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Brooklyn Bridge Park: What a Design by O'Neill McVoy + NVda Says About the State of Architecture

In Mark Foster Gage’s essay “Rot Munching Architects,” published in Perspecta 47: Money, the Assistant Dean of the Yale School of Architecture strove to find meaning in the current design landscape. Taking the essay title from a larger stream of expletives spun across the facade of the Canadian pavilion as part of artist Steven Shearer’s installation at the 54th Venice Art Biennale in 2011, Gage found truth in the vulgarities, arguing that - in a very literal sense - “architectural experimentation has left the building” as the discipline has been made impotent under the hostage of late capitalist ambition.

Last summer, when Brooklyn Bridge Park unveiled 14 proposals as finalists for two residential towers at the park's controversial pier 6 site, you could be fooled into thinking that design is alive and well. A caveat of the park’s General Project Plan (GPP) was to set aside land for retail, residential and a hotel development, in order to secure funding and achieve financial autonomy. The plans had already fueled a decade of legal battles and fierce opposition from the local community, with arguments ranging from the environment, to park aesthetics, to money-making schemes, but last year a bright outcome appeared a possibility, when the park unveiled the competing plans including those by Asymptote Architecture, BIG, Davis Brody Bond, Future Expansion + SBN Architects, WASA Studio, and of particular interest, O’Neill McVoy Architects + NV/design architecture (NVda).

Harbor Pair and Pedestrian Bridge. Image Courtesy of O'Neill McVoy Architects View from Manhattan. Image Courtesy of O'Neill McVoy Architects Garden Spiral Tower. Image Courtesy of O'Neill McVoy Architects Brooklyn Waterfront. Image Courtesy of O'Neill McVoy Architects

West 18th Street / ODA

Recently, we shared ODA’s honorable mention proposal for the National Library of Israel which fosters an open haven for learning and activity.  The New-York based firm is also working on projects a bit closer to home in Manhattan that approach zoning restrictions with an air of optimism.  ODA explained, “We embrace those parameters (zoning ordinances) and use them as the DNA of our buildings. If carefully studied, NYC’s zoning allows for many interpretations that follows logical principals.”

More about the residences after the break.