green-wood cemetery front gates

We’ve noticed the Landmarks Preservation Commission has been moving quickly through the proposed landmarks it wants to designate, and is also now putting presentations with renderings and photographs of historic sites online for all to see, as it did with the proposal for the Brooklyn Heights Cinema Building, approved this week.

Things are changing under the LPC’s new chair, appointed under de Blasio, and lately the most visible changes seem to be for the better. Meenakshi Srinivasan is an architect, but not a preservationist, so local preservationists weren’t sure what to expect. Her first big move as chair — to dump a backlog of about 100 sites without individual public hearings — caused a great outcry, as we reported in a series of articles at the time, and the LPC backed off. (more…)

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The Landmarks Preservation Commission is moving quickly through its Brooklyn backlog. In a highly anticipated vote yesterday, the LPC approved a design for a long-in-the-works proposal to convert the Brooklyn Heights Cinema building at 70 Henry Street into condos. It also designated the M.H. Renken Dairy building on Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill, also in the works for years, and the Henry and Susan McDonald House in Wallabout.

The plan to add a three-story condo building on top of the existing building at 70 Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights comes after similar plans for the building were rejected twice before by the commission. This design by Morris Adjmi Architects (designer of the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg) creates a 50 foot tall building — the maximum allowed on that site. (more…)

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Dixon is renovating a landmarked mid-19th-century wood frame house at 266 Clermont Avenue in Fort Greene and is restoring the outside per the LPC requirements, as we saw when we happened by recently. When it is done, it will look similar to the twin house next door.

Dixon is restoring the two full-length windows on the parlor floor and putting in a new front door. It will also add back a missing cornice, according to the rendering posted on the construction fence, and install new two-over-two windows. (more…)

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The Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote on designating the proposed Bedford Historic District in the next year. The date has not yet been set, but the vote will take place in fiscal year 2016, which starts in July, the head of Community Board 3’s landmarking subcommittee told the assembled crowd at the monthly Community Board 3 meeting Monday night.

The hearing took place in October 2012, and neighborhood activists and preservationists have been waiting for a decision. The proposed district has been in the works for many years, and we have covered the effort extensively. (more…)

5.22.15 (8:00PM) Enjoy your weekend

A photo posted by @dominosugarfactory on

We’ve been following the Instagram account of Dominosugarfactory, an “eternal time lapse” of the iconic Williamsburg building, now part of the massive Two Trees redevelopment project. Later additions to the 1880s factory, technically three buildings located at 292-314 Kent Avenue, have been stripped away, and it will become office space.

So far, there are 196 photos here, some taken by day, some by night — all from the exact same location. The photos go back to January 2013 and show the complex as it looked before demolition started in October 2013, through demolition, and today.

Domino Sugar Factory Eternal Time Lapse [Dominosugarfactory]
Domino Coverage [Brownstoner]
First rendering by SHoP; second rendering by Beyer Blinder Belle

4.1.15 (7:03AM)

A photo posted by @dominosugarfactory on

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Fifty years ago last month the city passed the Landmarks Law — and if it hadn’t we’d be living in a very different place today.

That’s the premise behind “Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks,” an exhibition currently running at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit, which opened last month, looks at the growth of the preservation movement, the roots of the pioneering law, its evolution and its impact on the city.

There’s plenty there relating to Brooklyn, including a section on the role of Brooklyn Heights in creating the law. (more…)

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The two landmarked and formerly crumbling twin houses at 578 and 580 Carlton Avenue in Prospect Heights have come a long way since we last checked in February. The house on the left, No. 580, now has a fully rebuilt cornice. Meanwhile, No. 578, on the right, is being wrapped in insulation prior to getting a new facade. (more…)

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Dixon is shopping around its landmarked Bed Stuy apartment building at 75 MacDonough Street, hoping to get more than $4,000,0000 for it, a few different sources have let us know. Meanwhile, passerby have noticed signs on the top floor protesting conditions in the building, and one reader sent in the photos above and below. (Scaffolding has gone up on parts of the building since these photos were taken.)

Dixon is trying to see if it can get a good offer for the building, given the hot market, Alan Dixon, Managing Director and CEO of Dixon Advisory USA, told us. (more…)

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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…)

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We were excited to see the long-crumbling porch on one of Stuy Heights’ most important houses is getting a redo when we passed by recently. The landmarked house at 339 MacDonough Street stands out in many ways.

It is one of three big, standalone wood-frame houses on huge lots on the block — a rarity in these parts, although not on this special block. (more…)

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Wood and brick Federal-style homes were among the first to be built in Brooklyn Heights, beginning in the 1820s. The oldest houses in the Heights still standing today were built in this decade.

The longest standing Brooklyn Heights houses reside on Willow, Hicks and Middagh streets. One of these is 84 Willow Street, which was listed in the first city directory of 1822, indicating that it is at least that old. A house at 68 Hicks Street was also listed in the 1822 directory.

In 1824, three more houses were built that are still standing today. These are 43 Willow Street, 30 Middagh Street and  24 Middagh Street. Conveniently, a plaque on 30 Middagh Street’s façade displays its year of construction. (more…)