View Full Version : Proposed - Brooklyn Library for the Visual and Performing Arts - by TEN Arquitectos

January 19th, 2003, 05:51 AM
January 19, 2003

A See-Through Library of Shifting Shapes and Colors


A computer-generated image of the design by Enríque Norten of TEN Arquitectos, Mexico City, for the Brooklyn Library for the Visual and Performing Arts. It will be an important part of the BAM cultural district.

TIRED of special effects? How about special causes? That's what unbuilt architectural designs represent. Models and drawings need not be poor substitutes for completed buildings. They possess their own intrinsic interest. They are links in the chain of causality that produces, sustains and transforms major cities over time. And if a design is special enough, a city can take up the cause of getting it built.

Here's a good cause for the New Year: a design by Enríque Norten/TEN Arquitectos for the proposed Brooklyn Library for the Visual and Performing Arts. Sleek, curvaceous, colorful and alive, this is New York's first full-fledged masterwork for the information age. More than any other recent New York project, Norten's design captures the spirit of the contemporary city. Its relationship to the history of urban space is profound. In short, the project crystallizes the restless energies coalescing around the culture of cities worldwide.

Norten's proposal was chosen last year in a juried competition organized as part of a program set up by the National Endowment for the Arts. Talk about good causes. Conceived by Mark Robbins, former head of the endowment's division for design, the program was established to raise the quality of public works by emulating the competition system used widely in Europe. (Competition entries by Rafael Viñoly and Jean Nouvel are on view along with Norten's design at the Urban Center in Manhattan through Feb. 24.) The model deserves wider application.

The library is a central component in the ambitious arts district planned for the area around the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The academy, the BAM Harvey Theater and the Mark Morris Dance Center are already in operation. Mixed-income housing, studios and rehearsal spaces for local arts groups are in the works. Rem Koolhaas, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio are among the architects working on the master plan under the supervision of our very own Diaghilev, Harvey Lichtenstein. (Diller was a juror in the competition that selected Norten's design.)

Like other civic projects, this one has been delayed by 9/11. The delay could be beneficial. An incremental approach could spare the existing Fort Greene community radical disruption. The planners have tried to be sensitive to the negative as well as the positive social consequences that can result from projects like this: rise in property values; displacement by gentrification; failure to serve local as well as imported artists. But balancing the equities is an unending process in New York. The quality of architecture should weigh more heavily in the balance.

The library's triangular site (now a parking lot) is just across Ashland Place from the Academy's main building and the adjacent Brooklyn Savings Bank building, the area's most prominent landmark. Flatbush and Lafayette Avenues border the other sides of the site. The Academy may be a Beaux Arts building, but Flatbush Avenue is far from Haussmann's boulevards. The area's architectural jumble does not invite conformity. Norten offers none.

The V-shaped design extrudes the site upward into an eight-story glass envelope that will shimmer with color, light, reflections and movement. Two wings flare out from the point of the V, enclosing a trapezoidal courtyard dominated by a broad set of steps. This grand ceremonial entrance can double as an arena for performances and other outdoor events.

We're looking at full-thrust contemporary architecture. The sleek horizontal structure is composed along nautical or aerodynamic lines. The tip and one wing of the V are dramatically cantilevered from a recessed base, a structural feat engineered by Guy Nordenson & Associates. It brings to mind the Winged Victory of Samothrace. The tip projects forward in an upward-tapering curve, like a ship's prow slicing through urban congestion. The wings terminate in jutting rectilinear forms that evoke the Concorde's engines.

The ease with which Norten unifies these complex shapes is the design's outstanding feature. The building is not fragmented. Norten does not resort to collage. Rather, the contour shifts smoothly from crisp edge to curve, angle, taper and plane. This eloquent shape-shifting might be taken to represent a neighborhood in transition; the transformative qualities of art; the complex mix of uses going on behind the building's glass facades; and the transformation of the 19th-century industrial city into the ethereal information exchange that the library's users will inhabit.

Conceptually, Norton's design descends from what the historian Stephen Kern has called "the culture of time and space" — the reaction of art and literature to modern technology. Frank Lloyd Wright, El Lissitzky, Antonio Sant' Elia and Erich Mendelsohn are among the leading architects whose work was influenced by innovations in communications and transportation. Technology was collapsing the spaces and synchronizing the time differences between cities. These architects helped formulate new languages for describing that cosmopolitan ethos in urban space.

Like Zaha Hadid, Wolf Prix, Toyo Ito, Thom Mayne, Jean Nouvel and other contemporary architects, Norten is performing a similar task for ours. Formally, Norten's design harks back to Mendelsohn, the Weimar-era German Expressionist architect best known for drawings executed with broad, dynamic strokes. Norten's sweeping horizontal lines also convey movement. His design is, you might say, Mendelsohn's prototype for a Central Airport project of 1914, 90 years down the line.

Buildings don't move in space. Like civilizations, however, they move in time. Seen in this dimension, Mendelsohn's graphically dynamic contours were more than metaphoric. They were spaceships expressly made for moving along the arrow of time. And here we are.

Adam Greenfield, a young dot-com consultant now based in Tokyo, reminded me recently of the distinction Marshall McLuhan drew between "light on" (print) and "light through" (electronic) information media. Like recent work by Jean Nouvel, Norten's design communicates by laminating both types of media together. Modern glass buildings accomplished this to a lesser degree, by overlaying transparency with reflections. New glass technology allows architects a far richer range of effects.

In Norten's design, the glass skin functions as a theatrical scrim. Natural light can be varied, according to interior function, by the density of fritting on the surface. Viewed from without, this technique will diffuse the rainbow of colors that will differentiate the floors. It will also allow images to be projected on the skin, converting portions of the facade into a billboard for events throughout the arts district. People moving inside the building will appear, alternatively, as three-dimensional figures and as a frieze of silhouettes.

In principle, the modern glass curtain wall dissolved the barrier between inside and outside. Norten's design articulates the membrane as porous spatial boundary. It assumes the symbolic dimension of the overlap between our inner and outer worlds.

They say that architecture is frozen music. Are we ready for a frozen Margarita? One juror observed that only an architect from a sunny country could produce such a cheerful building. Norten, who was educated in Mexico and the United States, now conducts a transnational practice. In addition to running his firm in Mexico City, he teaches architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He has recently opened a satellite office in New York.

Norten's design reflects the increasing visibility of Latin American architects in New York. It would be silly to reduce the design to a fusion of Latin and North American influences. Rather, it exemplifies the range of cosmopolitan influences that are widespread in architecture today.

Architects like Norten are not preaching the old modern message about machine-age standardization. Neither are they falling for today's similarly homogenized (New Urbanist) formulas for "sense of place." A sense of displacement, actually, may best describe what they are up to: a joyous response to the dislocation produced by changing times. *

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

January 19th, 2003, 06:32 AM
You always inform and entertain Christian. *:)

January 19th, 2003, 07:01 AM
Thanks, but I usually just post articles.

TLOZ Link5
January 19th, 2003, 11:54 AM
The building is quite gorgeous.

January 19th, 2003, 12:45 PM
I can't wait

January 21st, 2003, 11:27 AM

April 20th, 2003, 07:04 PM
The themes that arose in all of these projects-colored coded program, creative siting, the experimentation with glass facades and interstitial spaces to interlace building and surroundings-deeply informed TEN's submission for the Visual and Performing Arts Library Competition.

Norten began his discussion of the library project by outlining the history and features of the site, a wedge- shaped lot near downtown Brooklyn, delimited to the west by Atlantic Avenue, to the north by Lafayette Avenue, and to the east by Ashland Place. Across Ashland Place, it faces the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Art Deco tower of the Williamsburg Savings Bank, which dominates the area's skyline. The neighborhood already has a number of arts and cultural institutions, many of them affiliated with the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The competition for the library is part of an energetic initiative to revitalize the neighborhood by taking advantage of its plentiful cultural resources, to make it a focal point of New York artistic and cultural life. Part of this initiative is the Brooklyn Academy of Music cultural district, master planning for which has been carried out by Rem Koolhaas and Diller and Scofidio.

The competition for the Visual & Performing Arts Library, which was funded through a $50,000 grant form the National Endowment for the Arts, featured submissions from TEN Arquitectos, Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Huff + Gooden, and Rafael Vinoly Architects. The competition brief, Norten recalled, was challenging. It demanded an ambitious 150,000 square foot program to include reading rooms, stack space, multimedia archive spaces hosting both traditional and contemporary technologies, exhibition space, performance spaces, a cafe, copy center, administrative, development and circulation spaces, 24/7 indoor space, and an outdoor public space. Moreover, a plot on the northern edge of the site has been reserved for the future construction of a theater. Lastly, the brief demanded explicitly that the new library be highly integrated with the surrounding neighborhood.

From the outset, TEN's overriding goal was "to create a new vocabulary of the library, something much more inviting and part of the community than the traditional heavy stone building." Norten explained that TEN wanted to "discover new possibilities for space and light" while competently and coherently answering the ambitious program requirements." Formally, Norten explained, his team undertook to create a "a permeable building, a transparent building." "This can be taken literally or conceptually," he said, "and the two interpretations come very close together."

A major challenge in the project was how to tie together a complex program and create a coherent and unified "spatial experience and understanding," while sufficiently maintaining the independence of each programmatic component. Norten discussed several of TEN's responses to this challenge. One was the creation of a floor-to-roof central volume in the interior of the building. This central atrium, Norten explained, serves to "anchor one's sense of place" and acts additionally as a light well for the main circulatory spaces. In plan, the architects deeply indented the base of the "triangle", to open up a v-shaped public plaza that serves as a focal point for neighborhood civic life, and leaves ample space for the theater to be built on the site's northern edge.

Zoning regulations limited the height of the project to eight stories above grade, so the project features two underground floors. To gain square footage in spite of the cramped footprint, the project increases in area as it rises, giving the building an appearance somewhat like an anvil or an inverted iron. At the northwest corner of the project, floors five and higher form an overhang that shelters the public space at street level. The underground floors contain parking, mechanical facilities, and an auditorium. The ground floor features lobby, cafe, book and gift shop, and 24/7 public space. The middle floors host the library's arts and music archives, multimedia facilities, library services, performance spaces, and library circulation functions, while the upper floors take in office space for library development and administration. The different programmatic areas and floors are distinguished by the bright colors of their walls-the ground floor is blue, the middle floors radiate teals and greens, and the upper floors reds and oranges. These colors are visible through the glass facade that envelopes the entire project. The facade, a key component of the project's "permeability," is formed of two or three layers of sandwiched glass, depending on the program it shelters and its orientation. For Norten, the glass facade both welcomes the neighborhood into the project, and can serve as "a billboard" to project the library's activities outward.

In conclusion, Norten expressed his optimism that it would contribute to the richness of what "is going to be one of the most important areas of the city."

April 20th, 2003, 07:33 PM
I was at the site today. I was imagining.

May 14th, 2003, 07:56 AM


October 22nd, 2003, 09:00 PM


TLOZ Link5
October 22nd, 2003, 09:32 PM
Anything new about this development? I'm excited!

January 5th, 2004, 12:01 PM
http://www.theslatinreport.com/NORTEN2.jpg http://www.theslatinreport.com/VALext.jpg


February 7th, 2004, 09:06 AM


March 27th, 2004, 10:14 AM

March 27th, 2004, 11:24 AM
This building is super sleek! Its architecture is belonging of Venice Beach.

April 21st, 2004, 03:59 AM
Library Project In Brooklyn Scaled Back

APRIL 18TH, 2004

Plans for a visual and performing arts library in Brooklyn have reportedly been downsized.

The designs unveiled two years ago called for a 150,000-square-foot facility at Flatbush Avenue and Ashland Place.

Library officials had hoped to raise $120 million for the project. But a library spokesperson tells the New York Times that they have raised less than $15 million so far.

Now, developers only plan to spend about $70 million on a facility that will be about 40,000 square feet smaller.

And groundbreaking for the project has been pushed back from next year to 2006.

Copyright © 2004 NY1 News

April 21st, 2004, 06:17 PM
Sad to hear that... :(

TLOZ Link5
April 21st, 2004, 07:31 PM
Sad to hear that... :(

Ditto. :cry:

April 22nd, 2004, 12:06 AM
The library knew that they had set an extremely ambitious goal. For a year press clippings have revealed that fundraising had not taken off. Have inner politics and personalities sabotaged their efforts? Mere speculation. Lincoln Center and other NYC arts groups are having a difficult time shaking the trees to fund their extensive wish lists.

But I am saddened if Brooklyn misses this opportunity for an outstanding library complex set within an arts district that already is impressive and will only continue to expand. Let's hope that someone with deep pockets will come forward and have the charisma to inspire other heavy-weights to make this investment in Brooklyn.

TLOZ Link5
April 22nd, 2004, 12:51 AM
Bloomberg, perhaps? His reputation as a philanthropist in cultural circles is no big secret.

April 22nd, 2004, 10:50 AM
I don't know how "sorry" I am to hear it. The renderings showed a building pressed to the edges of the property lines. I'm kind of surprised by how much the space has been reduced. If they justified a 120,000sf need, how can they possibly get by with 40,000sf?

April 22nd, 2004, 12:24 PM
It's being reduced by 40K, not going to be 40K.

January 25th, 2005, 09:54 PM
Thursday, january 27, 6:30–9:30pm:

Architecture as Catalyst:
Visual and Performing Arts Library
by TEN Arquitectos


An exhibition presenting TEN Arquitectos’ design studies for Brooklyn Public Library’s Visual and Performing Arts Library. Selected through an international competition two years ago, this first New York project awarded to TEN marks a gateway to diverse arts resources and launches downtown Brooklyn’s new cultural district.

RSVP to rsvp@aiany.org or 212.683.0023 x 111
Exhibition on view January 27 – April 16, 2005

Sponsors: Brooklyn Public Library, Cemusa, and Harlem Park

January 25th, 2005, 10:53 PM
is this near the site of the nets new arena?

January 25th, 2005, 11:01 PM
About 3 blocks away...

January 26th, 2005, 03:42 PM
is this near the site of the nets new arena?

Same general area, you'll be able to see them both in the same vista! :P

December 18th, 2005, 04:21 PM
Newer renderings. Looks airier and more transparent.

December 19th, 2005, 10:24 AM
Very nice. Is this project "go" or "no-go"? I was walking into Manhattan yesterday via Flatbush and the stretch of Flatbush from BAM to State Street is pretty bad. The area is just trashed all the time and there is a worn down decrepit building for people needing public assistance in the middle of all of it. Just not very appealing. The city / state really need to provide facilities and environments for these people that are more respectful.

December 23rd, 2005, 09:54 PM
Interesting redesign. I wish there were higher resolution images, though.

December 24th, 2005, 02:09 PM
Very nice. Is this project "go" or "no-go"? I was walking into Manhattan yesterday via Flatbush and the stretch of Flatbush from BAM to State Street is pretty bad. The area is just trashed all the time and there is a worn down decrepit building for people needing public assistance in the middle of all of it. Just not very appealing. The city / state really need to provide facilities and environments for these people that are more respectful.

They should just demolish all of the public assistance buildings that make this whole downtown brooklyn area so unappealing, why do you need to have this scurge in a up and coming area thats trying to come back? Why do you need these building at all? Can alll of these things be either a) outsourced for processing to india b)moved online completely getting rid of this self fulfilling prophecy which just degrades people?

My family moved to new york in 1993 from Saint Petersburg (not florida) , one of the most beautiful cities on earth and my mother a history teacher and my grandfather a violinist and a principal of a conservatory had the pleasure of having to go to these processing centers to apply for public assistance so we could get by for a few years until we could learn english and get jobs. I remember how horrible it was going down to these place...not only do they treat you like your inhuman scum but they dont have any concept of where you just came from and what you need. WHen filling various forms out and doing interviews they dont even bother to check the correct spelling etc. This experience sure as hell made me realise that in America you dont want to be poor, because the poor are nothing and nobody cares about you.

January 6th, 2006, 02:03 AM

Brooklyn Eagle
From ‘Leftover Wedge’ to Arts Library: Architect Expands Plan
by Dennis Holt (Holt@brooklyneagle.net), published online 01-06-2006

Register to read article and view images. Also, I think Enrique Norten's website added some more images.


January 6th, 2006, 09:48 AM
I'm glad this project hasn't been pushed to the sidelines.

Theater for a New Audience will also occupy the site.

http://img225.imageshack.us/img225/8435/vpasite018xf.th.jpg (http://img225.imageshack.us/my.php?image=vpasite018xf.jpg)

January 6th, 2006, 11:47 AM
The challenge for that project, as I might have state before, is the stretch of abysmal buildings across the street from it. It is easily the filthiest stretch of Flatbush Avenue. There is a Human Resource Administration / Social Services Office across the street. The folks who work and visit have a perfect 100% average for completely missing the garbage cans when tossing their trash. Those building, of course, are the only ones without Massey Knakal signs on them along Flatbush Ave.

January 6th, 2006, 12:39 PM
This is going to be great:

January 6th, 2006, 05:22 PM
I think it's going to be a while before this project starts. Work is currently underway on an infrastructure project that has that wedge tied up for a while.

February 12th, 2006, 11:36 AM
Here's Rafael Vinoly's proposal, it's also stunning.

May 11th, 2006, 08:11 AM
That would make for an impressive structure.

May 11th, 2006, 09:00 PM
There were a few projects on display over the weekend at a former church (Fort Greene House Tour), this was one of them. There were several renderings and a few models, looked like evolving study models. I can see myself in the space between this and the Theatre for a New Audience... I'm getting antsy for construction.

May 11th, 2006, 09:59 PM
Downtown Brooklyn sure needs some help.

May 11th, 2006, 10:14 PM
The next twelve months we'll see some new height in the skyline. There's ALOT of development going on, but there's a resistance to HUGE and a resistance to building spec commercial space.

All of the designs for this library so far have been impessuve, but that area is going to need MUCH more to make it attractive.

April 30th, 2007, 04:30 PM
Kiss their glass! Library still in trouble

By Ariella Cohen
The Brooklyn Paper

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Arts Library.

Brooklyn Public Library officials reportedly said this week that their efforts to raise money for an iconic, $135-million glass-walled performing arts branch have failed — and that the project can’t go forward at this point.

Crain’s New York Business reported that a “library insider” made it clear that “the project will be saved only if a partner comes along to finance the building.”

Readers of The Brooklyn Paper are well aware of the library’s ongoing inability to get donors jazzed up over the Enrique Norten–designed Visual and Performing Arts Library, a bow-shaped structure that would be built on a city-owned triangle bounded by Flatbush Avenue, St. Felix Street and Lafayette Avenue.

But this is the first time that the library has publicly stated that the project cannot be done without a private partner.

“We don’t have the funding right now and are looking [to other organizations],” said library spokeswoman Stefanie Arck.

The arts library is a main feature of the city’s plan to surround the Brooklyn Academy of Music with a Lincoln Center–style campus that includes new housing and cultural institutions.

Arck said that the BPL would consider sharing the Fort Greene lot with a partner.

“We are open to considering all kinds of partnerships at this point,” she said.

Last year, The Brooklyn Paper reported that library trustees approached developer Bruce Ratner, a longtime BAM trustee, about funding the facility, which would be located just a few blocks from his $4-billion Atlantic Yards mega-project.

But those talks apparently went nowhere.

When the library design was unveiled in 2002, officials predicted the building would cost $75 million and open in 2005. Last year, the price tag ballooned to $135 million, and groundbreaking was pushed back to 2009.

The call for partners has again put that groundbreaking on hold — but Arck emphasized that the library has not “scrapped” the project.

Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) remains a critic of the project, no matter who is funding it.

“There are many existing libraries that need air-conditioning, computers, more books and more staff to keep them open seven days a week,” James said. “Until resources are given to make those improvements, we should not build a new library that will only serve the needs of a few.”

©2007 The Brooklyn Paper

May 1st, 2007, 01:55 AM
Brooklyn already had a library, and its full on spectacular at that. Plus, libraries are becoming less important in the modern digital age. 135 million could be put to better use.

What they should do instead is build a Cirque du Soleil theater or similar venue, to help attract people to Brooklyn. But I'd like to see it be a private sector, self supporting use like the aforementioned Cirque.

May 1st, 2007, 08:28 AM
Actors still learn their trade from scripts. Set-designers still look at detailed drawings. Music is still orchstrated on paper. The Brooklyn Library at Flatbush & Eastern Parkway is a grand place, but wholly unequipped for this type of collection. The loss of this libray is a serious blow to creating a credible "cultural" district. Every city has some sort of performing arts district or facility. This would have created a center for study as well.

All the "big plans" for Brooklyn continue to to get dumbed down in one of the biggest "bait and switch" scams ever unloaded on a public.

May 1st, 2007, 10:04 AM
Brooklyn Rider is accurate in his assessment. Folks travel into the city specifically to go to the Library at Lincoln Center. The Brooklyn Library would be a similar specialized resource within an already recognized cultural magnet. Local s will utilize it, and it will draw additional visual and performing artists to the area. Will the BAM cultural district make progress towards its goals, or should we settle for an entertainment and/or retail district. Hopefully the powers-that-be in Brooklyn are too smart for such a stupid dumbing-down.

May 1st, 2007, 11:37 AM
Let's hope they find an alternate source of funding. If it's important enough to Brooklyn, corporate sponsorship shouldn't be a drawback.

May 3rd, 2007, 06:13 PM
Arts Library Planned in Brooklyn Hits a Snag

The latest plan for the BAM Cultural District no longer includes the Visual and Performing Arts Library designed by Enrique Norten.

Published: May 3, 2007

The new arts library designed by Enrique Norten that was supposed to rise like the prow of a glass ship near the Brooklyn Academy of Music now seems likely to sink, unrealized, into the pavement.

All the same, planners say they have raised money for a new theater designed by Hugh Hardy for the academy and hope to break ground next year.

Eight months after the city stepped up its role in overseeing development in what is known as the BAM Cultural District, in Fort Greene, projects are being assessed as viable or unrealistic.

“The library project as designed has not proved to be feasible,” said Kate D. Levin, commissioner of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs. “However, there is a continued commitment to build on that site and have some component be a library.”

With a revolving door of directors, the Brooklyn Public Library system has not raised any of what it estimates as a $135 million price for the Visual and Performing Arts Library. Initially, the system had planned to break ground on the project in 2005, with a grand opening this year. But two of its directors have come and gone since planning began, and a third, Dionne Mack-Harvin, assumed her post only in March.

In a statement, Ms. Mack-Harvin said yesterday that she still hoped to see a library built in the area. “While at this time we do not have the funds needed to build the V.P.A. as originally envisioned, we are still looking at options for funding, including seeking partners to assist in financing,” she said. “We realize the importance of providing free resources and services to Brooklynites — especially in this rapidly growing area.”

Mr. Norten said he still hoped to design the project in its altered form. “It will have to be a completely new design, but it could be even better,” he said. “I’m very excited about revising all of this.”

With its cantilevered glass envelope, Mr. Norten’s library had drawn wide praise as a bold and colorful design that would anchor the district’s artistic ambitions. Alan H. Fishman, the chairman of the academy, said he was sorry to see it go. “The design was so captivating,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said, the academy has raised enough pledges to move ahead with designs for a $40 million annex on Ashland Place, bordered by Lafayette Avenue and Hanson Place, that is to include a 300-seat theater, education activities and archives. Mr. Hardy, the architect, is also designing, with Frank Gehry, a new home in the cultural district for the Theater for a New Audience, at Lafayette Avenue and Ashland Place.

Mr. Fishman is also co-chairman of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, created last summer as an umbrella organization to coordinate planning in the area as the city sought to jump-start a languishing redevelopment effort. Among the groups consolidated under the partnership were the BAM Local Development Corporation, which had previously overseen the arts district; the Downtown Brooklyn Council; the Fulton Mall Improvement Association; and the MetroTech Business Improvement District.

Joseph Chan left his post as a senior policy adviser in Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff’s office last September to become president of the partnership.

“I think what you see is tangible progress on all of the major initiatives,” Mr. Chan said. “We wanted to put every project on a design and construction timeline, with clear lines of accountability and a clear set of expectations and milestones.”

The city has $75 million in financing allocated for the cultural district through fiscal 2009. “We want to make sure there is an appropriate marriage of resources, capability and intent for every project we do,” Mr. Doctoroff said.

Some Brooklyn arts executives say the new leadership has made a difference. “This has been a very positive development,” said Harvey Lichtenstein, the former academy impresario who is now chairman of cultural planning for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “It gives it stronger backing from the mayor’s office, from the city and of course in terms of connections.”

The BAM Cultural District was conceived in 2000 as a $650 million effort to revitalize the area by converting vacant and underused properties into spaces for arts organizations. Since then, with the explosion of Brooklyn’s residential real estate market, developers have become an important force in the arts district.

Plans now call for a new headquarters for Danspace Project, which commissions and presents contemporary choreography, to be built at Ashland Place and Fulton Street, with a 20-story residential tower on top. A formal request for proposals went out to developers in February, and responses are due on May 18. David Walentas, the developer behind much of the Dumbo area of Brooklyn, said he would submit a proposal.

Mr. Walentas said he would consider being part of a revised library project that would also include private uses. He declined to elaborate.

The chosen developer is expected to pay for the building’s structure and the apartments, half of which are to be affordable housing. “The city wants to see as big a contribution as possible from the development team,” Mr. Chan said.

Meanwhile, some of those involved are concerned about whether Danspace will be able to raise its own share, estimated at $10 million to $15 million. “They’re a small organization and they’ve never done this kind of fund-raising,” Mr. Lichtenstein said. “But I’m going to help them.”

The city said it had not yet determined its contribution to the Danspace headquarters, which is intended to offer affordable studio space to a multitude of choreographers.

In a few weeks, the Theater for a New Audience, an Off Broadway company that produces Shakespeare and classical drama, is expected to present new designs for a building that would be its first permanent home. The landscape architect Ken Smith was selected in December to design a public plaza and streetscape for the new district. In March the city issued a request for proposals for a multilevel underground parking garage topped by a public plaza in the district.

Not all of Brooklyn is enthusiastic about the way the district has evolved. Some public officials worry that the private development will price out local residents, and complain that Brooklyn cultural groups have been sidelined.

“I want indigenous organizations incorporated into the district,” said City Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents Fort Greene.

Yet other projects are still being dreamed up. Mr. Lichtenstein, for example, said he would like to see a “major visual art facility.”

“I always had this crazy vision of Brooklyn being the Left Bank of New York,” he added. “It’s not so crazy anymore.”


Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

May 3rd, 2007, 07:56 PM
Brooklyn keeps gettting the shaft.

Ends up with the crappy projects -- and none of the cutting edge stuff.

May 4th, 2007, 01:52 AM
The city shot its Brooklyn wad on Atlantic Yards. This administration is not putting any money into Brooklyn or Brooklyn infrastructure - unless you count the never-ending "roadwork" on the Gowanus Expressway.

May 4th, 2007, 02:29 PM
We have to keep things in perspective. The Performing Arts Center is a great project and it would be extremely unfortunate if it were allowed to die. But at the same time it does not directly fix any of Brooklyn's most pressing problems. The major one being the need for more housing.

The community should have made some attempt to negotiate with Ratner for funding of community projects. They had no negotiating room when they attempted to kill the project from the start.

May 4th, 2007, 02:38 PM
Mr. Norten said he still hoped to design the project in its altered form. “It will have to be a completely new design, but it could be even better,” he said. “I’m very excited about revising all of this.”

Seems there might still be some life in this project. The original design was a gorgeous solution on an irregular-shaped block that was exuberant yet still gave object-of-place to the Williamsburg Bank/One Hanson Place. Could a public/private mixed-use development be financially feasible yet not oversize? Norten sounds excited. I hope there's some reason behind the hope.

June 17th, 2008, 12:33 PM
Mixed-Use Facility Planned For Brooklyn Cultural District


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TEN Arquitectos
The proposal for this Enrique Norten-designed library will now be replaced with a mixed-use facility from the same architect.

By KATE TAYLOR, Staff Reporter of the Sun
June 16, 2008 (http://www.nysun.com/new-york/mixed-use-facility-planned-for-brooklyn-cultural/80055/)

In an adjustment to a worsening economic climate, a triangular parking lot in downtown Brooklyn that originally was slated to be an Enrique Norten-designed public library will be developed instead by Two Trees Management as a mixed-use facility.

The city is expected to finalize the plan in the coming days. In addition to 180 housing units and 187,000 square feet of commercial space, the proposed 371,000-square-foot facility, to be designed by Mr. Norten, will include studios, offices, and performance space for Brooklyn-based arts organizations. The building could also include a small branch library — one much more modest than originally planned.

Under the deal, Two Trees would pay the city $20 million in cash for the site. The developer would also transfer another nearby property, valued at $6.5 million, to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which would use it to build administrative offices and a new, 263-seat community and educational theater.

The lot to be developed by Two Trees is the southernmost site included in the BAM Cultural District, a $650 million joint initiative between the city and a nonprofit local development corporation called the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. The cultural district will also include a home for Theatre for a New Audience, designed by Frank Gehry and Hugh Hardy, and a mixed-use tower with studios and performance space for Danspace Project.

The fate of the so-called south site, at the corner of Ashland Place and Flatbush Avenue, had been up in the air since last year, when the city acknowledged that the library plan was no longer feasible because the Brooklyn Public Library had been unable to raise the necessary funds.

Owned by the father and son partners David and Jed Walentas, Two Trees Management is best known as the driving force behind the development of DUMBO. Although real estate values have skyrocketed there, Two Trees still offers free or subsidized space to arts groups, including St. Ann's Warehouse, Triangle Arts Association, and Galapagos Art Space. In a statement, Jed Walentas described the site for the Enrique Norten building as sitting "at the nexus of Downtown Brooklyn's commercial core, the cultural district, and some of the finest residential neighborhoods anywhere in America."

Council Member Letitia James said her support for the new plan hinged on the inclusion of space for local arts groups. "A significant number of groups are being displaced in downtown Brooklyn," she said. "I demanded that, if any developer wanted my support, they had to include a place for groups that had been in Fort Greene during the bad times and who want to be there during the good times."

If the city finalizes the plan, the facility will house the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Creative Outlet Dance Theatre Brooklyn, Errol Grimes Dance Group, Evidence Dance Company, and Urban Bush Women.

Ms. James said she is hoping that Two Trees also will carve out affordable housing in the facility. Although two of the other sites being developed will include low- and moderate-income housing, she said that was not enough. "I don't want segregated housing," she said.

As for the new BAM annex, which will be on Ashland Place, between Lafayette Avenue and Hanson Place, Ms. James is lobbying the president of BAM, Karen Brooks Hopkins, to allow schools and local arts groups to use the theater at a nominal cost.

The president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Joe Chan, described the new arrangement as a serendipitous solution to the stalled library plan. "We are enthusiastic that this project will bring an architecturally iconic building to one of the most visible locations in New York City, and that the building will be tenanted by arts and cultural groups that have been cultivated and grown locally," he said.

The president of Brooklyn, Marty Markowitz, said: "I'm thrilled with these plans for mixed-use spaces, an iconic Enrique Norten-designed building and the demonstrated commitment to community arts and creating affordable housing — which is the best way to preserve the ethnic, cultural, and economic diversity that defines life in the 'global city' of Brooklyn."

In other changes in the development plans, Theatre for a New Audience has agreed to shift its building to a mid-block site from the corner of Lafayette Avenue and Ashland Place in order to allow the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to use the site for affordable housing.

A spokesman for the city's Economic Development Corporation, Jeff Roberts, said plans for the south site were not yet finalized. "We're now working to determine what uses will fill the substantial cultural space that will be provided in the development," he said. "In all likelihood, the ultimate uses will include a combination of various institutions, including ones from the local community."

© 2008 The New York Sun, One, SL, LLC.

June 17th, 2008, 12:41 PM
I'm glad everything worked out this way. Mixed use is really the best way to go and generally, the best use of land in this city.

June 17th, 2008, 01:47 PM
I agree. Mixed use is the best use for that area, which is a major transit hub and a joining point of four vibrant neighborhoods.

I'm ambivalent on Letiticia James remarks. I have a natural adversarial reaction to any statement that begins with: "I demand..."

I appreciate her strong representation of her community, but I will have to concede to those folks who have been critical of her that she seems to be a political obstructionist. She is opposing every project in her district unless they meet her list of demands. I am a huge advocate of affordable housing, but I do believe that market rate housing needs to take a foothold in the area in order to establish residential viability.

James is ill-advised and reactionary. A very disappointing turn for her. I once thought she had a great sense of leadership. No, it just sounds self-serving and shrill. Leaders take political risks. She's playing to the choir.

August 10th, 2013, 03:45 PM
Dust off your turntables.

NYC library selling 22,000 vinyl LPs for $1 each

http://entimg.s-msn.com/i/150/News/Aug13/Library%20Vinyl%20Sale_150.jpg© AP/Richard Drew -- NYC Public Library vinyl sale

Aug. 9, 2013, 4:34 PM EST
By KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hundreds of vinyl-record aficionados descended on the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on Friday for a rare sale of LPs from the library's collection.
The three-day sale of 22,000 records started Thursday. It's intended to clear out space and to raise money for future acquisitions and for preserving the library's collection, curator Jonathan Hiam said.
The sale is the first of its kind since 1984, Hiam said. All the albums for sale are duplicates of others owned by the library, which is at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. All are priced to sell at $1, even boxed sets.
Bradley Coufal was among 70 people waiting in line before Friday's sale started.
Bing: Vinyl sales up (http://www.bing.com/search?q=Vinyl+sales+up&go=&qs=n&form=msnena)
"I just, like, am an avid dollar bin record seeker," Coufal said. "When I heard there were 22,000 records, I was excited."
Inside, the records were packed into boxes in no particular order, here the soundtrack of the movie "New York, New York," there Joan Sutherland singing a Bellini opera. Classical music predominated, but jazz, show tunes and other genres were represented.
Donald Cleveland, a reissue producer, was looking for specific album covers that he could photograph for CD or digital reissues.
"I've found a few items," Cleveland said. "A Brazilian piece, a couple of soundtracks, a blues album -- none of which I was looking for but I'm happy nonetheless."
Buyers said CDs and MP3s can't compare with the sound of vinyl.
"Not listening to records is like not drinking wine," said Brian Belott, a visual artist shopping for "Mozart, Bach, Hindemith, Poulenc."
Eli Zimmerman, a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Opera, examined a recording by pianist Artur Schnabel but rejected it as too scratched.
Plenty of other LPs went into a box at his feet.
"Yesterday I bought 30, 40 records," Zimmerman said. "Today I'll probably buy about the same. And I'll try to sneak them under cover of night so that my wife doesn't see that I have gotten more records. I obviously have a record addiction."