Perfectly situated but notoriously maligned, the Gowanus canal borders the vibrant Brooklyn neighborhoods of red hook, park slope, and Carroll gardens. As a result of heavy industrial pollution, the canal took on an iridescent purple sheen gaining it the nickname “lavender lake.” The canal, active since the seventeenth century, served as a hub for barge reliant manufacturing. during the beginning of the twentieth century, the canal emerged as the busiest commercial waterway in the United States due to its fortuitous proximity to Manhattan. Over the last 150 years the canal has collected sewage, storm water, pollutants, fuel oil, and scrap metal making it a highly toxic body of water. Most industry abandoned the area in the late 1950’s leaving the polluted canal lined with derelict warehouses and scrap heaps. At the end of several dead end streets, the canal also became a popular dumping ground for illicit waste and bodies. The last few years has seen renewed interest in reviving the area and dredging the canal as the bordering neighborhoods have filled and now bustle with activity. Gowanus has seen a rise in action over the past twelve months with the opening of bars [bar tano], music venues [the bell house], outdoor event spaces [the yard] and artists studios [brooklyn artist gym and the sweater factory].
As the EPA and New York City wrestle over whether or not gowanus will be designated as a superfund site, this competition proposes a new artists factory for the “public place” site. The proposal will be designed to both foster creative production and attract visitors to the factory and neighborhood. The factory will contain private/shared art studios, a storefront gallery/bar, analog/digital shops, and live/work spaces for rotating artists in residence. Both the interior and exterior realizations of the project should rethink the white boxes of modern art work and display spaces and conceive of a sequence of spaces that address the diversity of contemporary art and design at multiple scales. Open spaces and natural light are key components of all programmatic areas. The gallery will display work produced by the resident artists and have openings/events on a weekly basis. The bar will be used to serve these events and also function as a local hangout. The bar/gallery should be designed to accommodate large crowds while at the same time cultivating intimate spaces to be used simultaneously or on non-event evenings. The storefront nature of the bar/gallery should be highly atmospheric and curated in a manner to create a significant street presence on smith street. Artists in residence will rotate on a six month cycle and will be selected based on progressive work at the forefront of art and design at any given moment. as a transient resident, their live/work spaces will require work, living and sleeping spaces as well as a bathroom and a kitchen. The space will also be fully furnished in a manner to facilitate multiple lifestyles as well as to stimulate work flow. These should be unique spaces displaying current forms and technology available in the architectural world as a means of inspiration for the visiting artists. As a “public place” site, the original goal of the site was to serve as a public space for the community. This should remain a requirement in the careful design and consideration of the outdoor space of the site as an additional programmatic piece of the project. It should be assumed that the environmental remediation of the site will be completed by key span prior to the start of construction. In addition to the significant street presence of the site, the entire project also has the unique position of being viewed from the elevated subway line bordering the site. This subway line serves thousands of passengers per day traveling between the affluent neighborhoods of park slope and carroll gardens. From this vantage point, the entire building can be viewed and act as an advertisement. The factory should exploit this condition by employing compelling facade, roof, and overall forms which can be visually arresting from the street as well as the air.
Register by: 09-21-2009 / Submit by: 09-28-2009