Project DescriptionFROM THE ARCHITECTS:
Jorge Mastropietro Architects Atelier, an architecture, design-build, and development firm specializing in energy efficient residential design, recently revealed the design for its new five-story multifamily building in Brooklyn. The 50-foot-tall building features a layered glass and wood façade and a wood frame. Inside, this 5,200-square-foot project will have four condominiums with two bedrooms each, averaging about 1,300 square feet. A duplex is planned for the cellar and first floor. This project, self-developed by JMA, is also the latest addition to the firm’s deep portfolio of green design, and features passive design principles like triple-glazed windows and mechanical sunshades.
Setting Precedent, Respecting Surroundings
Located on a 20-foot-wide lot on 16th St. near the Prospect Avenue R subway stop, JMA’s new project promises to be a precedent-setting one. According to Jorge Mastropietro, AIA, “We tried to anticipate what the neighborhood would be like in five years, while attempting to respect the current neighborhood,” he says. From a design standpoint, Gowanus poses particular difficulty because its mix of light industrial and residential uses means there is no uniformly accepted style. From a development standpoint, the neighborhood offers a challenge because its emerging gentrification leaves some residents resistant to new projects. As Mastropietro explains, JMA sought to address these issues by “creating something unique, something visually appealing that will improve the urban context.”
The resulting design stands out because of its wood framing and extensive glazing but replicates the scale of the surrounding buildings by stepping back at the fifth floor. As project manager Clayton Feurer explains, “Any new building has to be related to its neighbors. The concept was to create a layered façade that provides depth to the street wall. The wood frame accentuates the three upper units while providing a warm contrast to the predominantly industrial neighborhood.” Ultimately, JMA believes that this project will serve as a precedent for architectural development in the area, setting a tone for further development that respects its surroundings and the desires of the real estate market.
Designed and Developed to be Green
Mastropietro and JMA have built their reputation in large part on the seamless integration of green design features into highly livable environments, and the Gowanus project is no different. As with many of JMA’s buildings, this latest is planned with an eye to passive design principles, which embrace the use of natural materials, daylight, and fresh air circulation for sustainability and greatly reduced energy and upkeep costs. In addition to the new project’s wood frame, triple-glazed windows take advantage of natural light while preventing heat loss in the winter and overheating in the summer. How did JMA have the design freedom to integrate these features into the Gowanus project? Mostly it’s because the firm is also acting as its own developer. Mastropietro purchased the 2,500 square foot property last year, giving JMA full design control over the project. It’s a strategy Mastropietro employs often, and one that he believes will be of benefit not only for JMA, but also for the neighborhood as a whole: “We know we are changing the streetscape and we know this is a huge responsibility. We've also learned that units sell more easily when there is good design. Buyers are getting tired of the cookie-cutter developments. There are so many. We tried to do something unique, something that will show our passion for design, for our buildings, for our city.”