Bjarke Ingels’ Checked Design Swoops Like a Rollercoaster Between Batcave and Whole Foods

Designed by prominent Brooklyn architect firm Bjarke Ingels Group, a statement-making concept for a new apartment building intended to take advantage of the controversial Gowanus rezoning will be tiered like a wedding cake, with walkable ramps and a waterfront park. The project — which includes a terrace with a sculpture by Brooklyn artist WhIsBe, spots where the public can take in the views, and educational programming — aims to turn the area into a neighborhood destination.

Located at 175-225 3rd Street in Gowanus — next to Powerhouse Arts in the Batcave and across the street from Whole Foods — the 20-story complex is slated to have 375 apartments, retail on the ground floor, and parking for about 100 cars, a March application for a new building permit shows. Developer Aby Rosen of RFR Holding had previously been trying to sell the site since buying it in 2018 from SL Green and Kushner Companies for $115 million, The Real Deal reported at the time.

Rending of 175 3rd Street seen from the 3rd Street Bridge

Rendering of the back of 175 3rd Street as seen from the 3rd Street Bridge

A detail of the grassy ramp that will ascend the building and connect it to the publicly accessible green space below

While the new building permit has not yet been issued, the company does have permits for excavation and foundation work, including piles. The state will have to approve a Hazardous Materials Remedial Action Work Plan for the site before construction can start, DOB documents show. A visit today showed the site continues to be used by Verizon for parking and still contains a one-story brick building on the canal side and a 1.5-story metal warehouse at the corner of 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue.

Although the bulk of the low-income affordable housing included in the rezoning is slated for the polluted Gowanus Green site, other new housing permitted by the rezoning will include affordable units under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program. Options for developers include 20 to 25 percent of apartments affordable to households at or below 40 to 60 percent of Area Median Income, currently $48,040 and $72,060 for a household of three, respectively.

The property at the corner of 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue today


The site viewed from the 3rd Street Bridge today, with Powerhouse Arts in the foreground

outside of the bat cave

Another view from the 3rd Street Bridge today

Renderings show a building tiered like a wedding cake, each tier a slightly different shape, creating curving asymmetrical shapes set off by faceted edges. Walkable grass-edged ramps connecting terraces zig zag up and down the exterior of the building, creating an impression of motion. The swoops and lines of the ramps and the overall shape of the building resemble a rollercoaster.

The drawings also show huge windows recessed in weathered steel frames, forming a checkerboard pattern on the façade. The reddish tones of the steel and colored concrete reference the area’s brick buildings, according to the architect’s site.

Diagram of park at 175 3rd Street

A diagram shows the publicly accessible park, Slope Park, that gives required access to the waterfront

Rendering of ramp ascending building

The ramp with greenery will ascend the building

The development will include publicly accessible walkways, green space, and access to the canal, as well as educational programming, light industrial, and co-working office space, according to the designer. Renderings depict views from the ramp and terraces, one of which contains a sculpture of a gummy bear wearing a Department of Corrections ID by WhIsBe (short for What Is Beauty). “The project aims to play a significant role transforming Gowanus into an active destination to bridge the Brooklyn communities of Carroll Gardens and Park Slope,” says the firm’s website.

Rendering shows waterfront park

The publicly accessible park will connect with the rear of the building

The building seen from ground level

The Bjarke Ingels Group started in Copenhagen and has designed projects all over the world, including apartment buildings in Hudson Yards and along the Highline in Manhattan. The firm recently moved its New York offices to Dumbo, and its Brooklyn projects include a sound stage in Red Hook, a rooftop addition to the Hotel St. George Tower in Brooklyn Heights, Two Trees’ massive River Ring in Williamsburg, and an innovative proposal for running a portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway under parkland. We have reached out to the developer and architect for comments.

A walkway between Powerhouse Arts and 175 3rd Street

A terrace with a city view and a sculpture by Brooklyn artist WhIsBe

A view taking in Red Hook and the tip of lower Manhattan

In Brooklyn’s early days, the once-marshy area near what is now the intersection of 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue was home to a water mill and pond, and part of where the Battle of Brooklyn was fought. More recently, Verizon has been using the property to park its trucks. Before Kushner and LIVWRK purchased it for $34.36 million in 2014, it had been in the same hands for more than 60 years.

the exterior of the coignet stone building

The landmarked Coignet Building and Whole Foods across the street today

view of Gowanus

The site in December 2022

[Renderings by Bjarke Ingels Group | Photos by Susan De Vries]

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