On November 2, the Urban Design Forum offered an exclusive behind the scenes look at the latest two development sites on the DUMBO waterfront.

Our tour began at Empire Stores, a historic coffee storehouse that Studio V and S9 Architecture are redesigning into a vibrant creative hub. New Forum Fellows and founding partners of S9 Architecture, Navid Maqami and John Clifford walked us through the site and discussed the retention of original features from its construction in the late 1800s: a brick masonry facade, schist structural walls, and heavy frame timber construction.

Then, David Lowin, interim President of Brooklyn Bridge Park, walked us through BBP while describing the details of the public-private partnership that is sustaining BBP, and why this particular partnership was necessary and is extremely successful.

On our final stop of the tour, AJ Pires, new Forum Fellow and President of Alloy, gave us an inside look into One John Street,a new 12-story, 42-unit condominium building that occupies the last waterfront development site in DUMBO. AJ spoke about how this site will be home to an annex of Brooklyn Children’s Museum Studio, restaurants, and retail shops, and will generate essential funds to maintain neighboring Brooklyn Bridge Park through its 99-year ground lease and PILOTs. Further on the tour, AJ described constructing a resilient building on the waterfront, especially after Hurricane Sandy, and their greater design flexibility because the site is on state land, and therefore not subject to city zoning laws.

One John Street

Empire Stores

David Lowin, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Navid Maqami, S9 Architecture, discussing Empire Stores’s role in maintaining BBP

Our Fellows enjoying the stunning view from the top of Empire Stores

Our Fellows reluctantly leaving Empire Stores’s rooftop

The inside of Empire Stores

The inside of Empire Stores

A lovely view from our walk through BBP

A lovely view from our walk through BBP

AJ Pires, Alloy Development, describing the layout of One John Street and its role in maintaining BBP

AJ Pires describing the need to build a structure that matches the world-class BBP

David Lowin describing the details of the public-private partnership between BBP and Alloy

AJ discussing how One John Street is one of only two apartment complexes in the city to be directly adjoined to a park

AJ discussing how One John Street is one of only two apartment complexes in the city to be directly adjoined to a park

A final breathtaking view from the tour