Rendering courtesy of SCAPE Landscape Architecture
The Gowanus Canal Conservancy (GCC) has announced the launch of Gowanus Lowlands, a new comprehensive vision for the transformation of Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood and a ‘blueprint for NYC’s next great park.’ As 6sqft has previously reported, between developers eyeing the pricey parcel of southwest Brooklyn land as Paris on the Gowanus and the city’s ambitions to transform the long-embattled area into “Little Venice,” all eyes have been on the neighborhood and the once-toxic, steadily improving Superfund canal that anchors it. With an important rezoning on the horizon–the process kicked off last October with meetings to gauge community opinion–passions are running high. The conservancy has identified SCAPE landscape architecture studio to guide the Lowlands vision toward reality.
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In October 6sqft reported that work on Thor Equities‘ 7.7-acre waterfront office and retail complex, architect Norman Foster‘s first Brooklyn commission, had begun. A recent meeting between the developers’ representatives and community members to discuss plans for the 818,000-square-foot two-building project on the former site of Red Hook’s Revere Sugar Refinery–known as Red Hoek Point–revealed concerns that the Red Hook community is being excluded from development plans.
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After revealing plans in June for Norman Foster‘s first commission in Brooklyn, Thor Equities now announces that work has commenced on Red Hoek Point, the 7.7-acre waterfront office campus. The press release also brings news that the project’s two buildings, totaling 818,000 square feet, will become “the largest new heavy timber structure in North America.”
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In June, 6sqft revealed renderings of Norman Foster‘s first commission in Brooklyn, the waterfront complex from Thor Equities planned for the former Revere Sugar Factory site in Red Hook. The sole rendering showed “his signature mix of contemporary panache (glassy construction with a cantilevering portion) and contextual thoughtfulness (low-scale, boxy structures in keeping with the industrial area).”
Now, a second rendering comes to us via Curbed, which shows off the structure’s “undulating penthouses and combined 3.6 acres of green roof.” They’ve also noted that the project has an official website, leasing is underway, and it’s been dubbed Red Hoek Point, a play on the area’s Dutch name Roode Hoek from the 1600s.
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Back in 2005, the Joesph Sitt-led Thor Equities spent $40 million on a vacant, 7.7-acre parcel of land in Red Hook that juts 700 feet into the Erie Basin, between the Ikea parking lot and the Fairway. Preliminary visions for the former Revere Sugar Factory site included retail, office space, and residential buildings, but according to a press release sent out today by Thor, there will be no housing.
Today’s major announcement, however, is the architect selection: Norman Foster will helm the design of the new waterfront office complex, which will “include two heavy timber frame buildings totaling more than 600,000 square feet of creative office space, and 23,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.” Foster is a surprising choice for the project, as his commissions are typically flashy and in high-profile areas like Midtown or the Financial District. In fact, this will be his first building in Brooklyn. But the sole rendering shows his signature mix of contemporary panache (glassy construction with a cantilevering portion) and contextual thoughtfulness (low-scale, boxy structures in keeping with the industrial area).
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There’s a new tallest tower taking over the Lower East Side, and unsurprisingly it comes to us via the supertall super-team of JDS Development and SHoP Architects, the same duo responsible for the 1,438-foot-tall 111 West 57th Street and 9 DeKalb Avenue, Brooklyn’s first 1,000+ foot tower. Their latest record-setter is a 900-foot, 77-story rental building planned for 247 Cherry Street, reports The Lo-Down. It will rise directly next to Extell’s One Manhattan Square, which made waves for its 850-foot height in the low-scale Two Bridges area.
The newest tallest tower between Midtown and Downtown will have a 10,000-square-foot retail base with 600 rental apartments above, about 150 of which will be made permanently affordable. Though the design isn’t finalized, SHoP says it will likely be terracotta brick and glass and feature outdoor terraces in the middle. There will also be a top-floor amenity space for all residents, and SCAPE Landscape Architecture has been tapped to create a publicly accessible plaza surrounding the structure.
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Ruffle Bar via Frogma
Today, when most New Yorkers think of oysters it has to do with the latest happy hour offering the underwater delicacies for $1, but back in the 19th century oysters were big business in New York City, as residents ate about a million a year. In fact, oyster reefs once covered more than 220,000 acres of the Hudson River estuary and it was estimated that the New York Harbor was home to half of the world’s oysters. Not only were they tasty treats, but they filtered water and provided shelter for other marine species. They were sold from street carts as well as restaurants, and even the poorest New Yorkers enjoyed them regularly.
Though we know the shores of Manhattan, especially along today’s Meatpacking District and in the Financial District near aptly named Pearl Street, were chock full of oysters, there were also a couple of islands that played a part in New York’s oyster culture, namely Ruffle Bar, a sandbar in Jamaica Bay, and Robbins Reef, a reef off Staten Island marked with a lighthouse.
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Image courtesy of SCAPE / LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE PLLC
We know what you’re thinking: what is oyster-tecture, anyway? Just ask Kate Orff, landscape architect and the founding principal of SCAPE Studio. SCAPE is a landscape architecture and urban design office based in Manhattan and specializing in urban ecology, site design, and strategic planning. Kate is also an associate professor of architecture and urban design at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she founded the Urban Landscape Lab, which is dedicated to affecting positive social and ecological change in the joint built-natural environment.
But the Living Breakwaters project may be the SCAPE team’s most impactful yet. The “Oyster-tecture” concept was developed as part of the MoMA Rising Currents Exhibition in 2010, with the idea of an oyster hatchery/eco-park in the Gowanus interior that would eventually generate a wave-attenuating reef in the Gowanus Bay. Describing the project as, “a process for generating new cultural and environmental narratives,” Kate envisioned a new “reef culture” functioning both as ecological sanctuary and public recreation space.
Find out more about what oysters and other creatures can do for NYC