After all these years of jokes about catching syphilis or turning into a green mutant alien, it’s hard to imagine the Gowanus Canal as a pollutant-free place, but beginning this year it will undergo dredging and sub-aquatic capping as part of the USEPA Superfund Cleanup plan. This also includes the Gowanus Canal Sponge Park, “an 18,000-square-foot public space that will be built with engineered soil to absorb (hence “sponge”) stormwater that would otherwise pollute the canal, as well as plants to break down toxins and floating wetlands,” as 6sqft previously reported.
But before the notoriously toxic canal turns into the Venice of Brooklyn, a group of microbiologists want to catalogue and draw attention to exactly what type of unseen organisms have accumulated over the past 150 years, as they feel it’s important for work at other polluted urban environments. To do this, they’ve created the BK BioReactor, a roving watercraft that takes samples from 14 specific points along the canal. This data has been turned into a “mobile library,” complete with an interactive map that shows which microorganisms are located where and how heavily distributed they are. For example, Atrazine, a herbicide affecting the hormonal system, is present in most of the sites, as is Epsilonproteobacteria, which inhabit the digestive tracks of animals.
See what else is lurking in the Gowanus Canal
Sometimes what you see is more than first meets the eye. That was definitely the case in the early ’90s when internationally exhibited artist Daniel Reynolds, known for his utterly mesmerizing life-sized “Drinking Birds” installation, purchased this 30-foot-by-90-foot mixed-use building on the south side of Union Street in Gowanus.
This listing, priced at $3.5 million, is unique in that its beautiful live and work spaces were designed with an artist’s vision, as well as in its creative pedigree and many possibilities for use. Included are three market-rate lofts, a roof deck and an artist’s workspace–an excellent investment on a prime Brooklyn block. Each loft offers unique hand-crafted marble baths, restored working fireplaces with stone mantles, stainless steel kitchens, and restored 19th-century tin detailing put to use in an unconventional yet breathtaking way.
Tour this fascinating custom-built creative space
363-365 Bond Street, via Lightstone Group
One of the Lightstone Group‘s two new rental buildings in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood is set to open Tuesday. The new residence at 365 Bond Street, along with its neighbor at 363 Bond (a year from completion) represent a $350 million effort by the developer to build 700 luxury rental apartments on the left bank of the Gowanus Canal. Designed to look like an historic brick-walled warehouse, market-rate apartments at 365 Bond start at over $2,000 a month for a studio and over $3,000 for a one-bedroom unit, according to the Wall Street Journal. Lightstone President Mitchell Hochberg says the project was inspired by the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood in Paris, known for a residential project near a similarly polluted waterway which helped create a “newly hip atmosphere.”
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The Gowanus Canal isn’t the first place that comes to mind when one thinks about lush waterfront parks, but that’s exactly the vision behind the long-planned Gowanus Canal Sponge Park, an 18,000-square-foot public space that will be built with engineered soil to absorb (hence “sponge”) stormwater that would otherwise pollute the canal, as well as plants to break down toxins and floating wetlands. It was first conceived back in 2008 by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and Susannah Drake, principal at the landscape architecture firm DLANDstudio (who’s also responsible for the Queensway).
Now, seven years later, DNAinfo reports that state officials announced on Tuesday that construction has officially commenced on the $1.5 million project at the notorious Superfund site. The park will sit on city-owned land at the point where Second Street dead-ends at the canal. Workers are on site, digging out five feet of contaminated soil that will be sent to a special facility that handles toxic materials; during the next 90 days, the metal walkway will be installed; and plants will arrive in the spring.
More on the park and the Gowanus Canal cleanup
Avery Hall Investments filed permits last week for an eight-story, 20-unit residential building at the corner of Third Avenue and St. Marks Place. The site is situated in the area where bucolic Boerum Hill meets the utilitarian factory lofts of Gowanus. The development at 125 Third Avenue will replace a one-story commercial building that Avery picked up earlier this year for $5.65 million according to city records. The team also recently broke ground on another Boerum Hill condominium at 472 Atlantic Avenue designed by the context-sensitive Morris Adjmi Architects.
More details on the project
During the mid-’90s and early 2000s, blobitecture was all the rage. But it didn’t take very long for the trend to fall out of favor—because at the end of the day you can’t really build a city full of blobby buildings. But it looks like the movement just might be seeing a second life within residential design. In this 2014 renovation by RAAD Studio, the architects transformed the innards of a historic brownstone on the border of Gowanus and Carroll Gardens into an ultra-modern space with clean lines, sleek surfaces, and most notably, an amoeba-like sculpture growing out of the living room wall.
Have a closer look inside the home here
If you’re one for Brooklyn’s more hidden gems, travel with us to Gowanus, where a fixer-upper at 162 10th Street was rescued by an architect who redesigned it for her family. The end result is a sophisticated interior with treasures at every turn. We’re talking tons of reclaimed materials and details that give this $1.195 million townhouse a built-in story hour.
More pics inside
Conversations about the Gowanus Canal are usually accompanied with a quip about STDs or mutant dolphins, but all joking aside, there’s no denying its murky waters also carry quite a bit of mystery and allure. The infrastructure, the architecture, and of course what’s floating within, is nothing short of intriguing, because really, what’s actually down there? Researchers at the Brooklyn Atlantis Project are just as curious as we are and they’ve constructed an unmanned water vehicle to go where no sane man dare go.
Find out more here
Another eye- and volume-popping mega-project by ODA Architects may be coming to Brooklyn, and this week’s chosen neighborhood is Gowanus. A recently posted video by ODA delves into the thought process of Eran Chen’s burgeoning firm and provides some shots of their recent work, including the provocative rendering shown here. We recognized the location only by the “Stop & Frisk Hands Off the Kids” text scrawled across the defunct Brooklyn Rapid Transit Powerhouse building (the “Bat Cave“) and pinpointed the project for the full-block parcel at 175-225 Third Street purchased by Kushner Companies and LIVWRK last year.
Update via LIVWRK/Kushner’s reps: “The developers are not working with ODA on this project and these designs do not represent our vision for this site or the Gowanus. We are committed to putting forth an outstanding plan that respects the context of the neighborhood and responds to the voices of local stakeholders.” As it turns out, ODA is one of many firms that pitched, and the design was ultimately turned down because it was out of touch with the direction of the neighborhood. Though it won’t come to fruition, it does give some scale of what’s to come—which will indeed be transformative for the area.
More information here
There’s a new rental available in up-and-coming Gowanus, and it’s asking $2,550 per month. This one-bedroom has a shared garden and laundry facilities along with a dizzying black-and-white checkered bathroom that will either make you fall in love or just get really disoriented. But even if that’s not your thing, charming original details like tin ceilings and wide-plank hardwood floors more than make up for it.
Check out the rest of the rental