9 Facts about Brooklyn’s Tallest Skyscraper

SHoP Architects’ 9 DeKalb Avenue is New York’s latest supertall skyscraper — the first of its kind outside of Manhattan.

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New York is known as a city of supertall skyscrapers; however, until now, the soaring towers have been exclusively constructed in Manhattan. Designed by SHoP Architects and developed by JDS, 9 DeKalb Avenue just supplanted the 720-foot-tall tower Brooklyn Point, becoming the tallest building in the borough. Only buildings that stand 984 feet fall into the “supertall” category. With a projected height of 1,066 feet, the residential tower will be home to 425 rental apartments and 150 condominiums. 

As recent photos are already demonstrating, the growing reinforced concrete superstructure with a unique hexagonal footprint is set to change the urban face and skyline of downtown Brooklyn. The streamline aesthetic of bronze and glass takes cues from the heritage bank building at the foot of the tower. Here are 9 facts about New York’s latest supertall skyscraper — the first of its kind in an outer borough.

Brooklyn's supertall Skyscraper

Rendering by JDS Development via SHoP 

1. Although the plan was first approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission back in 2016, lack of financing and a change of developers delayed the project’s execution. Finally, according to the Wall Street Journal, Michael Stern of JDS Development secured a $664 million loan package, making the supertall skyscraper’s construction possible.

2. The 73-story tower is growing behind the landmarked 1908 Dime Savings Bank, a heritage structure that will be incorporated into the tower. JDS bought the bank for $95 million in 2016; this purchase included the air rights, allowing the developer to transfer an additional 385,000 square feet to 9 Dekalb Avenue. The transaction was predicated on the promise that JDS would restore the historic bank building both inside and out.

Images via Ackerman Development

3. The 1908 Dime Savings Bank building had many lives: it was designed by Mowbray & Uffinger, and then significantly enlarged by Halsey, McCormack and Helmer in 1931-32. Later, J.P. Morgan Chase purchased the building, using it as a bank branch for a number of years. It was officially landmarked in 1994.

Rendering by JDS Development via SHoP

4. As its name implies, the bank originally allowed customers to open a savings account with just a dime. John Halsey is the first known person to make a transaction; he invested $50 and he was certainly not the last. By the end of the bank’s first business day, nearly one hundred more deposits were made. One month later, more than 1,000 accounts had been created.

Image via Ackerman Development

5. When designing 9 Dekalb, SHoP architects significantly drew on the existing landmark structure. Wrapped in glass and bronze, the material aesthetic of the supertall skyscraper were selected from the colorful stone palette on the bank’s interior. Meanwhile, the tower’s vertical facade elements are spaced in to echo the bank’s neo-Classical columns.

Brooklyn's supertall Skyscraper

Rendering by JDS Development via SHoP

6. The tower’s unique hexagonal shape was inspired in part by the irregular footprint of the Dime Savings Bank — and perhaps tile patterns on the interior! Thanks to the facade detailing, when viewed from an oblique angle, multiple sides of the building appear as a single face. From these vantage points, the building nods to iconic art deco classics and early skyscraper design, such as Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building. Such associations are bolstered by the juxtaposition of solid and glazed materials, which harken back to pre-curtain wall construction.

IRendering courtesy of JDS Development via Ackerman Development

7. According to renderings released by the developers, the roof of the bank will be transformed into an outdoor lounge and pool area, which will wrap around the ornate Guastavino dome.

Brooklyn's supertall Skyscraper

Rendering courtesy of JDS Development via SHoP

8. Of the apartments that are for sale in the supertall skyscraper, the lowest floor will still be higher than any penthouse available in Brooklyn. All other residential units will be available for rent; of this stock, 30% of which will be affordable units.

Brooklyn's supertall Skyscraper

Rendering courtesy of JDS Development via SHoP

9. The firm behind the design, SHoP Architects, was founded in 1996 and is based out of Manhattan’s Woolworth Building. This is the firm’s third skyscraper collaboration with the JDS Development.

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