillery is organized around a linear procession of sensory experiences, from the sensation of touching grain as it enters the facility from a rooftop funnel, to the smell of mash cooking in large vats, to the rattling sound of the distillation process. Organized around an industrial courtyard, the structure is shrouded in a metal mesh veil acting as a unifying element of the design. Diana Nee proposed an "urban-industrial spectacle" along an alleyway at the block for her Alley Industries distillery. The 40-foot-wide building is clad in glass on the north facade to reveal the industrial activity inside and hovers atop the alley below to bring new life to the historic city infrastructure. The south facade incorporates permeable, plantable mesh allowing for natural ventilation and includes two rooftop spheres that capture carbon dioxide from the manufacturing process. All images courtesy respective students. Click on a thumbnail to launch slideshow.