Source: NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation
The new bathrooms lining the Riegelmann Boardwalk along Coney Island and Brighton Beach might not be making everybody happy, but some see them as a sign of the city entering the 21st century. A report by Wired details how the destruction inflicted by Superstorm Sandy on the city’s beaches inspired a new wave of modern architecture on New York City’s shores.
As we’ve previously reported, the new modular pod-like bathrooms enraged residents of the Oceana luxury apartment condominiums (50 Oceana Drive West), who said the structures obstructed their million dollar views of the ocean, but not everyone sees them as eyesores. The pods, designed by Garrison Architects, are solar powered and storm-surge resistant, standing 12-feet high, meeting FEMA’s new standards. The city installed 35 of them citywide as part of their $270 million beach restoration plan.
Paula Scher, a partner at the design firm Pentagram, described how the new beach structures were designed to match the time in which they were constructed.
“The things we built are modern, they’re of their time. These are things that were built in 2013, and they look like 2013,” Scher told Wired.
While many of New York’s beaches, especially Coney Island, are known for their vintage appeal, Scher emphasized that the changing world demands new ideas that meet new requirements.
“There are always people who want to hang onto their past memories. Sometimes I do too,” Scher said. “But the reality of our 21st century world is something we have to embrace and live with.”
Am I alone in loving the look of the new bathroom pods? They are big, sleek and make me think of spaceships. They haven’t detracted from my enjoyment of the boardwalk in any way.
Photo by Lisanne Anderson
The homeowners living in the Victorian Flatbush section of Brooklyn who now seek to have their area designated as a historic district to preserve the large, beautiful 100-year-old homes has a new ally on their side: Councilman Jumaane Williams.
Williams sent out a press release this morning announcing that he joined advocates and community leaders on Sunday in calling for the Landmarks Preservation Commission to accelerate the process of landmarking Victorian Flatbush.
The release said:
“Victorian Flatbush is one of the most unique residential areas in Brooklyn, a borough that has a rich and varied architectural history,” said Council Member Williams. “However, many people are unaware of these beautiful homes right in the center of south Brooklyn, as they often associate Brooklyn architecture as either brownstones or warehouse lofts. Due to the fact that these neighborhoods are not protected as landmarks, many of these homeowners have made alterations to these residences that often times do not resemble the original architectural designs or style, and thus are unintentionally altering history. Additionally, landmarking these neighborhoods will have a positive impact on civic pride that cannot be measured. As such, I strongly encourage the LPC designate the entirety of Victorian Flatbush as historic landmark districts in order to preserve these immaculate homes and communities for generations to come.”
The statement goes on to point out that the landmarking process began more than 35 years ago, when several sections of Victorian Flatbush won historic designation. Along with the Flatbush Development Corporation, Williams and neighbors are looking to see Beverley Square East, Beverley Square West, Caton Park, Ditmas Park West, South Midwood and West Midwood join the already-designated sections to create a complete Victoriam Flatbush historic zone.
In March, the advocates sent a 437-page application to Landmarks, and the LPC has announced a survey team will be dispatched this summer to assess the homes in the area.
Borough President Marty Markowitz and Assemblymember Rhoda Jacobs are also both behind the plan.
“More than 100 years ago, New Yorkers looking to escape the ‘outer borough’ of Manhattan began building a beautiful suburban community in the heart of Brooklyn. And to this day, every time visitors come to Victorian Flatbush, they ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ because they can’t believe such an architectural gem exists in the heart of America’s biggest, most cosmopolitan city,” Markowitz said. “There’s no question that we must do everything in our power to ensure generations to come can appreciate these beautiful homes and communities.”
Even minor embellishments to this home's bargeboard help to highlight the stark differences from its sleek modern neighbor on the left
Anyone who has ever had a Christmas tree knows that without decorations, all you’ve got is a chopped down pine tree in your living room. Tinsel and lights may add something but ornaments are what really brings cheer and raises everyone’s holiday spirit.
Architecture of the Victorian era was no different. Ornaments added a twist to otherwise utilitarian components of a building’s construction. Say you wanted to cover up a roof line or gutter with a cornice or bargeboard or use a corbel to hold up those structures – without ornamentation all you’ve got is a rather dull, plain, boxy piece of wood, metal or stone.
I recently checked out a few of the older homes and houses of worship in and around Sheepshead Bay. As I took photographs, one common theme that seemed to run through these venerable old buildings – and likewise separated them from their plainer, more modern neighbors – was the fine architectural details used to decorate them.
The first and most plentiful example of these energizing embellishments I saw on my trip to the Bay was the Sheepshead Bay United Methodist Church (3087 Ocean Avenue), which has stood at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Voorhies Avenue since 1884.
The wood and metal tracery not only holds together window panes but adds to a more elaborate look
The church, which is built in the Gothic Revival style, also has a major Eastlake influence. The big giveaway that the church is built in the Gothic style is its lancet-arched windows and doors. Its Eastlake influence can be seen in the elaborate bargeboards hanging down from its roof eaves and gables – complete with pendants dropping down to decorate the empty air below. Click Here For More Historic Southern Brooklyn Architecture
Cool picture, right? I thought so, too.
The United Methodist Church of Sheepshead Bay (3087 Ocean Avenue), as previously reported, has swapped contractors and gone forward with a temporarily plan to stabilize the steeples. They began putting in the supports on April 29, and now a series of steel wires sprout out of the steeple, distributing its weight around and holding it in place. Cement has been poured in the yard anchoring the entire system, and a support also leans against the side of the steeple’s base.
We’ve heard from some that they don’t think it’s a particularly elegant solution, but I think it looks kind of cool. And, in the end, it means the church is looking to keep the steeples. Let’s just hope they can raise the money they need to restore them properly and safeguard the structure.
Courtesy Google Maps
If architect Frank Gehry took a dump from the top of the ugly tree, then that dump hit every branch on the way down, and then a naked mole rat ate the dump, vomited it up, ate the vomit, got diarrhea from it – the condo above would be the architectural equivalent of the resulting putrid liquid expelled from that naked mole rat’s rear.
And though this is one of the worst new constructions in the area, it really does exemplify the limits of creative thinking in Sheepshead Bay’s condo architecture.
That’s why I burst into laughter when I received the following message in my inbox. I mean, this guy is looking for the “star architects” of Sheepshead Bay, the neighborhood of the fugliest of the fugly when it comes to condo architecture. In addition to the sack o’ crap above, on Nostrand Avenue and Emmons Avenue, we also have condos like The Breakers, the fanciest storage unit complex in the borough.
Here’s what our reader wrote:
Have a question- I’m looking for a nice/boutique/luxe’ property in the Brighton Beach/Sheepshead area. My lease is coming up in about six months, so I wanted to begin doing some research.
Any recommendations? Are there any local star architects? Are there any local really awesome (modern) clean, glassy buildings?
I particularly like the stuff of Meier, Gehry, etc… it’s probably out of my price league but still would be interesting to know if any great architects really touch our area?
Really? I’m being punk’d, right? The nicest condo architecture in Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach would be considered average at best by any other neighborhood’s standard.
But that’s my opinion, and obviously I can’t help this guy. Anyone care to add anything?
A reader recently told me she moved out of Sheepshead Bay to New Jersey (shudder) because the neighborhood didn’t have any yards and white picket fences. Consider this my rebuttal.
East 19th Street between Voorhies Avenue and Jerome Avenue.
Courtesy of Nathan Kensinger
Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay share a lot of things. A huge Eastern European population. A beautiful waterfront. And a screwed up history of poorly planned development. The last bit got highlighted in Brighton Beach by urban photographer Nathan Kensinger. He turned his lens to Brighton’s abandoned bungalows and condos, and through photos and text gives a great retelling of the Beach’s history. He describes the nabe as “pockmarked with abandoned construction sites, huge empty lots, and boarded up buildings. Arsonists, squatters and drug dealers have moved in to these unclaimed spaces … a few remaining summer bungalows have born the brunt of the damage.” Some might take issue with his comparisons with the Rockaways, and some might also say that he fails to highlight the good side. But as a story of poor planning scarring a community for generations to come, I think Kensinger tells it just fine.
· Brighton Beach Bungalows [via Curbed]
Actually, this post really should have been titled, Local Architecture Student Starts Blog To Save Manhattan Beach Architecture, But From The Looks Of It, It’s Too Late — but, that wouldn’t have fit into the allotted space.
The blog — dedicated to news and information related to the address 230 Corbin Place (between Oriental Boulevard & the Atlantic Ocean) — is run by, Valerie, a Manhattan Beach resident and student of architecture. When Valerie first saw the house on the 40 ft x 144.58 ft lot being razed, she expressed her feeling of loss of the old-style Manhattan Beach buildings by doing what any preservationistic, nostalgic, young person would do — she researched and documented it!
But to top it all off, she started a blog to share her passion for her neighborhood. This is the kind of thing to which we at Sheepshead Bites can really relate.
Her last post was in February, so that just leads us to believe that she’s busy trying to get her degree. Until then, you can still catch up with some the previous posts. They are chock full of useful information about how she visited the City Register and the Department of Finance to dig into the house’s history.
Property Shark shows that the house last sold on March 28, 2008 for $800,000. Since then, it has been demolished. We’ll all be waiting to see how the new owner, Vadem Brodsky, and his architectural firm will make use of that valuable land.
If anyone has any updated information or photographs of any work that may be underway, be sure to shoot our Editor an e-mail.
When did this Medieval-style fortress house get built on the corner of Voorhies Avenue and East 21 Street?
The front of the house doesn’t seem to have any windows to open, but the side of the house makes up for it. It can’t be as Medieval as it looks, though, with two satellite dishes installed on the side.
Lisanne Anderson, whose flickr page catalogs change and development in Sheepshead Bay, shot this photo of the oldest existing church in the area, built in 1869.
I can’t help but love the architecture. They remodeled it in 1925 without ruining its charm. And since most of the buildings east of the church are two or three story late 19th century structures there’s a lot of visible sky.
Recently they did some reconstruction which brought back much of the beauty of the 1925 remodeling. Considering that a few years later the New York Conference was considering closing the church they have made an amazing comeback.