Setting up home in Brooklyn

SHoP realises visualisation for B2 residential tower, though still lingers on finalising construction method

by Sian 28 November 2011 Urban design
  • Images courtesy of SHoP Architects Click image to expand

    Images courtesy of SHoP Architects

  • Images courtesy of SHoP Architects Click image to expand

    Images courtesy of SHoP Architects

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    Designs for the 340,000 sq ft B2 building - potentially set to become the largest prefabricated modular structure to be erected - have finally been unveiled, after several setbacks had previously hindered initial progress. This release by developer Bruce C. Ratner marks the end to a fostering, in certain sectors, of doubt, over whether the project could overcome the loss of its iconic lead architect Frank Gehry. The resulting firm to take up the mantle of responsibility - New York’s SHoP - were subsequently forced into a number of revised blueprints, as ‘a series of setbacks’ were ‘articulated and integrated into the overall buildings’ massing.’

    Soaring 322ft high into the New York skyline, this 32 story residential tower will be rooted firmly at the heart of the $4.9bn Atlantic yards venture. It aims to deliver a total of 350 apartments, (with 6,430 representing the total quantity of onsite housing units being built), half of which will be deemed as being affordable to low- and middle-income households; exactly who those recipients will be is to be determined later by a City-administered lottery process.

    Just as measures were undertaken to render the adjoining Barclays Center complimentary to surrounding facades, SHoP have again sought to aptly harmonise. According to the architects themselves: “the design strikes a visual balance between the sweeping repose of the Barclays Center arena and the strong verticality of the new residential buildings”. To manage this delicate balance, the massing of the tower has been broken down into a series of discrete volumes. Rather than opting for singularity in the size and semblance of the B2, a striking range of scale and materiality has been employed. The varying rectangular shapes of differing hues of glass likewise assist in breaking up the mass of the structure, and afford an intricate play of light, pattern and texture on its frontispiece.

    Should they persevere with intentions to utilise modular building, it is hoped the beneficial time-saving nature of such methods may lead to an ambitiously quick completion time of just 18months, taken from groundbreaking in early 2012. In addition to this rapid build time it is hoped significant savings on expenditure and waste could be enabled, though it is yet unclear how they’d devise the required lateral bracing for such a sizeable framework. Ratner, colluding on the issue with structural engineering firms Arup and XSite Modular, simply stated: “If anybody can crack the code, this group can.”

    Tom Aston

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