Watchtower

Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Landscape Architecture

As the former Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters continues its transformation into a modern, five-building mixed-use complex in Brooklyn Heights, photos of the project’s first phase have been revealed. Designed by landscape architecture firm terrain, the former Watchtower complex, now known as Panorama, features three public gardens at grade level, as well as an architectural staircase. An open-air courtyard facing Furman Street will serve as a landscaped pocket park steps from the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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Brooklyn Heights

All photos by Will Femia

Last month, Columbia Heights Associates unveiled renderings for a new “Welcome” sign that would replace the iconic “Watchtower” sign atop the building at 25-30 Columbia Heights in Downtown Brooklyn. The Jehovah’s Witnesses had operated their world headquarters here since 1969 but sold the building complex for $340 million in 2016. The new owners are transforming the site into Panorama, a five-building office complex that will also have retail and outdoor space. Their new sign is reminiscent of its predecessor, with 15-foot-tall bright red letters. This Wednesday, it will be officially lit on the 50th anniversary of the first lighting of the “Watchtower” sign.

But it might not be there for long

Brooklyn Heights

Panorama Brooklyn, Watchtower, Brooklyn Heights, 30 Columbia Heights

Rendering courtesy of Columbia Heights Associates

The Brooklyn skyline will soon get a new sign to replace the iconic ‘Watchtower’ one that was put in place by the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1970 and removed in 2017. The 15-foot-tall red sign crowned the building at 25-30 Columbia Heights for nearly five decades while the Jehovah’s Witnesses owned the campus, which served as their headquarters. The new sign will read ‘Welcome’ in similar red lettering and will be installed before the end of the month, as first reported by the New York Post.

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Brooklyn Heights, Policy

Watchtower, Jehovah's Witnesses, 25-30 Columbia Heights

Via Wikimedia

The city’s Board of Standards and Appeals voted on Thursday to allow for a replacement of the iconic ‘Watchtower’ sign in Brooklyn Heights, which was taken down last December. The 15-foot-tall red sign had sat atop the building, which served as the headquarters for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, for nearly 50 years. The religious group sold the site at 25-30 Columbia Heights to the Columbia Heights Associates in 2016 and soon after the letters were removed, leaving its framework intact. While originally the Department of Buildings said the sign could not be replaced, the group of developers filed an appeal and won the right to put up new signage in the Brooklyn skyline, as the New York Post reported.

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Art, Brooklyn

A rendering of the proposed Brooklyn sign in place of the “Watchtower” sign. Image courtesy of Susanna Briselli.

“Brooklyn is a potent idea as well as a place,” according to Susanna Briselli, who explains in the Brooklyn Eagle that the borough’s name “summons vivid images and associations.” Briselli, who is an artist and photographer, suggests this potent chemistry is a compelling enough reason to create an enormous free-standing illuminated sign that reads “Brooklyn!” The massive work would be used to draw in more visitors and increase value, placed where the soon-to-be removed “Watchtower” sign in Brooklyn Heights now stands, or at another highly visible site such as Pier 7.

A sign of the times

Brooklyn Heights, New Developments

Watchtower, Jehovah's Witnesses, 25-30 Columbia Heights

For nearly 50 years, the neon red 15-foot-tall ‘Watchtower’ sign has sat atop the former headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses luminously overlooking Brooklyn Heights. However, earlier this month, the religious group filed a permit application seeking to remove the sign. According to The Real Deal, this comes almost a year after developers Kushner Companies, CIM Group and LIVWRK Holdings purchased the spot at 25-30 Columbia Heights for $340 million with plans to convert the building into a 635,000-square-foot office complex, “Panorama.”

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Architecture, Brooklyn Heights, New Developments

Panorama, Watchtower, Volley Studio

Last summer, developers CIM Group, Kushner Companies and LIVWRK acquired the Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower building at 25-30 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn Heights for $340 million. The building, known for its iconic red sign, served as the world headquarters of the religious group for years, but they’re relocating to Warwick, New York. Now, work has begun to turn its three 19th century brick and timber buildings into 635,000 square feet of office space, as well as 35,000 square feet of retail and outdoor areas, as Fast Company reports. The new space will be known as Panorama, for its stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge.

See renderings of the Panorama complex

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