The long abandoned former industrial warehouse, Empire Stores was originally built in 1869 to process and store coffee. The site is situated in the Brooklyn Bridge Park between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, and will be home to a number of stores, office spaces, restaurants, a beer garden, and an outpost of the Brooklyn Historical Society. The landscape consists of a 7,000 SF public park, a streetscape with planters, a courtyard, as well as over 28,000 SF of green roof.
The design concept is a formal analog of the relationship between the simple forms and powerful voids that operate at multiple scales throughout the site, from the position of the building between the two bridges, to the hollowed abandoned work spaces. Entering the building from the park, Magnolia trees grow out of the courtyard void, connecting the ground floor to the landscape above. The angular steel planters on the public terrace, inspired by the rip-rap river edge, bend and twist, creating dynamic voids for the different program elements, such as the beer garden and viewing platforms. A metal arbor frames the beer garden, once again creating a striking void with minimal form.