One of the more notable architectural eyesores in my neighborhood is the Brooklyn House of Detention, a big ol’ urban jailhouse that’s been sitting empty, sans criminals, since 2003. Just a few days back, New York City decided to reopen the 759-bed jail much to the dismay of folks living in the area who had high hopes for the building's redevelopment. Judy Stanton of the Brooklyn Heights Association tells The New York Times: “It’s nobody’s favorite neighbor. People who occupy apartments and houses nearby don’t enjoy looking down from their windows at prisoners in shackles and police cars and buses with wire.”
Ugh. The city’s decision to reopen the Brooklyn House of Detention is a real shame because one of the redevelopment concepts from Rogers Marvel Architects (one of the firms behind the Governors Island redesign) is a true doozy: The Brooklyn Yard-Scraper.
The Brooklyn Yard-Scraper concept, which I assume has been scraped for the time being, is totally audacious and totally green. The plan calls for a solar-powered, mixed-use development complete with vertical farms, garden terraces, and a tower of residential brownstones that, as Inhabitat puts it, are “stacked one upon another and oriented in such a way to maximize airflow and interior light distribution, reducing the dependency on energy-hungry mechanical systems.” The lower, non-residential levels of the Yard-Scraper would house a public school, The Brooklyn Library of Science and the Environment, the Institute for Urban Sustainability, and plenty of public green spaces.
Take a look at the renderings of the Brooklyn Yard-Scraper below. Pretty wild, eh? Even though the Brooklyn House of Detention plan is off for the time being, I'd love to see this concept applied elsewhere in Brooklyn ... there's certainly more than a couple ugly vacant buildings to go around.