This week, Gensler principals Robert Fuller and Amanda Carroll revealed the firm’s nearly completed revitalization of a former Jehovah’s Witness complex in Brooklyn for Columbia Heights Associates, a joint venture of CIM Group and LIVWRK. Located at the Northwest edge of Brooklyn Heights, Panorama, the name of the commercial development, comprises five interconnected buildings: a pair of 12-story concrete structures originally designed by Russell and William Cory for Squibb Pharmaceuticals (one of them with a 1980s steel addition), and three smaller Civil War-era brick and timber buildings.
As reimagined by the architects the complex will accommodate a variety of potential programs: a campus for a single tech company or offices for several creative businesses, in addition to restaurants, shops and other amenities, such as a fitness center.
The design team, which the includes the New York City-based landscape architecture firm Terrain, created gracious new entrances with spacious wood-clad lobbies, and they opened the previously dark, carved-up interiors, removing film from windows, punching fenestration into blank facades and breaking through dropped ceilings to reveal skylights and clearstories. The generous properties now offer 635,000 square feet of day-lit workspace, 55,000 square feet of terraced and street-level outdoor areas, and 130 on-site parking spaces. An additional 35,000 square feet are planned for retail and 15,000 for hospitality venues. Dark-fiber internet connectivity throughout the project will fast-forward the old buildings to fulfill 21st century requirements.
The views of lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge are spectacular, as are the stripped-down, industrial-style floor plates with exposed structures, fluid interconnectivity within the properties and access to fresh air. It won’t be long before a gracious stair to the street at the rear of one of the older buildings will welcome the community (and tourists) to sit or visit shops on the second level or even snap a selfie on a cantilevered platform that hovers above the landing and provides panoramas of the waterfront and beyond. Panorama will be completed, and ready for tenants, fall 2019.