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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…)

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Another revamped retail space in a landmarked building in Stuy Heights is ready for a tenant. The second retail space at 616 Halsey Street, in the rear of the building at the corner of Malcolm X, had been closed up for decades.

Developer Weissman Equities opened it up again and renovated the interior and exterior, with Landmarks approval. The liquor store on the corner is staying, and the vintage-style exterior lights outside the apartment entrance are new. (more…)

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Brooklyn City Council members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin have joined with the Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and one other City Council member in sponsoring a bill that would speed the landmark review process. The process would move online with a public database showing all actions taken by the Landmark Preservation Commission and the ability to submit applications for landmarks online, according to a story in The Real Deal.

The bill would also require the LPC to respond more quickly, with a 90-day limit for feedback on applications for individual landmarks and 180 days for proposed historic districts. “Unresolved” cases would have to be jettisoned after five years. (more…)

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Big news: The original cement facade of the Coignet Building, not been seen in decades, is now visible at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street. The uppermost story of netting that has shrouded the landmark at 360 3rd Avenue in Gowanus for about a year as it undergoes restoration came down sometime in the last few days. We snapped these photos yesterday as we were passing through the area.

The red brick veneer applied sometime in the mid-20th century has been removed, per the restoration plans. It looks to us as though the restorers are planning to add a top coat of cement to finish and seal the exterior. Perhaps this explains why some of the netting has been removed.

The historic restoration of this landmark is certainly not finished, as more photos below reveal. The front stoop has greatly deteriorated in the last year, since the scaffolding went up — perhaps a result of this unusually snowy winter.

Whole Foods, which is handling the restoration as part of a deal to build its adjacent store, is also stabilizing the interior. Click through to see behind the fence.

Coignet Building Coverage [Brownstoner]

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Whole Foods’ restoration of the crumbling landmark next door known as the Coignet Building is well under way, although almost nothing can be discerned under the netting. When we stopped by 360 3rd Avenue in Gowanus last year, we could see that almost all of the red brick facade — not original to the building and not staying — had been removed, save a small strip or so.

When we stopped by again Thursday, we found this rendering posted on the fence. A little bit of the exterior was also visible through a gap in the netting.

Whole Foods got going on the project after being fined twice by Landmarks twice for failure to maintain the structure, which was one of the first all-concrete buildings in the U.S. Click through to see the construction project shrouded in netting.

Coignet Building Coverage [Brownstoner]

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The long-empty and neglected Ridgewood Masonic Temple — it’s on Bushwick Avenue in Bushwick, despite the name — is going to become apartments. In January, the developer filed plans for an addition and conversion to 28 apartments at at 1054 Bushwick Avenue, The Brooklyn Eagle reported. Nataliya Donskoy of ND Architecture and Design is the architect of record. (more…)