85 North 3rd Street (Mill Building) exterior
When Minah and Greg Worley first moved into their Williamsburg loft in 2007 they brought with them only one piece of furniture – a bed. Their apartment as it looks today is a testament to how far they’ve since come. They were among the first residents of the Mill Building at 85 North 3rd Street, a former factory built for the lithography company Hinds and Ketcham, after its residential conversion. Theirs was a spec unit, so the raw loft space had already been turned into a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment. A simple design philosophy guides their traditional but contemporary style. “The overall aesthetic is clean and simple,” said Minah.
She knew she wanted a “white, bright” bedroom in which she felt as relaxed as she does on a beach. The serenity of the master bedroom permeates the rest of the home, and simplicity dictates aesthetics throughout. “I like minimalism because I want everything to have a purpose. I don’t like excess,” she said. (more…)
I have an informal roster of about ten top Brooklyn architects from the late 19th, early 20th century, who come up quite often on my pages. These are the men who designed many of the homes, houses of worship, commercial and civic buildings that make Brooklyn what it is, and has been for the last hundred and fifty years; a great looking city. Rudolf L. Daus is on that list and with good reason – he was extremely talented and extremely well connected in Brooklyn’s building and political worlds. One of those attributes would keep you in beer and skittles, both give you the power and talent to get top commissions, top money, and keep you in champagne. The bubbly must have been flowing at the Daus house.
Daus was born in Mexico City to German parents in 1854. Many German Catholics immigrated to Mexico and Texas during the mid-19th century, the same time other large groups were also immigrating to New York City. The Daus family came from wealth, and young Rudolph was educated in the United States, Germany and France. He studied at the famous L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he won top honors, including the coveted Achille LeClerc Medal, as well as other prizes. In 1879, he came back to NY, and worked at the studios of two American L’Ecole alumnae, Richard Morris Hunt and George B. Post, both extremely significant architects in their own right. Hunt was one of the premiere architects of the Gilded Age, who designed Carnegie Hall and Biltmore, the Vanderbilt mansion in Asheville, NC, while Post was the designer of the Brooklyn Historical Society and the NY Stock Exchange. Daus set up his own practice in 1884 in downtown Brooklyn, and worked there until he retired because of ill health, at the age of 54.
Once he was settled in Brooklyn with his own practice, the commissions began coming in. He also began courting the powerful men of Brooklyn’s political world, and his cultured, Old World charm and American style brashness and talent proved to be a winning combination. (more…)
Kudos to Harden Van Arnam Architects for their design of affordable housing at 291 Bainbridge Street in Bed Stuy. The size and scale of the building fits in well with its neighbors. We love the green cornice with raised dots, the windows, and the brick details. Bainbridge Manor will be four stories high with 23 units consisting of studios and two-bedrooms. Half the apartments will be for low income families, and half for homeless families “coming directly from the domestic violence shelter system,” said developer New Destiny Housing. On-site services and facilities will include counseling and a children’s indoor playroom. This is just outside the historic district near the Utica stop. When we stopped by, it looked like builder Bruno Frustaci Contracting had reached the fourth floor. Construction started in August. Click through to the jump to see it in progress. (more…)
We love carriage houses for their charm and aesthetic appeal, and also for their evocation of old New York. They allude to a now-gone city of cobblestone streets and horse drawn carriages. Brooklyn Heights, along with Clinton Hill and Cobble Hill, has quite a few. Above, Hunts Lane. Click through to the jump to see more. (more…)
Blogger Elizabeth Finkelstein started The Wooden House Project to explore Brooklyn’s wood frame houses. She is a visiting professor at Pratt, and previously was Director of Preservation & Research at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, a researcher at the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and Program Manager at openhousenewyork. Her three contributors have equally interesting backgrounds in historic preservation.
Brownstoner: Why did you found The Wooden House Project?
Elizabeth Finkelstein: A few years ago, my husband and I were involved in the process of buying a wooden house in the South Slope. It was a tiny house and utterly charming — two bays wide, only two stories tall — and, as I found out shortly after seeing it, the oldest house on the block. That was my first time ever being in a wooden house here. And my first thought was — “wow! This does NOT feel like Brooklyn!” It felt like an urban cottage. But as I did more and more research, I realized that it actually was VERY Brooklyn — that entire neighborhoods here are made up primarily of wooden row houses. Not just the South Slope, but also Greenwood Heights, Greenpoint, parts of Williamsburg, Bushwick — the list goes on. People just don’t think of these houses when they think of Brooklyn, because the brownstone has become so iconic. I searched and searched, and I couldn’t find anyone writing about them. So I thought, well, I’ll just start the discussion.
BS: You recently told Brooklyn Based “there’s a restoration movement happening.” Could you tell us more about that?
EF: The neighborhoods that have the largest concentrations of wooden houses also happen to be some of the ones that people are moving to right now. Young couples just can’t afford a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights anymore. They are moving to Greenwood Heights, to Bushwick, and discovering these homes. They want to restore them. My hunch is that in 15 years, these neighborhoods will look very different.
After the jump, what it takes to restore a wood frame house… (more…)
Today Morgan Munsey, better known in these parts as Brownstoner commenter Amzi Hill, takes readers of Design Brooklyn on a fun historical tour of Bed Stuy, complete with social and architectural history and photographs. The story starts when Brooklyn was still Breuckelen, and Bed Stuy was being settled by the Lefferts family. It follows development in the 19th and 20th centuries and the changes brought on by Robert Moses in the ’50s and ’60s. Munsey, who also leads walking tours with our own Montrose Morris and blogs at Save Bedford Stuyvesant, even touches on the mystery of prominent female developers in the late 19th century. Definitely worth a read!
A Short Historical Tour of Bedford-Stuyvesant, by Morgan Munsey [Design Brooklyn]
Photo via Design Brooklyn
We’re excited to hear that the folks over at The Wooden House Project blog are going to start giving tours of wood frame houses throughout Brooklyn. There is one scheduled for South Slope this Sunday and one for Greenpoint on July 22. More info and tickets here.
Photo by The Wooden House Project
BuzzBuzzHome spotted a rendering for the 19-story, 66-unit building slated to rise on the former site of a Hallmark store in Brooklyn Heights. The developer for the mixed-use project at 172-174 Montague Street is Bonjour Capital; as previously reported, the architect is Daniel Goldner Architects. CPEX is already shopping around the retail space, which should be ready in the first quarter of next year. How do you like the design? Do you think the building will be a plus for the street?
172-174 Montague Rising 19 Stories in Brooklyn Heights [BuzzBuzzHome]
19-Story Build Coming Soon to Former Hallmark Site? [Brownstoner] GMAP
When the 625-unit, low-income housing complex Marcus Garvey Village opened in Brownsville in the mid-’70s, hopes were high that the low-density housing with separate entrances for each family would give its occupants a sense of ownership and pride and help to reduce poverty and crime. That has not happened, alas, as The New York Times noted, and the idea that architecture can create social change has been largely abandoned. After all, bigger forces than architecture affect the poverty rate, which has risen from 29 percent to nearly 40 percent in the area since the complex opened. However, the article notes, courtyard areas in the Village became an important link in the drug trade of the ’80s and ’90s because they were shielded from public view. So it seems as though architecture and design, as Jane Jacobs so clearly saw, has an effect after all.
A Housing Solution Gone Awry [NY Times]
Photo by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark
Former Dwell Editor in Chief and “Prefab” author Allison Arieff believes prefab housing may finally realize its long-elusive promise of cheaper, better homes thanks to four big projects going up in Brooklyn and elsewhere in the City. The first is, of course, B2, the Atlantic Yards tower designed by SHoP Architects that, at 32 stories, will be the tallest prefab tower in the world when constructed. “In contrast to regular old housing construction, which happens pretty much the same way it has for decades, if not a century, prefab has long been promising better design and innovation and — the key to its intrigue — a more affordable path to good architecture,” she wrote. And: “Prefab is best utilized in the design and construction not of single-family homes but of multifamily housing.” Architect designed homes make up only 5 to 7 percent of houses in the U.S. but “multifamily opens the door for those numbers to increase.” The architect and principal of Resolution: 4, Joseph Tanney, said, “The residential modular industry is salivating at the prospect of building more multifamily projects. It’s a natural extension to think in terms of aggregation of the modules into higher density patterns, both architecturally and economically. I don’t think that they are just now discovering prefab for multifamily. It’s just taking time for it to evolve into a higher level of design.” Do you think the prefab construction at Atlantic Yards will cut construction costs and pass on savings to the public in the form of better design than conventional methods?
Prefab Lives! [NY Times]
Rendering of B2 by SHoP Architects
The building at 550 Myrtle Avenue that currently houses the Pratt Store will be getting a major makeover by architectural firm WASA/Studio A in preparation for its transformation into a media center for the school. The building has 15,000 square feet of space and will house sound stages, a recording studio, mixing rooms and a screening room, DNAinfo reported. WASA/Studio A also designed Pratt’s Myrtle Hall, where Utrecht Art Supply Store is located. The new design is still in the planning stages, but the building’s mezzanine will stay. No word yet on whether Pratt intends to expand upward. The redo of 550 Myrtle Avenue is expected to be completed by fall of 2014.
Video and Media Center to Replace Soon-To-Be Shuttered Pratt Store [DNAinfo]
Photo by Google Maps
A prototype for emergency housing is going up in Downtown Brooklyn, right next to the Office of Emergency Management. Designed by Dumbo’s Garrison Architects for manufacturer American Manufactured Systems and Services of Vienna, Va., it’s a three-story, three-unit building with two three-bedroom apartments over one one-bedroom, handicapped accessible apartment, The New York Post reported. What makes the housing suitable for emergency situations is how quickly it can be built. Each unit is 40 feet long and comes preassembled. A contractor clips the units together and hooks up the utilities. They even have balconies and photovoltaic panels on the roof to generate electricity. The design meets all city codes, and the concept could eventually be used for permanent high-density housing of no more than four stories, said the architect.
Crisis Housing Advances [NY Post]
Rendering via NY Post
Queens has a lot of great things going for it. This architectural specimen isn’t one of them.
A lot of great new buildings have gone up in Brooklyn recently and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has noticed. It plans to award the Barclays Center the prize for economic development in its Building Brooklyn awards today, according to The New York Daily News. Other winners include the Wythe Hotel for Adaptive Reuse, City Point for Retail, the Botanic Garden visitors center for Energy Efficiency, BAM Fisher for Arts and Culture, Pier 5 for Landscape and Open Space, a Toll Brothers development at 205 Water Street, pictured above, for Residential Multi-Family, the Pitkin Theater for Historic Preservation and Community Development, and Park Slope brownstone The Subtractive House for Single Family Residential. The panel of judges included architects, city planners, real estate executives, a representative from the borough president’s office, and the Daily News reporter who wrote the story. The awards ceremony will take place in July.
Barclays Among Architectural Standouts Honored by Chamber of Commerce [NY Daily News]
Photo by robfaulkner.com via NY Daily News
We’ve been following the Congress Street townhouse project for some time, and now Curbed brings word that sales have started! The nine townhouses at 110-126 Congress Street are on the market with a new web site and a new name, The Townhouses of Cobble Hill. Prices start at $3.65 million for a three-bedroom, five-bath home and go up to $3.875 million for a five-bedroom, five-bathroom home. (The prices are about a million higher than originally predicted.) Approved by Landmarks, they are traditional yet modern. What do you think of the design?
In Cobble Hill, Yet Another Crop of New Brooklyn Townhouses [Curbed]
110-126 Congress Street [The Townhouses of Cobble Hill] GMAP
More Details on Cobble Hill Townhouse Project [Brownstoner] (more…)
Astute observers of architecture in Greenpoint may have noticed a curious phenomenon: Several dozen small apartment buildings scattered throughout the neighborhood, most sporting red brick facades, balconies and white columns, and all named ”Belvedere.” Turns out the style and the name started with one development firm, the Times discovered. The name refers to the Belvedere Palace, the state house of the president of Poland, where the original partners in the firm are from. Critical opinion on their architectural merits is mixed. ”They could be worse,” said an architect and Greenpoint resident. “Their heart is in the right place; I think they’re trying to be contextual,” said Matthew Coody, founder of Preservation Greenpoint. The style, however, is catching on: A different developer liked the look of the building and hired a Belvedere architect to construct “Osho Castle,” a similar development right down the block from Belvedere XXX.
Building Condos by the Numbers, Skipping Some Along the Way [NY Times]
Belvedere XXVII by catasterist
What we are reading this week about decorating and renovating old houses:
We were thrilled to see The Wooden House Project start up again in March after a hiatus of about a year and a half. The blog focuses on the history and restoration of frame house facades in Brooklyn. Founder Elizabeth Finkelstein lives in South Slope, land of wood frame houses, and is a preservation consultant. Two contributors both work at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Above, two gorgeous, partially restored wood frame houses at 69 and 71 Dean Street in Boerum Hill. We guess the side of No. 69 still needs a little work. The door frames look about 1840s-ish to us. Does anyone know if the unpainted wood fronts and six-over-six windows are historically accurate? (more…)
Four churches will be participating in this year’s Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Open House Weekend. This weekend, check out the art and architecture at the following historic houses of worship (descriptions by Landmarks Conservancy):
Plymouth Church, 75 Hicks Street, erected in 1849-50 (pictured above). Fiery abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher preached here from 1847 until 1887. Among the thousands of worshipers who came to hear him were Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.
First Unitarian Congregational Society, 48 Monroe Place, erected in 1844 in the Gothic Revival style by Minard Lafever. The design of the building was loosely based on late-English Gothic prototypes, such as Kings College Chapel on Cambridge.
South Bushwick Reformed Church, 15 Himrod Street, completed in a park-like setting by Cornelius Woglom in 1853 by families from twenty neighboring farms. The wood-frame church is unusual in its combination of austere Greek Revival forms and is crowned with a Georgian-inspired tower and steeple.
Grace Episcopal Church, 254 Hicks Street, designed by renowned Gothic Revival architect Richard Upjohn and constructed in 1847-1849. The sanctuary features figural stained glass memorial windows by many prominent studios, including three windows by the Tiffany studios.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission has put together an online presentation about jazz in New York City featuring many locations in Brooklyn. The red house above, 117 Saint Felix Street, is where jazz singer Betty Carter lived from 1972 until her death in 1998. The house was built circa 1859.
Photo by PropertyShark