The People’s Firehouse used to stand as a beacon to the people Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York. Given the opportunity to breathe life back into this once beloved organization, I designed a project that acknowledges the fateful and charged past, with the new and exciting future. Using materials as the main tool to illustrate this concept, one wing of the firehouse is built in the historic, red brick style genre, popular in Brooklyn, New York. The other wing resembles the shiny new apartment buildings making their homes on the banks of the rivers. Where the two wings meet, a tall tower of eighty feet rises, illustrating how the past and presents styles can collide and knit cohesively into one entity. Within the tower, the space is sculptural and unique only to this particular firehouse. Within each wing, there is a specific organizing grid to define the spaces within. The tower benefits from the meeting of both organizing grids, furthering the message of collision and the two wings working together as one. The red brick wing contains most living spaces, while the glass wing is reserved for fire company activities. The organization of the buildings on the site form a frame that naturally encourages both firemen and other building users to migrate to the water. Along the water is a boardwalk like path, sprinkled with several terraces, used for both relaxation or social events if necessary.
Photo Credit: Caroline Wilson
Our site is located in the Greenpoint area more specifically on the Bushwich Inlet in Brooklyn, NY. This area is basically surrounded buy industrial and also residential buildings that shaped the area that we see today. The site is defined, in a clear way, by two main streets of the area (Franklin Street and Quay Street). These two streets create an interesting shape in the site. My proposal is to build a structure along those two roads by emphasizing the intersection, and create pavilion like structures that emerge from this main one in order to create exterior communal spaces. According to the information gathered in the site visit, they want a firehouse that addresses communal activities and interaction between the firefighters and the users.
By emphasizing this void spaces created by the structures, the firefighters and the building users will have spaces for sharing and transitional spaces that connect two main spaces together to provide the feeling of unity. The idea also is create a building that emphasizes these connections by using transparent materials such as glass and other similar products. The courtyard/exterior spaces created will be design in a way that serve, as communal spaces were people could gather around and share.
Training is also an important part of in the process of becoming a firefighter and this aspect will have an important space in my design to emphasize its importance and the idea of good preparation.
From the site of the Bushwick Inlet surrounds a seeming opposition of historic brick clad buildings and new glass encased high towers coexist with little effort. Using the client’s, the People’s Firehouse, intent to reestablish firehouse 212 and the historical ties a units had to its community the new building’s design needed to connect history with modern firefighting conventions.
The apparatus bay, being of the public’s largest interest in fire stations, faces the Bushwick Inlet Park. By situating it between the public Monitor Museum and the private firehouse, the apparatus bay intertwines the two social settings. The museum lines the northern street to pull attention from the southern park and commuters, while the formerly segregated fire house sits further within the park for proximity to the water’s edge for shore fire rescues and to engage the community as pedestrians cross between the building and its dock.
The form frames the existing corner created by intersecting streets to act as an intermediary between the park and urban conditions. The bay also acts as a transitional form for the public by utilizing the truss height required for the large span as a path for people to go from the museum to the firehouse, enabling both programs to unite in one experience.
Using the complex as a transitional space between urban contexts relates to the backdrop of ongoing evolution of the cityscape. The connection is further anchored to the site by the apparatus bay’s intervention between private and public spaces to reintroduce the community to the historical relevance they had on fire station 212.
Photograph by Megan Shrout