Whose house? Our house!
Brooklyn swept the preservation and city-planning advocacy group Municipal Art Society’s annual architectural design awards last week, bagging seven of the nine honors. Kings County’s domination is no fluke, according to an architecture professor.
“Brooklyn is the new global ground zero for creativity and innovation,” said Frank Mruk, associate dean at the New York Institute of Technology’s school of architecture and design. “It has become a culture unto itself.”
The award for best new building went to the Weeksville Heritage Center, a museum and cultural center in Crown Heights on the site of a 19th-century African-American village, for its new teaching and arts facility.
“With state-of-the art exhibition, performance and educational facilities, and by providing a green oasis for visitors and the local community, the project successfully honors the historic landscape and celebrates the Weeksville Heritage Center’s future,” the Municipal Art Society wrote.
Prospect Park’s new skating pavilion, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside, won best urban amenity. A tight budget and tangles of red tape made the project a challenge for the architects, according to park honchos. But the biggest concern was making something the public will use for generations to come, said project manager Andrew Kim.
“You have to make it function really well. People have to love it,” Kim said about the skating complex. “Hopefully the city will have it forever.”
Other Brooklyn honorees include the community media organization Bric for its Bric House, Brooklyn Bridge Park for becoming Brooklyn’s front yard, and Greenpoint’s Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory, which got an overhaul to serve as internet giant Kickstarter’s new headquarters. Two Brooklyn schools, PS 216 in Gravesend and PS 261 in Gowanus, won awards for environmentally friendly features in their schoolyards.
The litany of architectural plaudits goes to show that Brooklyn is the place to be for all types of creativity, Mruk said.
“[The borough] signifies a hip, modern, trending urban culture. Its influence is everywhere from art, architecture, fashion, design and innovation,” Mruk said. “The future of urbanity makes itself visible first and foremost in Brooklyn.”
Architecture lovers will toast the borough at an awards ceremony on July 31.
“Masterworks Awards” [4 Columbus Circle between Eighth and Ninth avenues in Manhattan, (212) 935–3960, www.mas.or