OwnerPratt Area Community Council
Executive ArchitectCurtis + Ginsberg Architects
Structural EngineerGace Consulting Engineers
MEP EngineerRodkin Cardinale Consulting Engineers
Environmental ConsultantsSteven Winters Associates
Text description provided by the architects. Navy Green Supportive Housing is a model supportive housing community comprised of 97 single-occupancy units for chronically homeless adults with mental illness, with onsite social services and a lively array of communal spaces. The building is the proud beacon of the Navy Green development - a 458 unit, mixed-use project comprising almost an entire city block between the Brooklyn-Queens expressway and the Brooklyn Navy Yard on land which once housed the Navy Brig detention facility. It was awarded to the design and development team in a New York City Housing Preservation & Development RFP in 2007. The project represents a true community effort in which the local Brooklyn non-profit developer and architect of the supportive housing engaged the local community with charettes during the planning process, whose results helped define the larger LEED ND master plan and the supportive housing building itself. The master plan is unique, in that it clusters four mid-rise towers (market-rate, affordable, and supportive) and low-rise market-rate multi-family townhouses around a central, shared communal ‘green’ which serves as an urban oasis with planted gardens, playground and seating in a part of the city where green open space is a luxury. The variety of housing types and demographics reflect the variegated fabric of New York City’s population and offer significant affordability with rental apartments to market rate homeownership opportunities. Navy Green Supportive Housing is integrated into a new and vibrant effort to revitalize a part of Brooklyn that had deep connections to the city’s historic maritime heritage and current creative industries, the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And in this case, the NGSH building has brought value and a source of pride to the development and surrounding neighborhood.
The building is also source of comfort and pride for the formerly homeless individuals and fosters a unique sense of community amongst the residents, the rest of the Navy Green community and the neighborhood and city at large. It dialogues with its gritty neighbors, embracing the vibrant cultural diversity of this slice of industrial Brooklyn, and presents a strong sense of identity to the street, freeway, and city. The bold, multi-hued, red-corrugated metal panels wrap the front and side facades as a wink to the steady stream of taillights on the expressway, and a nod to the patchwork of red brick brownstones opposite. The structural system is block and plank, while typical of a supportive housing project due to its efficiency and cost, the simple move made by rotating the block perpendicular to the street wall created a non-load bearing facade, thus allowing for the animated expression of the portrait and landscape windows within each unit.
A light-flooded, double-height entry invites one in from the street: a welcome mat at urban scale. This open volume bridges the streetscape to the communal ‘green’ via the “ramphitheater”. At its pragmatic essence, the raked, ramped ampitheater serves as an ADA accessible ramp connecting the street sidewalk level to the communal green. For residents of all abilities, the space is a welcome area to rest, gather, and view their community - celebrating the theater of everyday life. And from still another point of view, the long, steady slope realizes a smooth resolution from street to home for the primarily frail population. To foster a healthy community at as many junctures as possible, we carved out a variety of places for people to congregate (ramphitheater and community meeting room), recreate (communal green rear courtyard), and ambulate (vibrantly painted fire egress stairs with windows to exciting views, and animated and naturally lit corridors encouraging physical fitness).
There was a commitment to deploying inventive, thoughtful design at all scales. Varying and inviting colors and super-graphics announce each floor and apartment unit. Within the units careful attention is paid to detail at kitchenette with integral eating and writing surface, bathroom, to sturdy well-designed furnishings by the flat-pack furnishings company Blu-Dot. Emeco’s classic Navy Chair, made with recycled Coca-Cola bottles gives a nod to the site’s naval roots. 100% of the units are adaptable with a higher number of ADA accessible units than city regulations mandate.
Sustainability is prevalent in the building as it has been NYSERDA Certified, and would have at minimum surpassed LEED Silver. However, the costs associated with LEED certification was instead spent on FF &E. Green building elements include: masonry block that is a recycled supplementary cementitious material derived from post-consumer recycled glass – 97% locally sourced / Polystyrene insulation on the exterior foundation and cavity walls / Boiler located on roof/ Energy Star performance thresholds for appliances, HVAC, lighting, and triple pane windows / Low-VOC interior paints and emission free MDF woodwork / Low-flow shower heads and toilets / Recycled content laminates and linoleum flooring / White roofing system reducing heat transfer to the building.