Tuesday, January 10, 2012

7 Story Building Planned for Columbia Street

An application for a new 7 story building at 255 Columbia Street (the former furniture store) has been filed at the Department of Buildings.  The proposed building will reach a height of 70 feet and contain 13 apartments.  The designer's blog includes a brief description of the building and an image of the street front. [Update 1/14/12 - the image on the designer's blog has apparently been removed].

Although we applaud the developer's commitment to constructing to Passive House standard, we are displeased with lack of sensitivity to the character of the neighborhood the image of the project reveals.  Our hope is that the drawing is a very early sketch and that further refinement of composition, proportions, and detailing is forthcoming.  As it is presented, this structure unfortunately resembles many of the mediocre contemporary infill buildings scattered throughout Williamsburg.

We welcome responsible development in our neighborhood and the influx of new residents who will be customers for our local businesses.  We urge the developer of this project to demand of his designers a more sophisticated design.  One that evinces a sensitivity to context and demonstrates an understanding of the meaningful differences in composition of building elements relative to the street, the property line, the building silhouette.  With a little care, we believe that this site could hold a building that both its owners and its neighbors will love.


  1. I think the design is nice. I own a building around the corner on Summit, and have been eagerly awaiting some action on that crappy building for years. I welcome more people to the area and am also happy with contemporary designs. If this where the Heights, it would be different; that kind of neighborhood had a very specific character. Our neighborhood is a mixed bag of styles already, and no real defined character; I think that a mix of contemporary and old works. I am concerned about the height, I do think that it is too tall, and that is out of character with the area the new building going up on Summit next to Woofs and Wiskers is better scaled for the area, and a great design.

  2. Unfortunately I can't see the image of the proposed design, but I'm familiar with the firm's work and I think they always produce well-designed buildings. I agree with the previous comment that the CW neighborhood is already a patchwork of styles that includes everything from old brick residential to modern industrial. Modern design can (and does) mix well with many different styles. In addition, because of the number of available development sites, I think the CW area is perfect for creating a new "green design" district that would encourage eco-conscious buildings, such as Passiv Haus or Net Zero. Instead of trying to graft some historic character onto the neighborhood, why not strive to create a forward-looking neighborhood that embraces new ideas?