Building (North) Brooklyn

Tonight, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce will present its Building Brooklyn design awards for architectural merit. We here at brooklyn11211 will not be attending, in protest of the fact that not a single North Brooklyn project has been honored this year (as far as we can tell, only one North Brooklyn project was even nominated).
This is very surprising, when you consider the fact that on a per capita basis, North Brooklyn probably has more construction going on than any other part of NYC. Its even more surprising when you consider the fact that so much of that construction is of such high quality. In fact, the Pritzker folks are probably spending most of their time in North Brooklyn these days.
So rather than waste $150 attending an awards show that snubs our fair district, we have decided instead to put together our own list of the great architecture of North Brooklyn, which we will unveil here over the coming days (and we will gladly accept nominations – please email us at 11211[at]brooklyn11211[dot]com). For the most part, these are all projects that have been completed over the past year or so. But since its our award, and we make up the rules, we reserve the right to highlight older projects that clearly stand head and shoulders above their peers.
So without further ado, our first award, in the category of Lost Opportunities, goes to the Toll Brothers development, North 8 Condos.

Photo: conbon33.

Yes, “Williamsburg is all grown up”, but the buildings are still ugly. And what better place to put an ugly, squat, black-brick building than on North 8th and Kent, where it will forever face out onto public parkland. Think of all the grand design gestures that could have graced this site – a modern-day Central Park West, perhaps? Or maybe this is more of a 21st-century Gramercy Park? NO – on what might be the most prominent upland waterfront site in all of rezoned Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Toll Brothers has opted for Marx-Engels-Platz.1 instead – a building so disappointing that even the developer won’t put a picture of it on their website (or if they do have a picture of it, its pretty well hidden).
So while residents of North 8 Condos revel in their park and river views, the rest of us are forced to wallow in banality. Yes, this dark, brooding presence on the Williamsburg waterfront is there for the long haul, so get used to the asymmetrical fenestration, and the nouveau-factory aesthetic (try this: see if your friends can pick out the luxury condominium from the surrounding factories). Amazingly, this building is more boring than most of the surrounding industrial buildings.
1. OK, that statement is really insulting to East German architecture – the Palace of the Republic had a lot more going for it than this building. I doubt there will be much discussion when this baby comes down.[back]