Herzog & de Meuron transforms derelict Brooklyn power plant into arts centre
Nov 07, 2023
Swiss architecture studio Herzog & de Meuron has completed the restoration and conversion of a power plant on a decontaminated industrial site along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.
After an extensive decontamination project launched by the state government, Herzog & de Meuron was charged with converting the remains of a 115-year-old power plant into an art manufacturing hub, now called Powerhouse Arts. The studio worked with local PBDW Architects, which served as the executive and restoration architect on the project.
The studio took the shell of the one remaining structure on the site and converted it into a six-storey art production centre, keeping details from the original structure in order to respect the history of the site and its industrial landscape.
The power plant, which served the transit system, was decommissioned in the 1950s and later became a spot used by local graffiti artists.
In 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched an initiative to clean up the contaminated industrial site.
The project included the renovation of a brick-clad building called Turbine Hall and the reconstruction of the demolished Boiler House.
Herzog & de Meuron refurbished Turbine Hall and rebuilt Boiler House on the historic foundations.
The Turbine Hall facade kept its masonry and arched windows, typical of industrial buildings of the early 20th century, while Boiler House was given a treatment in red concrete to match the historic brick.
The rebuilt Boiler House was placed behind Turbine Hall and stands taller, making both structures visible from various angles. A vertical service wall connects the two buildings.
Most of the art workshops are stacked along this wall but located at different levels depending on their use.
For example, the wood and metal workshops are located nearer the ground floor, closer to the loading zones, while the ceramic and painting workshops are located higher up, closer to the exhaust outputs.
The mechanical systems and stairwells were also placed along this central plate.
"The consolidation of these vertical elements between the existing and the new building provides additional lateral, structural stability for both buildings and creates the flexibility required for workshop programming within the remainder of the Boiler House floor slab," said the studio.
"Two large bulkhead volumes at the roof express the primacy of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems in the project and recall the historic smokestacks of the original Boiler House building."
The floorplans for the Turbine Hall are wider and hold the largest single space within the building, the grand hall.
Located on the third story, the grand hall features details that illustrate the history of the building, including exposed refurbished steel trusses painted red and graffiti on the exposed brick walls.
The grand hall also has a painted-steel catwalk surrounding the space and is lit by a massive skylight.
The combination of refurbished steel and exposed brick walls layered with graffiti continues throughout the interiors of the restored structure.
Adjacent to the grand hall is a smaller event space in the rebuilt structure. This space reflects the contemporary generation of the Boiler House, with stark white walls and exposed concrete beams.
Parking was included underneath the structure.
Herzog & de Meuron is working on a similar project in San Francisco, transforming an industrial site in the Dogpatch neighbourhood, and recently finished a building for the Royal College of Art in London.
The photography is by Iwan Baan.
Our most popular newsletter, formerly known as Dezeen Weekly. Sent every Thursday and featuring a selection of the best reader comments and most talked-about stories. Plus occasional updates on Dezeen's services and breaking news.
Sent every Tuesday and containing a selection of the most important news highlights. Plus occasional updates on Dezeen's services and breaking news.
A daily newsletter containing the latest stories from Dezeen.
Daily updates on the latest design and architecture vacancies advertised on Dezeen Jobs. Plus occasional news.
Weekly updates on the latest design and architecture vacancies advertised on Dezeen Jobs. Plus occasional news.
News about our Dezeen Awards programme, including entry deadlines and announcements. Plus occasional updates.
News from Dezeen Events Guide, a listings guide covering the leading design-related events taking place around the world. Plus occasional updates.
News about our Dezeen Awards China programme, including entry deadlines and announcements. Plus occasional updates.
We will only use your email address to send you the newsletters you have requested. We will never give your details to anyone else without your consent. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email, or by emailing us at [email protected].
For more details, please see our privacy notice.
You will shortly receive a welcome email so please check your inbox.
You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of every newsletter.
Another Seedbed is a Brooklyn apartment that doubles as a ...
Public furniture design exhibition in Brooklyn highlights ...
Basile Studio enlivens Moxy Williamsburg hotel with ...
Krista Ninivaggi looks to "future rather than nostalgia" for ...
Kith creates "industrial ambiance" for its Williamsburg store
Gluck+ places colourful facades on affordable housing block ...
Adjaye Associates designs Brooklyn community centre to ...
Studio Vural reinterprets Japanese interiors for Warren ...
Visit our comments page | Read ourcomments policyDezeen Debate Dezeen Agenda Dezeen Daily New! Dezeen In Depth Dezeen Jobs Dezeen Jobs Weekly Dezeen Awards Dezeen Events Guide Dezeen Awards China