Media lab at Red Hook Recreation Center gets $100,000 upgrade

red hook recreation center media lab
The media lab at the Red Hook Recreation Center is newly outfitted with computers, new software, and other tech.
Photo courtesy of Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

The Red Hook Recreation Center has received another major upgrade in the form of a newly-enhanced media lab, which the city’s Parks Department unveiled on Monday. 

Designed for Brooklynites to explore tech, art, and more, the media lab is newly kitted out with a sound-insulated booth for recording and audio production, Mac Minis equipped with software for photo and video editing, graphic design, and audio production, DSLR cameras, iPads, and additional computers for regular use and internet access.

person in sound booth at red hook recreation center media lab
The media lab now features a sound-insulated booth for audio recording and production. Photo courtesy of Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

A newly-hired Media Education Instructor will work in the media lab teaching media skills and helping Brooklynites make use of all the new tech, according to the parks department. 

The upgrade was funded by a $100,000 donation from online retail giant Amazon, which runs three warehouses in Red Hook.

“We are thrilled to partner with NYC Parks to bring to life this media lab that will benefit members of the local community in Red Hook and beyond,” said Carley Graham Garcia, head of Amazon community affairs in New York, in a statement. “We are particularly proud that our donation will help the youth who may not otherwise have access to these great tools, as they hone their skills to become the next generation of leaders in Brooklyn.”

people use computers at red hook recreation center media lab
The lab also features computers available for public use. Photo courtesy of Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

Amazon — which began its move into the nabe in 2020 — has been heavily scrutinized by the community for bringing increased truck traffic and emissions to Red Hook. Local politicians and business leaders have urged City Hall and Albany to crack down on “last-mile” warehouses in the nabe. 

In a letter to Mayor Eric Adams last year, the Red Hook Business Alliance said last-mile warehouses like Amazon’s had increased pollution and noise in the area, and that the construction of new facilities — which sometimes meant taking down historic buildings — had worn down the “sense of place” in the area.

The company has funded several local initiatives since it opened its Red Hook warehouses — for the past two years, the company has sponsored a rec basketball league for children living in Red Hook Houses, and helped to fund the RETI Center barge.

The upgraded media lab at the Red Hook rec center is publicly available for all New Yorkers with rec center memberships — and is available for free for locals under age 25. 

“With this wonderful media lab, we’re expanding opportunities for Red Hook residents of all ages to develop vital digital media skills at a place they already know and love,” said Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “Our recreation centers aren’t just great for working up a sweat – they’re beloved community spaces where New Yorkers can explore their interests, gain new skills, and connect with their neighbors.”

entryway at red hook recreation center
The city is planning an additional $121 renovation of the rec center. Photo courtesy of Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

After a period of time where Red Hook faced a dearth of recreation opportunities, things are looking up for the nabe — the media lab renovation came about a year after the rec center’s gym got a $115,000 renovation courtesy of an anonymous donor, and two years after four of the infamous Red Hook ball fields reopened after a much-needed environmental cleanup.  

And that’s not all — the Parks Department is in the midst of a $137 million renovation of the ball fields, and is planning a $121 million overhaul of the rec center itself. With design set to begin this summer, the department said the renovation will improve the rec center’s pool and programming spaces and make the building — which was badly damaged in Hurricane Sandy — more resilient against future floods and storms.