Oculus - Fall 2013 - (Page 22)
one block over
High-rise towers and waterfront parks are coming
to this humble neighborhood in Brooklyn
B Y C L A I R E W ILS O N
fter the baby strollers, the second thing you notice in Greenpoint,
Brooklyn, is the hipster quotient: guys in 1970s-style full beards and longish hair, lots of big ’80s-era eyeglasses, and no one dressing like they have an
actual job in a real office. But it may be that the hipsters have had their day.
Massive residential development is coming to Greenpoint, a modest, charming, and somewhat isolated enclave of low-rise 19th-century brownstones and
row houses. It has long been considered to be the poor man’s Williamsburg.
The waterfront is about to be transformed as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to develop once-industrial sites and return the shore to the people
who live there.
The largest residential development will be Park Tower Group’s 22-acre
Greenpoint Landing, a cluster of 10 residential towers ranging from six to 30
or 40 stories. Total units will be about 5,000, with many reserved as affordable
housing. According to Gary Handel, AIA, founding partner, Handel Architects, which is designing the development, it will also have a 640-seat pre-K–8
public school and retail in the base. The look and feel of the project will be informed by the neighborhood’s manufacturing legacy, vestiges of which are still
a part of the landscape. “We wanted to create a building that acknowledges the
industrial heritage of the area – brick, stone, metal, industrial sash windows,”
Handel says. “What you would see in an old warehouse.” And, for the first time
in its history, the surrounding area will have landscaped parkland.
CetraRuddy is also designing a waterfront complex. It will have two
towers, 30 and 40 stories respectively, set on an eight-story base within a
112,000-square-foot parcel. Of its 720 rental units, roughly 200 will be set
aside for affordable housing.
Greenpoint was rezoned for this kind of residential development in 2005,
but the rush to build slowed to a trickle during the economic downturn. Some
projects went forward, like the Pencil Factory conversion done by Daniel
Goldner Architects, as did a number of small-scale condo projects on side
streets. Kickstarter, the uber-hip crowd-sourcing success story, will move
from Manhattan into a converted Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory on Kent
Street, designed by Ole Sondresen Architect.
The new, deep-pocketed residents will bring many changes to the landscape. Hip bars and restaurants, like beer specialist Tørst, designed by Oliver
(above left) Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint’s main commercial artery. (above right) The Pencil
Factory condo by Daniel Goldner Architects, at 122 West Street and Kent Street.
Oculus Fall 2013
(above) CetraRuddy’s 77 Commercial Street waterfront complex
includes two towers set on an eight-story base.
and Evan Haslegrave of hOmE; Brooklyn Label, a
bar/restaurant; and Five Leaves café, are moving in
among the mom-and-pop establishments, many
of them Polish, on and around Manhattan Avenue,
the main drag.
Much of the change will be good. There is now
ferry service between Greenpoint and Manhattan,
and the lousy G-train service is slated for improvement. McCarren Pool reopened last year after
being closed for 29 years.
The best part of the new development will
be the parks. Greenpoint Landing will have four
acres of open space designed by James Corner
Field Operations. Planted with native species,
it will include a lawn, restored pier, terracing,
picnic area, and dog run, according to Karen
Tamir, senior associate, James Corner Field
Operations. The three-acre Box Street Park will
abut the CetraRuddy building in what was a lot
for MTA Access-A-Ride vans. (No designer has
been named.) Stantec will renovate and expand
the existing Newtown Barge Park. The 1.6-acre
Transmitter Park, named for the WNYC radio
transmitter than once stood there, was opened in
the spring. It was designed by WXY architecture
+ urban planning with landscape architect Donna
Walcavage, FASLA, LEED AP, (now a principal at
“What will happen here in Greenpoint will be
transformative,” says John Cetra, AIA, principal,
CetraRuddy. Indeed, when completed, this necklace of waterfront parks will compensate for the
tall buildings that are going to change the character of this enclave forever.
Claire Wilson writes for the New York Times.
Politics = Architecture
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2013
Letter from the President
A Word from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: The City More Beautiful
Affordable Housing in 2013: Communities, Not Containers
The Future of Prefab
From Ports to Parks: New York’s Waterfront Wager
East River Magic
Shoring Up for the Future
FAR ROC Rocks!
Index to Advertisers
Oculus - Fall 2013