03/04/14 4:00pm

adaptive-reuse-030414A distinguished  panel of architects and designers will discuss the virtues and challenges of adaptive reuse at the Brooklyn Historical Society on Thursday, March 6.

Panelists include Morris Adjmi, architect of the Wythe Hotel; Joseph Vance of Joseph Vance Architecture; Daniella Romano, Vice President of Programs, Research, and Archive at Brooklyn Navy Yard’s BLDG 92; Bill Hilgendorf of Uhuru Design; and photographer and co-author of “Design Brooklyn” Michel Arnaud.

“Design Brooklyn” co-author Anne Hellman will moderate. A book signing and beer for sale will follow the discussion.

“Adaptive Reuse in Brooklyn: Buildings, Rooms, and Objects” takes place at 128 Pierrepont Street from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased here.

02/20/14 11:30am


Design Brooklyn brings us some fresh shots and commentary on Prospect Park’s beautiful new LeFrak Center at Lakeside.

In a section of Prospect Park called Lakeside — until recently the somewhat neglected site of the Wollman Rink — a crisply beautiful new building has taken its place within the landscape. Designed by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien in collaboration with the Prospect Park Alliance’s lead landscape architect Christian Zimmerman, the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center offers a year-round skating facility as well as a stunning example of how restoration can work hand-in-hand with modern design. (more…)

01/29/14 4:00pm

Jon Sherman of Flavor Paper, Stephanie and Pamela Katch of Katch ID, Leyden Lewis of Leyden Lewis Design Studio, and Jean and Oliver Pelle of Pelle Studio will discuss interior design, renovation, and object design at a panel in honor of the book Design Brooklyn at Book Court tomorrow night.

Author Anne Hellman will moderate, and Hellman and photographer Michael Arnaud will sign copies of their book.

If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of the award-winning volume, FYI it features tons of interiors that have not appeared elsewhere or in their column here on Brownstoner or on their blog. The event takes place at 7 pm tomorrow at Book Court at 163 Court Street in Cobble Hill.

12/02/13 11:30am


In preparation for its 150th anniversary, the Brooklyn Historical Society pursued a vision of bringing the interiors of its attractively preserved building on Pierrepont Street into the 21st century, while still respecting the past. Working with Christoff: Finio Architecture, BHS created an airy, high-tech event space, dynamic new galleries, a reconceived shop supporting Brooklyn makers, and classroom space for student and community activities. (more…)

11/18/13 11:30am


Editor’s note: We’ve covered BRIC House extensively, but this post has lots of new material on the architectural and design aspects of the development.

The Strand Theater had once been a grand Vaudeville theater among many show-business venues clustered around the intersection of Flatbush and Dekalb in Fort Greene. Built in 1918, the structure was in disrepair when the New York City Economic Development Corporation took control, leasing the building to two tenants: BRIC Arts|Media House, a nonprofit arts organization that produces and enables art and community media programs, and UrbanGlass, an artist-access glass center. Leeser Architecture was awarded a bid by the NYCEDC to transform the building into a functional facility for both entities while also giving them visibility from the street. (more…)

11/18/13 9:00am


Set to open soon at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park, the Sims Municipal Recycling Facility makes a case for the social and economic benefits of good design, wrote architectural critic Michael Kimmelman in The New York Times. Designed by the increasingly high profile Selldorf Architects, rather than some engineers as is often the case with municipal works, it will be open to the public for tours, provide jobs in the area, and save New York City some money on waste disposal.

As for the design, “the facility is understated, well proportioned and well planned — elegant, actually, and not just for a garbage site,” he said. “It is an ensemble of modernist boxes squeezing art, and even a little drama, from a relatively meager design budget.”

A gigantic solar roof — Sims says it’s the largest in New York City — will help power the complex. Click through to the New York Times for more photos or to Selldorf’s site for more renderings. What do you think of the design?

A Grace Note for a Gritty Business [NY Times]
Image by Selldorf Architects

11/07/13 11:30am

TEA Parlor Room

Ali Vanderpool and Ariana Villalta were working at a high end design firm in New York City when they decided to take the plunge and open their own residential interior design firm, The Elegant Abode, in 2011. They recently completed a revamp of a parlor floor in a Brooklyn brownstone.

The rooms were previously decorated in a very formal style with traditional fireplaces, red striped silk curtains, and a red Persian rug. The clients asked for a more relaxed and functional space where they could entertain guests and spend time together as a family — including their three girls and the family dog. The designers aimed to create elegant and sophisticated rooms that would also be practical and comfortable.

The designers updated everything, including the fireplaces, floors, millwork, lighting, window treatments and furniture. They chose a neutral palette (their signature), with accents of purple and green. Texture was incorporated in the jagged Mosaic Sentousai stone fireplace and nubby fabrics. They selected “modern, sleek and structured” furniture, including a Pucci bench and credenza from BDDW. The fireplace was designed to be the focus of the room, “without being fussy or formal.” (more…)

10/31/13 9:00am


Alexandros Washburn, the head urban designer for the New York City Department of City Planning, renovated his Red Hook row house with some innovations other city dwellers could make use of, including anti-flood devices. He kept the original staircase, but added an open, overhead flight of stairs to the top story that serves as a design element and lets in light from the roof, The New York Times reported in a profile of the house and its owners. The thick kitchen counters are made from joists salvaged during the renovation. Exposed brick and persian carpets, from his mother, who grew up in Istanbul, are strong design elements throughout the house.

“Mr. Washburn bought the three-story house in 2007, for $800,000, and spent another $500,000 renovating it,” said the Times. “Six years later, he is nearly finished, except for the ground floor, which was three feet deep in water during the hurricane.”

Right now, he and his family live on the upper floors, in case of flooding, but he would like to rent out the ground-level retail space. Toward that end, he is working on a system to keep water out of his house and his neighbor’s house during the next flood. If it works, hopes to get the DOB to approve it. (more…)

Breuckelen Berber 1

Handmade rug retailer Breuckelen Berber, located on the Columbia Street Waterfront, offers far more than an in-and-out shopping experience. Owners Nathan Ursch and Brin Reinhardt have created a space in which vintage Moroccan Berber carpets and other furnishings find a true home in a Brooklyn storefront. They had looked for a spot on Atlantic Avenue when expanding their business a year and a half ago, but Columbia Street was more affordable and, fortuitously, has since become a walking destination in its own right. (more…)

10/21/13 9:30am

The restored Lakeside Center in Prospect Park opened earlier this year, but two forthcoming indoor-outdoor skating rinks (which will double as a roller rink and children’s water park in summer) are still under construction. The New York Time’s architectural critic Michael Kimmelman toured the site, set to open in December, and found that the contemporary design by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien fits well into Olmstead and Vaux’s 19th-century pastoral masterpiece.

The two pavilions, totaling 30,000 square feet, are clad in rough green granite, and nestled unobtrusively into the hilly site. The underside of the canopy of the hockey rink is painted blue with silver curlicues like skate marks on the ice. The building defers to the “scenic beauty of the site,” and is green in other ways too, including a green roof and low energy consumption, according to the designers’ own website.

Here, the architecture and landscape conspire to direct views mostly inward, back onto the park in its diversity. During the 19th century, Olmstead and Vaux gave Brooklyn a verdant open space to escape the hurly-burly and enjoy the scenery. In the 20th century, Moses added roads and recreation, peace and quiet be damned. Lakeside updates recreation for a new century. But it also recovers the tranquillity and natural wonder that are the first glory of this urban masterpiece.

Click through to the jump to see a rendering of the building exterior via builder Sciame. (more…)

10/17/13 11:30am

Park Slope 1

In 2011, the owners of this South Slope property hired Leone Design Studio to convert the building, comprising three separate apartments, into a single-family home. Built in the early 1900s as an apartment complex, the structure never had a past life as a townhouse, and so displayed those characteristics one would expect: a large interior common stairway and no light penetrating from the back, only from a small skylight on the roof.

“It was dark in there,” said one owner, “and since our kids were one and three, they weren’t entitled to their own apartments yet. This was the principal reason for why the renovation was so extensive.

“These three-family houses were not the grand homes of upper-middle-class 1900s Brooklyn,” he continued. “They were built as functional housing for thrifty people who worked for a living, and who thus were not spending their discretionary income on frills. As a consequence, the house was notable not so much for its period wood paneling or molding, but for how solid it was.” (more…)

10/01/13 11:30am

Park Slope 10

An architect’s vision for an extension can come from a number of influences, as normally there is more room to play on the back of a townhouse than on its façade. For this turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts house in Park Slope, architect Eric Schiller took inspiration from canal houses in Amsterdam, where his family originated. With spacious, arched windows and skylights on the upper level of the addition and sliding-glass doors opening onto the garden, the duplex addition makes the most of its width, clad handsomely in red brick. (more…)