NEW YORK | Gowanus Canal Rezoning

Yes, but I’m also referring to BIG’s approach to urban spaces in general. I’m a big fan of his optimism, but I can see them working much better in northern Europe than in the rest of the world.


Idk if it’s urban spaces more than trying to bring nature into a project because the project’s themselves are urban, but not all of them are good in terms of urban design and how that interacts with public spaces or street level.

This Gowanus proposal is a good example of urban design using his formula and idea of it, but a bad example would be his Via 57 West project, which has absolutely no connection to the ground level and the greenspace itself is sheltered in the inner hollowed out volume. But I see your point overall that more of his projects fit better in Europe than they do in NY or elsewhere.

It boarders on invasive, as opposed to intimate.

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I’m referring to his ideas of merging buildings into public spaces by connecting them to the street or a park and blurring the lines between private/public.
VIA 57 is a travesty for me, like a bad translation of BIG principles, a sad example of what happens when a NY developer distorts them. Although I like the building, it doesn’t represent BIG’s philosophy.


Yeah, I got that much. :+1: But I personally think his concept of merging spaces whether private or public is too extreme. It’s ok if it’s a public building like a museum or related function. But it seems unnecessary to do it for every building function/type. There are plenty of ways in making a building feel more urban and connected to it’s surroundings even when it’s private in nature, but his “literal” and physical doing of that in almost all off his projects is extremely excessive and almost sort of off-putting.

But generally like GSP mentioned, his small scale projects are where his design skills show more.

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I agree. That’s why I said this concept is great for northern European cultures that share a different view on what’s private or public.
For America, I don’t believe they work.

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Well, it’s also the fact that to some degree, there’s a lack of purpose in design today. Every project has some mixed use, some variety of functions. That’s fine, but there’s perhaps another truth, that sometimes there’s the requirement that housing, for instance, should take a residential format. The vast degree of commercialization in residential design has mostly been able to make our homes better, more durable and efficient. That is inarguably a good thing. On the flip side, there hasn’t been the same sort of pull to make commercial spaces even a tad homier. Like, when restaurants have chairs that aren’t the slightest bit comfortable, or even ergonomically-focused for that matter, or lighting that’s totally too cold. Nothing much, just slip some upholstery on your chairbacks and invest in replacing CFL with LED.

If you made chairs in restaurants really comfy the patrons would linger longer which means less turns per table which lowers profits. It’s all about the Benjamins.



Are both buildings being built at the same time?

I don’t know, but something else is going on behind this fence:


Plenty more is coming. The area has around 10 active projects going on.


The gowanus canal is the new high line. In a few years, it will be surrounded on all sides by flashy new developments. The superfund cleanup efforts will pay dividends down the line. Imagine the sight of people paddleboarding down the canal.


Agreed. This area is going to be completely transformed in under five years.


I could make a whole urinatingtree segment about this area. The current, low-rise nature of the area providing an easy path to greater density, enough old buildings lying around to reclaim for various uses. All you need to do is replace the elevated train viaduct with a deep river tunnel and you can remove that bit of bulk from the system. Maybe use the steel members for structural members to extend the montauk cutoff in queens and give LIC its own high line?


Can’t wait to eat Gowanus oysters on the half shell while dining al fresco at a waterside cafe.


Hahaha, I would wait a bit for that

wow…awesome, thanks!!!

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The Powerhouse is opening in April, I tried to take pictures but they didn’t let me ge closer.


Here’s a clearer rendering of the Carroll and Nevins project: