Still Out of Scale on State Street

In case you’ve been wondering why Robert Scarano rubs people the wrong way, this eyesore at 326 State Street in Boerum Hill should speak for itself. When we posted about this place back in January, we wondered how he was able to get 8,833 square feet of space approved. The answer seems to be that this is gross square footage and not actual square footage that DOB cares about. Size aside, however, the fact remains that this building is just a giant “F— You” to the community. In making zero attempt to respect its surroundings, it is a poster child for the need to strengthen and expand landmark boundaries. The poor neighbors.
326 State Street: When Too Much FAR Is a Bad Thing [Brownstoner] GMAP P*Shark DOB

48 Comment

  • I know he is just completely F*cking hated here and I hate to say it but I really like his work. It’s beautiful. Does everything new really need to blend in with what has been there forever? Really? Why?

  • Out of context? This building is about one story higher than its neighbor. The design looks fine. You people need to get a life.

  • I don’t know if she still lives there (especially after this monstrosity began its marathon constructions process) but the clothing designer Daryl K used to own the brownstone next door. It is horrible, but the funny part is that it’s masquerading as the “Brooklyn Heights Luxury Condominium”. At least 200 Schermerhorn, also known as State Street Living, kind of fits into the neighborhood. (It kind of is a nice transition from the crapulence of Downtown Brooklyn and the beauty of State Street.)

  • i don’t mind the building either. for what it is, i think it’s quite nice.

    i love brownstones also, but completely disagree with the premise that everything built around it has to match it.

    this is a nice modern in-scale project.

    please go visit some of the other great architectural cities in the world for a little scope. they blend new with old and it’s beautiful.

  • I admit to liking some of Scarano’s designs, too. However, this one looks much worse in person than it does here in the picture. Perhaps once finished it won’t be so bad. From State Street, it does seem much larger than the other buildings on the block.

  • Really brownstoner, why so snide? I’ve seen worse around, that’s for sure. And exapanding landmarks boundaries would make building anything new and modern completely impossible.

  • I walk by this building regularly and the only thing I think is unfortunate is that the facade extends out further than the facade of the buiding next to it, and fucking up that poor person’s bay window, which now looks right into a wall on it’s right side. Otherwise it’s not bad looking and not too tall even.

  • One of the real problems with this is that it is both taller and deeper (even at the fourth floor level) than everything around.

    I am not opposed to non-trad design, but this looks like cheap cookie cutter “loft” studios. Also, if you go look at the rear yard, the fencing looks real cheap plastic board instead of wood.

  • I’d take this anyday over the dumpy garage that was there.
    I tend to like most of Scarano’s buildings. Including 360 Smith st. But do not think he should get away with loopholes in FAR etc. Definitely bends rules too much.

  • I have no problem with this building.
    Why is this Scarano hated so much?

    It isn’t possible to build buildings today, using 19th century construction methods. While Scarano is no Mies the body of work he has has brought to Brooklyn is far above the standard of most of the Fedders crap going up out there.

    Come on Bstoner. Just because its modern doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

  • If he worked for you 11:52 you would like the bending. We all like our accountants to find the grey area too. I get that it may not be technically “right” but it’s also not technically “wrong”

  • Looks like a great building. Please tone down on the rhetoric. Using phrases like f** you makes you look childish.

  • This web site has a grudge against this architect. The building looks fine. Why so rude?

  • This picture doesn’t do it justice. I live around the corner and I can tell you it looks seriously out of place on this street.

  • I don’t mind a mix of modern and 19th Century on a street but this building shouldn’t have been allowed to extend past the frontage of the one next door.
    In fact, for a better fit, this building should have had it’s front a bit recessed from the street. Otherwise, it’s not that unattractive.

  • $#%ing ugly and utterly out of context. Like everything this guy does. Why he still has a license is beyond me.

  • Truth is that the city needs to upzone a lot of the brownstone neighborhoods. Scarano’s innovative use of space and maximization of the development potential of each parcel of land allows more families to live in decent, clean housing, and not be overcrowded into small apartments. Because he uses high ceilings, families can put lofts in their bedrooms and get a lot of extra living space, which is important due to the very low FAR’s in brownstone brooklyn.

    Rowhouses are nice, but they aren’t the optimal way to use the space.

  • i walk by this place frequently and can confirm that it looks worse in person than in the photo, although it’s not all that bad. i am baffled, though, by the bizarre mini-patios that run down the center of the building. they look barely 2 feet wide and barely even a foot deep. plantholders with doors!

  • OMG, this is awful. It juts out from the block like its saying “me first!”
    UGH No architectural manners.
    If you want a modern building to blend in, even if it is a little taller than the neighbors, set it back behind an areaway like the older buildings. A little semi-public space first, then the facade. It is such a basic little thing to mainatain the street wall. Not doing so is very very bad IMMO.

  • Why are so many of you so concerned with Mass and scale and not quality? Quality of design and construction methods. Just let the developers who are risking their money to improve your neighborhood push the boundries of short sighted zoning laws and let them make a buck for the risk!

  • Scarano must have a whole crew of Pratt second rate interns repsonding to these posts about him. The problem with Scarano is not in his placing modern buildings next to brownstones, it is that he designs modern building really really bad. He uses cheap materials, off the shelf components, and mostly crews of migrant workers who only know how to build shanties out of CMU’s. Good modern design (Mies, Meier, Corb) requires a rigor and command of materials and connections put together by craftsmen. Scarano uses the same details over and over and these tend to be the least expensive way to achieve, for eaxmple, a floor to ceiling window or a monolithic surface finish.

  • I hope this block get’s what it REALLY needs.

    an olive garden.

    or at least a tgi friday’s

  • That’s it. Everyone here is crazy. I’m moving to Los Angeles.

  • You really can’t compare Scarano to Mies or Meier. Those guys do massive truly tremendous in design & scale projects.

  • JGNY – I don’t know how you can blame an architect for what kind of workers the developer uses. Yes, the architect specs the materials, but they are working under the direction of the developer and the developer can always sub cheaper materials. I do think scarrano buildings look cheap and ugly, but if anyone is to blame IT IS MORE THE DEVELOPERS, THAN THE ARCHITECT. And I know, I work for a developer. Guaranteed this developer went to scarrano and said, I want to max out FAR for the cheapest possible price I can skate by with to sell these things. I would bet the developer specifically dictated that the building be not set back to get every last inch out of zoning limitations. This is definitely a case of shooting the messenger.

  • Brooklyn is lucky to have Scarano. Really the only architect working in the Borough, Gehry and Meier one-offs notwithstanding.

    If only the rest of new buildings in NYC looked as good as this.

  • Give me a break brownstoner. The size is fine and some modern design makes the old buildings look that much nicer.

    Besides, look at that eyesore building to the left in the photo. This is hardly a trademark brownstone Brooklyn block anyway.

  • I do not know Mr. Scarano, but judging by his designs, he seems to have contempt for historic buildings. I think it goes beyond merely a lack of sensitivity.
    I sense hostility on the part of certain posters here as well. Hostility for older buildings, for the work of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, etc.
    Preservationists in Brooklyn should not be complacent. The battles are far from won.

  • Sorry, but Scarano buildings are some of the more attractive new buildings being built in Brooklyn. That might not be saying much but most new stuff being built around the borough (and even most of the renovations) is worse in terms of design and materials, and not just the Fedders things.

  • I don’t love the building, but it’s not too bad. I’ve seen much worse Scarano stuff on this site. A lot better than Boymelgreen’s buildings on Fourth Avenue, or the bunkers with the tiny windows and Fedders air conditioners. I like the wall of windows. I don’t get the vitriol either.

  • How does one comply with NY State Energy Conservation Construction Codes and still be able to use this much glass?

  • 12:32 — These are not apartments designed for families, and it’s a misrepresentation to describe them as such. If you want to claim that people will take whatever space they can and cram their families into it, that’s a different argument (wrong, IMO, but different). If we want new construction to provide 8 units for small families then we need to rethink present zoning laws (something that’s already been accomplished in the upzoning of large parts of Schermerhorn and Livingston in this immediate area).

    But condoning this method of arbitraging the difference between C of O requirements and zoning laws re square footage (and salso misrepresenting compliance with zoning laws, thus losing self-certification privileges) is not the way to do it.

  • sorry, but brownstones are really not that “historic.” 100 ish years old is not like forever.

    also, brownstones rarely offer a open light living space, and frankly are pretty ugly from the outside. vertical living is also not that much fun. running up and down a bunch of stairs when you have little ones is not great. if you have tons of money, then sure, you can gut and change your brownstone, but most don’t offer even central air which is pretty easy to get in new construction. i grew up in the ’60’s and ’70’s and shit, we had central air then. no way would i ever consider living anywhere that didn’t have central air.

    personally, almost always prefer the modern in general, and sure i’m not alone.

    re quality: it is correct to blame the developer, not the architect.

  • “sorry, but brownstones are really not that “historic.” 100 ish years old is not like forever. also, brownstones rarely offer a open light living space, and frankly are pretty ugly from the outside.”

    Then why are you posting on a site called “Brownstoner”?!! Bawk! Bawwwwk! BAWWWWK!

    Just figured I’d save someone else the trouble.

  • “personally, almost always prefer the modern in general, and sure I’m not alone”.
    Then what the heck are you doing read/posting on a blog about historic buildings in Brooklyn?

  • The downzoners hate modernity and density. What they will get if they have their way is more Fedders building the butt of so much derision on this blog. Just how loyal to the 19th Century asthetic do you have to be? My favorite buildings are “the Towers” on Hicks and in BH, is anyone building them today? And, if so, wouldn’t they be “out of scale”.

  • Not a Scarano fan but there is nothing wrong w/ this building. This wouldnt look out of place in Dwell or similar publication.

    New buildings that try to look old almost always look tacky imo.

  • There are two issues: this building and Scarano generally.

    The debate over whether Scarano is merely “bending” or creatively interpreting the zoning rules or doing something far more egregious is a tired one that has been played out on many sites. I would suggest next time someone wants to prolong what should be a settled debate in this area with a comment defending Scarano’s integrity, I suggest you please post along with your comments documentation of Scarano’s self-certification privileges. Oh wait . . .

    As for this building, it merits a debate without rehashing all the past stuff about Scarano. My view, I don’t like it, not because it’s modern, but because it breaks the building line in the front and overshadows its neighbor. If the building were set back with the others, that would solve part of the aesthetic problem. Beyond that, hard to tell how it will fit in because the facing isn’t on. Sometimes the juxtaposition works and sometimes not.

  • I think there is plenty wrong with this building. For one thing it does not line up with its neighbors, it plunks itself down, like a commercial building, right on the sidewalk with no seapartion between public and private space. Re-inforcing the commercial look are the windows which look like they are from the entrance to a shopping mall. The massing is hyper-kinetic. What’s with all those set backs and pop-ups? It looks to me like a some sort of sales pavilion that is trying to lure customers in to buy the latest appliance line or something.
    It has no attributes of a residential building which is one of the many reasons it looks so out of place on this residential street.
    So to sum up it is wrong in terms of its scale, its placement on the site, its massing and its fenestration. Other than that, it’s great. I hope the tenants enjoy the central air, because they are going to need a great deal of it all year round.

  • I wish Scarano would come rape Bushwick. There’s a lot right next to me, please, PLEASE come build something out of scale!

  • If y’all like this one so much, please walk over to 23rd St between 4th and 5th Aves. Almost identical design, different finishes.

    Brownstoner posted on it a few months back. Check the archives for 211 23rd St. Everyone had a field day on that property is well.

    Too bad it’s not sold out yet. That’s the funny thing about having your plans audited with potential revocation.

  • As we just noted on the Franklin Avenue thread, context is everything. In the right setting, we’d have no bone to pick with this building. But on this block, it’s completely offensive.

  • dont worry, it wont be out of scale much longer. That parking lot across the street is going to become a tower any day now.

  • i agree, the facade comes out too far, but yay for modern design. wait a minute; nobody asked for my opinion – i’m just throwing it out there all on the unsolicited tip. holy smokes! lady bird johnson died!

  • I think it looks pretty cool, at least on the pictures. Certainly better than the two buildings surrounding it.

  • I would rather have this building than the fedders abominations springing up near the clinton hill/bed stuy border.