Williamsburg

The Williamsburg Wall

Thoughts on Urban Densification and the changing structure of New York’s waterfront:

The New York waterfront has seen a proliferation of “Urban Wall” buildings cropping up along it’s shores; Most notably in the Williamsburg area of the City. With changes in Zoning and a push toward affordable housing, there is nowhere to go but up. And the permanence of these changes will be amplified by the design (or lack thereof) of this New Urban Wall. Here is a rundown of the major developments impacting Williamsburg:

ODA_Spitzer

(416-420 Kent Avenue by ODA Architects)

416-420 Kent, just to the South of the Williamsburg Bridge, is one of the more daring developments to take shape on the Urban Waterfront, This series of towers, developed by Eliot Spitzer and ODA Architects, takes the conventional tower form and “cracks” it into pieces, as is the trend in tower design (see prior post) these days. A reference point for this trend can be found across the River at Herzog and DeMueron’s Jenga Tower which has topped out in Lower Manhattan. Foundation work on this project has started.

Domino Sugar

(Domino Sugar Redevelopment, Image by SHoP Architects)

The Domino Sugar Development, brought to fruition by Two Trees Development, was controversial from the outset because of its site. In essence, this development embodies “New” New York taking over the old, as many of the Domino Sugar buildings were town down to make way for these mega towers. The design mixes residential with greenspace, as well as offices in the old Domino Building, which is the one building still standing on the site (with smokestack). The refurbishment of this structure seems in the vain of the Tate gallery in London, with a new glass bar erected on top of the old industrial hulk of industry gone by. Construction on this project has started.

Greenpoint Landing

(The Glassification of Greenpoint Landing, Rendering by Handel Architects)

And further up The River, Greenpoint Landing, a massive development at the northern tip of this industrial area, is reshaping the Urban Edge and in many ways, will sanitize a once gritty maritime waterway. A continuation of The Urban Wall against The River as New York’s transformation (and Gentrification forces) continue unabated.

 

The Anonymous Building

2-North-6th-Place

(The Anonymous Building, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Rendering via J&A Concrete. 2015)

The Anonymous Building rises on the Brooklyn waterfront. Modernization and Development with no context to Place. New York, New York. Anywhere, USA.

The Gentrification movement has had its grip on large swaths of The City, most notably now, in Williamsburg, where local offender “The Egde” condominium continues to sprout glass boxes without a connection to surroundings. Only views to the outside skyline can be had for a price of admission, and a token concession of affordable units allocated to those lucky enough to win the lottery.

The Anonymous Building has crept into our public consciousness as an Architecture which lacks any clear distinction, or personality; In many respects, an architecture of reluctance. Though a lack of assertion is not always a bad thing. There are countless ways a responsible “background” building can stand its ground as a contributor to its surroundings, usually with thought and connectivity to landscape.

The Anonymous Building, in its desire to be nothing in particular, has become an agent of compromise in our expanding New York. Sheer scale and demand have outpaced the ability (or desire) for meaningful Design to adapt to our rapidly changing Urban Context. So much so, that the solution has become an Architecture that disappears from memory. The Anonymous Building, Anywhere, USA.

More info on The Anonymous Building can be found HERE:

Third Edge Tower, Now Rising. From Curbed

40 Story, 554 Residential Unit Tower Rising. From YIMBY

 

Domino Sugar, Down

Domino Demolition

(Domino Sugar, Williamsburg, New York. Photo by Greg Gordon Canaras. April 2014)

The transformation of a building site is raw and beautiful, from a perspective of mass demolition leading to renewal. In this pictorial shot, large swaths of the Domino Sugar Factory are being torn down for a new wave of Waterfront Towers. Urban demolition, excavation and rebirth are part of a constantly evolving process that The City undertakes in order to remake itself and adapt to change. This process oftentimes undercovers the layers of a place, frozen in time. The next day, it may all be gone.

Location of this Urban Transformation site can be found HERE, in Williamsburg, New York.