A building as unusual as the man behind it is going up in Red Hook.
Located on what was formerly an empty lot at 202 Conover Street, a two-story art gallery with a bold, distinctive look is being developed by Dr. Michel Cohen, the founder of Tribeca Pediatrics. Brownstoner once characterized Tribeca Ped as a hit with the “Dan Zanes crowd,” but the popular children’s healthcare provider has grown far beyond its origins in recent years.
In addition to art exhibitions, the gallery space will also hold events and host music performances and film screenings, Cohen told Brownstoner. There will be a bar, and yakitori grilled food will be served.
“I have been coming to Red Hook forever,” he said. “I love the funkiness of the place, the open sky, the history, and how it looks onto New York, making it feel like another world.”
The Morrocan-born medical professional lives in Gowanus, owns the Boerum Hill sushi restaurant Taiki and runs a studio workshop in Ditmas Park that makes all the furniture for his different businesses. He is also an art connoisseur.
The design of the Red Hook gallery has an aquatic feel, with the roofline sloping up from the back and the sides of the building resembling fish scales. Openings along the side will provide natural light for the inside of the gallery, renderings show.
When Cohen purchased the land, he said, the initial idea was simply to construct an “interesting building.” He thought he might open another branch of Tribeca Pediatrics there. But he and the architect, Thomas Barry of Brooklyn-based OPerA Studio, decided on something a little different.
“We came up with a nautical concept for a two-story building consisting of seven sails,” Cohen told Brownstoner over email. “Beyond the aesthetic and the reference to the nautical history of Red Hook, those sails have been carefully oriented to divert the southern light entering in the building and fill it with beautiful constant daylight, which will enhance the arts and spirits.”
On the second floor, “the sails merge with a sawtooth roof with seven monitors and skylights that let in northern light with the same purpose,” he added.
The Red Hook gallery space will be called Project Genesis. “In the beginning, I had a dream to prefabricate the sails and assemble the building in seven days as a challenge,” he said. “I learned a good lesson as I am desperately trying to finish it a year later.”
Tribeca Ped’s 26 medical offices, which now include locations in Los Angeles as well as throughout Brooklyn, are known for their distinctive, playful and life-affirming design.
The firm is expanding to Bed Stuy and East New York, with locations set to open this year and early next year. Cohen bought a row house for the East New York outpost and will accept Medicaid through managed-care plans and reinvest profit in the local schools, he told Crain’s in 2018.
In what is still a relatively sleepy neighborhood, the new Red Hook gallery space will join other art-centric venues such as Pioneer Works and Red Hook Labs.
[Photos by Susan De Vries unless otherwise noted]
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