The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce last week announced the winners of its 2015 Building Brooklyn Awards. The annual event honors recently completed construction projects that improve Brooklyn in 13 categories.

“The borough of Brooklyn is truly an innovation hub, where builders and designers can put their craft to use and enhance the city that surrounds them,” said Chamber President and CEO Carlo Scissura in a prepared statement. “These projects represent the creative influence and inventive culture that inhabit our borough.”

The judging committee includes architects, city planners, economic development experts, business leaders — including Brownstoner’s publisher, Kael Goodman – and government officials. It meets every spring to select the winners.

A celebration and ceremony will take place July 21 at the Kings Theatre. Guests of honor will be CEO of Industry City Andrew Kimball and NYC Department of City Planning Executive Director Purnima Kapur.

The winners are:

Green-Wood Cemetery won in the Arts and Culture category for its Green-Wood Cemetery Chapel Extension.

Brookland Captial won in the Adaptive Reuse catogory for its renovation and restoration of 156 Broadway. The long-neglected and crumbling former cabinet factory was made over into eight loft-like condos. The exterior of the building was restored on the upper floors, and a new retail space created on the ground floor. You can read more about it here. (more…)

WELCOME TO THE INSIDER, Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design or renovation project, written and produced by journalist/blogger Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday at 11 am.

rustic-modern row house

SOMETIMES A GUT JOB is the only answer, as was the case with this 15-by-44-foot four-story row house in Bed Stuy. It had been ripped apart by a developer and then abandoned during the recession, even becoming home to squatters for a time.

“It was a total wreck. There was nothing at all worth saving,” says Gitta Robinson of Brooklyn-based Robinson + Grisaru Architecture, the firm hired by new owners to transform a shell into a home.

Brick party walls and wood joists were practically all that remained. At least the joists were in decent shape.

The architects decided to keep them uncovered on the two lower floors, to add ceiling height, and painted them white. Exposed brick was likewise kept exposed.

“There was a debate on whether it would stay natural or be painted white,” Robinson recalls. Natural won.

Where a chimney breast was removed in the dining area at the rear of the parlor floor, above, the void was patched in with mortar. The homeowners — he is a graphic designer and she a landscape designer — loved the effect and kept it, even matching the mortar treatment on the rear wall of the parlor floor.

In a bold design stroke, the architects removed 2.5 feet of flooring at the rear of the parlor level, creating an open two-story slot that connects the garden and parlor floor acoustically and lets in extra light. Ideally, the architects and homeowners would have liked to replace the whole back wall on the two lower stories with glass, but a tight budget prevented it. (more…)


Finally: Renderings for the retail development under construction at the former Salvation Army site at the corner of Bedford and North 7th Street has been posted on the fence. The high-profile retail development site, on what is arguably the most trafficked corner in red-hot Williamsburg, has been under construction for years. The store closed in 2012.

The design is traditional with patterned brick in pale colors and large multi-paned windows. The top of the building looks like it could have been built in the 1940s or so. It should fit in very well with the mix of old residential and industrial buildings in the area, we think. (more…)

550 4th avenue

Brookland Capital, which has made a name for itself by developing a remarkable number of condos in Bed Stuy, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights and even in East Flatbush, has unveiled a new building in a bit of a more expensive neighborhood: the Gowanus side of 4th Avenue.

The rendering, which was first published by New York YIMBY, shows a glassy 11-story tower. Many units have terraces and there is a penthouse unit set back at the top.

When complete, the building will be 31,859 square feet and will have 30 apartments, according to plans submitted in December and yet to be approved. (The developer told NYY it will have 38 units.)

There will be a gym and a common terrace on the second floor. At street level, the building will have a 5,000 square foot retail space divided into two units — much preferable to a blank wall for parking, we think. The building was designed by architecture firm RoArt. (more…)


New York YIMBY has published renderings for an impressive-looking new mixed-use building at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Designed by S9/Perkins Eastman and intended to house WeLive/WeWork housing and workspace, it’s a prototype, we’re guessing, not an actual project.

The city-owned Navy Yard, managed by a nonprofit corporation, is zoned for industrial and commercial use. WeWork was talking to the Navy Yard about leasing 500,000 square feet of office space in 2013, but the lack of transportation was a stumbling block and as far as we know nothing came of it.

Click through to see more renderings. What do you think of the idea of building housing in the Navy Yard and this particular design?

First Look: WeWork/WeLive’s New Building at the Brooklyn Navy Yard [NYY]
Renderings by S9/Perkins Eastman

Update: A Navy Yard spokesperson called to say there is no plan to add housing in the Navy Yard. She emailed this statement: The Brooklyn Navy Yard continues to be a driver of economic opportunity and is focused on capturing and nurturing growth industries that are fueling the City’s resurgence. While the Yard is undergoing the largest expansion at any time since World War II, it remains true to its core mission and therefore there will not be residential development within the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We won’t offer any other comment on any potential development.



Aufgang Architects is known for its adaptive reuse of landmark buildings as well as affordable housing (the latter is 40 percent of its practice). The firm is based in Suffern, N.Y., and works primarily in New York City. Aufgang Architects is converting the landmarked former Brillo factory at 200 Water Street in Dumbo into 15 luxury condos and, as part of the same project, is designing a new 12-story, 105-unit mixed-use rental building on the same lot at 181 Front Street. (Renderings for the two buildings are pictured above and below.) We spoke to principal Ariel Aufgang about adapting historic properties for contemporary use and the firm’s projects in Brooklyn.

Brownstoner: How do you approach adaptive reuse?

Ariel Aufgang: We ask how can we adapt a building to enhance the occupants’ experience of it, whether it’s a condo, hotel or office space. As architects, we’re very cognizant of the effect the building environment has on people’s daily lives. Also, the mix of historic character and modern amenities has a positive impact on commercial value.

BS: Tell us a little bit about your design for the former Brillo Manufacturing Co.’s 1950 “daylight factory” in Dumbo. 

AA: The former Brillo Factory building, 200 Water Street, is on a great block with a cobblestone street. As a purpose-built factory structure, its window sill heights are different on almost every floor to accommodate different size manufacturing equipment. One window sill is at five feet, and others at eight feet. As a landmarked building, the challenge was to find a way to convert the building to multi-unit residential while keeping the design. Our design involves removing 30 feet off the back of the building, which brings more daylight into the apartments. The original rear facade was painted concrete block with steel flashing on each floor plate. It wasn’t an esthetically conceived or pleasing design, just utilitarian. So we specified a precast concrete wall in a modular pattern that emulates the concrete blocks. The precast concrete wall gives the texture and feeling of the old concrete block wall, but in a fine finish with a smooth texture. In place of the original and unattractive steel flashing we changed the coursing size to a thinner piece, to indicate something was there. We added back the square footage we removed with a roof top addition. It’s a four-story building. Also, we aligned the new elements with the old features, literally and figuratively. For example, we designed an all-glass extension, about three feet out from the wall, which is pushed back from the street.

BS: What were some of the goals and challenges with this project? (more…)

221 kingston avenue

Brownstoner’s own award-winning columnist Suzanne Spellen will be leading a tour of Crown Heights on Saturday, May 9. Spellen, who writes as Montrose Morris, and preservationist and real estate agent Morgan Munsey, will guide participants through the northeastern portion of the neighborhood, including many blocks in the recently designated Crown Heights North III Historic District.

The area is home to late 19th and early 20th century row houses, historic churches and the oldest standing house in Crown Heights North. The pair will also take participants to see the historic Kinko Houses and two “Superblocks” — attempts at urban renewal designed by I.M. Pei. (more…)

1809 Emmons Avenue1

Renderings released Tuesday by Rybak Development at a Community Board 15 meeting show the developer is planning an ambitious mall with condos above as well as a large public plaza in Sheepshead Bay.

The glass-fronted retail space is broken up with zig zagging and horizontal concrete divisions, and the whole thing comes to nearly a point at one corner, like the prow of a ship. (Perhaps the marine look is a reference to the nearby waterfront area.) The architect of 1809 Emmons Avenue is Brooklyn-based Zproekt.

The renderings were first published by Sheepshead Bites. The developer plans eight stories with 50 to 60 condos. Rybak will need a zoning variance to build that many apartments, which is where the big public plaza comes in. (more…)

Sidney place carriage house

On Friday May 1, the Municipal Art Society is hosting its second walking tour of Brooklyn Heights. This one, which begins at 2 pm, will focus on the blocks south of Montague Street.

Architectural historian Matt Postal will discuss the Greek and Gothic revival row houses here as well a number of historic churches. The walk will include architect A. T. White’s Riverside, an  influential attempt to create affordable housing.  (more…)


Another large, modern-style apartment building is in the works on Tompkins Avenue in Bed Stuy. We wrote about this one, at the corner of Lexington Avenue at 281-291 Tompkins Avenue, back in November, and now there are more details and a rendering, first reported on by The Bed Stuy Blog.

It will be 45 feet tall and have 31 apartments when complete. Though there is no sign of the existing five low rise commercial brick buildings in the rendering, this project is actually an expansion of the existing buildings. According to permits, the developer, The Iconic Group, will combine five existing two story buildings into a single building and then add on top of it to create the structure in the rendering above.

The rendering shows a large, box-y building in brick and stucco. The different materials break up the building into smaller sections and make it seem less monolithic. The building varies in height from three to more than six stories, according to the rendering. (more…)


We found three previously unpublished renderings of the huge Chetrit hotel-apartment-retail complex going up at 500 Metropolitan. They reveal the complex has a name: The M500. Sounds like something out of a Bond film. Should go well with the smoldering interior renderings interior designers Raad Studio released earlier this year.

The new renderings are at least the fourth set from as many architects. Kutnicki Bernstein has stuck with the basic concept — a wedge-shaped complex — and given it more definition.  (more…)


More units at Two Trees’ rental building at 60 Water Street in Dumbo are hitting the market this week. We toured the glassy building Friday and got an eyeful of its incredible views of the Brooklyn Bridge as well as a look at the garden being built on the roof, above, and one of the new units.

Click through for a new rendering of the garden and its water feature. The unit we toured is a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment on the 16th floor.

Coming this week are studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms on the 16th, 17th and 18th floors. Also, there is a deal: Two months’ rent will be free the first year. (more…)