The conversion of a reinforced concrete structure dedicated for the storage of munitions at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to serve as the Headquarters for the Yard’s Development and Management Corporation posed both aesthetic and operational challenges.
The contemporary workplace demands an environment conducive for collective and individual participation by all. The commanding view of the former United State Navy Shipyard together with its Manhattan backdrop were presented as extensions of the Development Corporations offices on the eighth floor of their newly renovated building Number 77.
While one would consider the loft-like qualities of the former munitions’ storage building valuable for office use, close examination showed a restrictive floor-to-floor height and non-existent environmental support, the building lacked building services necessary for the contemporary workplace.
Finding space between the floors, and walls, of the building, for organizing the utilities usual to the workplace proved a challenge similar to the design of a warship’s hold; electrical and communication services, fresh air, heating and cooling, ambient and task lighting, sprinkler and fire alarm, sound suppression and control services were all tightly managed in a dedicated “thin” services layer hung from the existing structural concrete ceiling. An investigation of the concrete floor slab prohibited trenching.
Program teams were arranged according to their activities, with departments requiring privacy and security housed in spaces close to the building core. Spaces hosting collective efforts were presented in floor-to-ceiling glass-enclosed conference rooms, with informal meeting areas at the perimeter.
Workspace furnishing; desks, file, and break-out tables were oriented to create an alternative “other” workspace, encouraging cross-departmental collaboration.
Departmental territories were identified by shared conference rooms named after warships built at the Yard.
Our project set a “building standard” for future tenants of the Yard.
Our spartan interior and project organization suggest a design strategy that avoids obsolescence, by design.
Additional Credits: Laurie Hawkinson Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects LLP, Alex Mann Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects LLP, Galen Pardee Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects LLP, Henry Smith-Miller Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects LLP, Claude R. Engle, IV Claude R. Engle Lighting Consultant, Alex Cornhill Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects LLP
Credits: - Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects LLP - Partner - Laurie Hawkinson - Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects LLP - Partner - Henry Smith-Miller - Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects LLP - Galen Pardee - Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects LLP - Alex Mann - Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects LLP - Alex Cornhill - Claude R. Engle Lighting Consultant - Claude R. Engle, IV