Brooklyn’s first skyscraper officially reaches full height

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Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNNBrooklyn, New York

Manhattan is no stranger to super-tall skyscrapers, but Brooklyn’s skyline has now changed dramatically as its first supertall reached its dizzying full height on Thursday.

The 93-story, 1,066-foot-tall residential building, located at 9 DeKalb Avenue in downtown Brooklyn, was designed by SHoP Architects. (Supertalls, by definition, are residential or office buildings up to 300 meters – 984 feet – or more.) Newly dubbed “The Brooklyn Tower,” it has been under construction since 2018 and cost a total of $ 750 million to develop. .

Today, the fluted black stainless steel, bronze and glass exterior of the skyscraper emerges from behind the neoclassical white marble facade of the famous 19th-century Dime Savings Bank. JDS Development Group, which led the project, bought the disused bank for $ 95 million in 2016; its complex interior is being restored and converted for commercial use, while the rooftop will accommodate residential amenities, including a swimming pool that extends around its dome.

“We want to (ed) do something that changes the skyline,” said Michael Stern, founder and CEO of JDS Development Group during a video call. But, he added, “it is not an easy task”.

“It’s the combination of a historic building and a contemporary tower, and (we had to) thread the needle on how to do it with respect and design integrity,” he explained.

A rendering of the Brooklyn Tower with the restored neoclassical Dime Savings Bank, which opened in 1857 but has been decommissioned since 2002. Credit: JDS Development Group

The site of the development is also irregular in shape, as the building rests on the majority of a triangular block. (JDS bought the neighboring 340 Flatbush Ave. for $ 43 million, but the 1950s Junior’s restaurant remains at one of the corners.) For this reason, the architects opted for a hexagonal rather than a rectangular plan.

“We looked at how the original architects handled the geometry of the site,” SHoP lead architect Gregg Pasquarelli said via video. “They used hexagons and six-sided stars… We liked the idea that nested hexagons would never make you feel like you’re not looking at the front of the building.”

A brief history of the tallest buildings in the world

A changing horizon

While 9 Dekalb may stand out for being the biggest recent arrival, it’s actually one of many new developments that are quickly transforming Brooklyn’s profile. Already New York’s most populous borough, Brooklyn has seen the best of its other four counterparts over the past decade, according to 2020 census data, with a 9.2% jump bringing the total population to 2 , 74 million. As New York City transplants and former Manhattan residents crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, developers followed suit, focusing on Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights as the next areas to expand the city’s skyline. The Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, built in 1929, had the distinction of being the tallest building in Brooklyn for 80 years, but since 2009 it has been ranked at the bottom of the top 10.

A view of skyscrapers under construction in Fort Greene Park.

A view of skyscrapers under construction in Fort Greene Park. Credit: Michael Toolan / JDS Development Group

But the construction of the Brooklyn Tower doesn’t necessarily mean more super towers will follow in the borough, according to Pasquarelli.

“We knew it would be Brooklyn’s tallest building – and probably will be for many decades,” he said. “There’s no other place, really, (where) you could build a building this tall.”

In Manhattan, however, it’s a different picture, with super-slim luxury buildings rising higher and higher, many of them concentrated in an area just below Central Park dubbed “Billionaire’s Row”. (JDS and SHoP have already designed one of these residential spaces at 111 West 57th Street.) Manhattan’s supertalls haven’t always made the headlines for the right reasons, from 432 Park Avenue, which a report says of the New York Times earlier this year, suffered from flooding, loud winds and electrical explosions, until the office tower sadly named PENN15 which is said to have become a point of contention between former Governor Andrew Cuomo and the outgoing mayor. Bill de Blasio.

Not your super big way

The Brooklyn Tower, however, is a rarity among residential supertalls, offering more than multi-million dollar apartments. In addition to 150 “rationally-sized” condominiums, as Stern describes them, there are also 400 rental units – 30% of which are designated as affordable housing under the Housing New York program.

“When you think of supertalls in New York City, you really think of Billionaire’s Row and apartments for the ultra-elite who may or may not live there,” Stern said. “(It’s) a real building that real people will live in and be … part of the fabric of the city.” He added: “It’s just basically a different typology.”

A rendering of the Brooklyn Tower.

A rendering of the Brooklyn Tower. “It’s just a fundamentally different typology,” developer Michael Stern said. Credit: JDS Development Group

Although new developments can often become a sore point – especially in a borough where gentrification has become a hot topic – 9 DeKalb received no reluctance from his local community council in 2016. The Land Use Committee of the council enthusiastically backed the proposal, according to the local newspaper, the Brooklyn Eagle, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission also quickly approved the project.

Erecting Brooklyn’s tallest building is certainly an attractive proposition for the developers and designers of the project, but Pasquarelli hopes the new addition to Brooklyn’s skyline will become a more significant symbol for the city.

“We talked a lot early on about what it means to put a super tall in Brooklyn,” he said. “Is this a territory reserved for Manhattan?” Are we bringing Manhattan to Brooklyn? No. Brooklyn is such an amazing, prosperous and culturally rich place. He should have his own tower. “


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