Dramatic Change of Plans for Adjmi’s Palace Rink Site on Grand Street in Williamsburg


Update: The rendering discussed in this post is an old design that will not be implemented, Morris Adjmi Architects let us know. The project “would not meet zoning requirements and is not being pursued.” Morris Adjmi Architects is in the process of redesigning the project. No renderings exist. The rendering previously posted on the construction site is also no longer current. Aldo Andreoli/AA Studio is no longer involved in the project.

A radical change is in the works for the building replacing Theobald Engelhardt’s 1885 Palace Rink at 89 Grand Street in Williamsburg. The design has been completely rethought, and renderings first published by NY YIMBY show a completely different building from the one posted on the construction fence. Also, now the project is technically an alteration, not a new building.

While the old rendering was fine, the new renderings show a much more innovative design that capitalizes on the existing building and the site’s history. A new steel and glass building appears to rise through the ruins of the previous structure.

This makes much more sense to us than completely demolishing Theobald Engelhardt’s attractive and historic building and replacing it with a completely new simulation of a generic historic Soho-style commercial building, which was the previous plan.

The building takes an interesting approach to adding new to old. Rather than simply plop a cube atop an older building or demolish it entirely, this new structure sprouts from within the older building. Instead of referencing the existing building with architectural forms, it simply leaves some of it in place while adding a completely modern steel and glass structure inside — very different and well-executed.

It’s this kind of blending of the old and the new that Brooklyn is becoming known for, as we see at many other projects, such as the Wythe Hotel, Empire Stores, and 10 Jay Street in Dumbo, where ODA is planning a sugar crystal-inspired facade for a landmarked warehouse.

But, there is a catch: When we last checked the site in January, the building had been almost completely demolished already. The facade of the old structure was gone and all that remained were some sections of the rear and side walls, as the photo below shows.

The new renderings don’t show the front of the building, except some arched windows. So whatever is planned, whether it’s intended to look original or not, the facade will be new. We hope the facade will not look like a new building is swallowing the old one — another new Brooklyn trend. (It’s one that seems to be driven by economics, not aesthetics, since it’s cheaper to alter a building than to put up a new one.)

To recap a bit of the history here:

In June of 2014, architect Morris Adjmi (who designed the Wythe Hotel conversion) of Morris Adjmi Architects submitted plans to construct a new five-story mixed-use building on the site. But those were disapproved. In November of that year, the firm submitted new plans, this time for a loft conversion that would leave more of the original building in place.

Those plans were just approved earlier this month though there is currently a stop work order on the site.

Meanwhile, the new renderings were executed by Aldo Andreoli of AA Studio, not Morris Adjmi Architects. The designer of the building is also Aldo Andreoli of AA Studio, according to NY YIMBY, although the applicant of record on the filing is still Morris Adjmi Architects.

The two architects used to be partners and have collaborated in the past on buildings, including 160 Imlay in Red Hook and 9 Townhouses of Cobble Hill.

The client appears to be an owner-occupant, and the building will not have a lot of units. It will have an art gallery on the ground floor, a duplex apartment on the second and third floors and two apartments on the fourth floor.

The building will be 59 feet tall and the residential units will take up about 4,800 square feet. What do you think of the design?

Revealed: Williamsburg Warehouse Conversion at 89 Grand Street [NYY]
Rendering Posted for Building to Replace Engelhardt’s Palace Rink on Grand Street [Brownstoner]
Renderings by AA Studio

89 Grand Street2

89 Grand Street3


Above, the rendering we found posted on the fence in January.


The construction site in January.


Above, a Google Maps photo of the site taken in September 2014 shows the facade of the building is completely gone. The red brick building with the braces at right is the building next door.


The building a year ago.

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