Every aspect of our design approach to the Rockaway-Chester site [Site A] of HPD’s RFP for Brownsville development fully embraced the designation by New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development as the new home for Arts and Culture in Brownsville, and the vision stated in the Brownsville Plan of realizing the neighborhood’s potential to become a major hub for the arts and culture in East Brooklyn.
The Rockaway, two residential buildings, one for families and one for seniors, flank a central pedestrian plaza, the artery through our site that provides accessible public space, ample sunlight, landscaped and paved gathering spaces, and a flexible stage upon which cultural and arts programming can co-exist with unplanned circulation. RockArts is a community facility that promotes and supports arts and cultural activity in Brownsville, located in the Multi-family building and designed to meet the cultural needs of the community. The site confronts the boundaries of accessibility on all levels, celebrates simultaneity, blurs the lines of public and private and creates a lively, safe, and flexible space unique to the neighborhood and allowing the creative merging of the programs of existing and potential future cultural partners.
In order to achieve these goals in a way that sustainably nurtures and showcases the cultural assets of the Brownsville community, we focused on creating performance, rehearsal, and exhibition spaces that are highly visible through glazing and prominent public locations along the street, and literally open up into the neighborhood. Our design also uses the central element of a through-street public plaza to draw the pedestrian community in from all sides. Instead of creating an insulated interior space, we chose to reach out to the larger community by opening the site, as well as the entire block, by extending Glenmore Street from the adjacent NYCHA campus, across Rockaway Avenue, and across our site through an activated public plaza. This opens the site to pedestrian traffic from all sides and establishes a strong connection to the rest of the neighborhood, and the existing NYCHA campus.