A waterfront blog about Red Hook, Brooklyn. From Columbia Street to the Van Brunt Stores and from Valentino Pier to Red Hook Rec Center.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A Red Hook proposal - Building a Design District

Okay, I really don't have time to write this today, but I had said that I would post some ideas on how Ikea could be a better neighbor and I never got around to it. I've got a couple of ideas, but I'd like to throw the big one out there first...

A Design District on the Waterfront:

With a broad coalition across public and private lines, I believe we could promote the creation of Design District in Red Hook. Within, and immediately surrounding the neighborhood there are a number of institutions that could come together to form a consortium around home and interior design. With Ikea coming, and Lowe's and Home Depot already here, three of the largest home and interior design retailers are present. In addition, there are a number of small shops in the neighborhood that specialize in wood working, capentry, plumbing, used and refinished furniture, contracting, and marble and glasswork. In addition, one of the locals of the United Brotherhood of Capenters is located right here in the neighborhood. Together these institutions will have a tremendous capacity to make Red Hook a center for home design.

There are two things missing though - an educational element, and public intervention to bring all these actors together. Educational institutions are historically vital for these kinds of districts. They train local workers and entrenpeneurs for the commercial institutions, and they constantly introduce new innovations into the field which keeps the district sustainable. The best educational element would be a two tiered structure. One of the design schools of New York city (the Parson School, the Pratt Institute, the Fashion Institute Technology) should be invited into the neighborhood to establish an university level program in the neighborhood. They should be partnered with a New York City public high school that specializes in furniture, home and design. It may be necessary to create an entirely new school in the neighborhood. The high school would have a two track system. One would be focused on trades and skills, including small business management. By partnering with the local chapter of the Brotherhood of Carpenters, some graduates come out as skilled union members. The second track would focus on directing students toward university design school. Some will go straight to the partner university's program, others will go to other programs. The high school should draw most of its students from Red Hook Houses.

Public intervention will be required to make this happen. The City will have to offer incentives to bring these businesses together. The Deparment of Education will have to participate in organizing the high school. Whichever design college participates will need support to bring a campus to the neighborhood.

A dedicated Design District in Red Hook would make the community more of destination. It would promote practical education, and commercial activity. It would build on characteristics of the neighborhood that are already present. The mixed-used character of the neighborhood will not need to be overwhelmed. Small shops can co-exist with larger businesses and homes.


So that's one big idea for Red Hook. If anyone wants to forward this on to anyone who might get this going, please do!

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's a great idea!
the best idea I've heard in a long time.
no clue how to get it rolling but just keep talking about it.

they say that there's going to be a shortage of skilled tradespeople in the coming decades. what a great idea to start training more young people now. they'll have better paying jobs than us graphic designers :)

there's another neighbor you forgot for your list.
NYTech is also close by on Jay Street. They have lots of classes that are just like what you're talking about, more on the vocational side and less on the design side... but the synergy is fantastic!

keep talking it's a brilliant idea!

Tue Jan 18, 02:20:00 PM

 
Blogger Newkirkistanian said...

Hey, thanks... I hadn't thought of NYTech. They'd be a great partner.

Tue Jan 18, 10:53:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that's a great idea, but you forgot one very important thing: there are many architects living in Red Hook, like me. There is even one architecture firm with offices here. There are also many furniture designers, metal workers, contractors, and many other constructiona and design related professionals living in Red Hook. An architect has the professional experience to coordinate all of these individuals on a larger effort or project.

New York City already has an Architecture and Design high school in Williamsburg, and a school called the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction in Manhattan (whose program sounds a lot like the high school you described). These schools could be a starting point for the educational partnership you suggested.

Also, there are many other colleges with design/architecture programs in NYC area too: Columbia, City College of NY, The New School, NJIT, and others.

I think your idea of a Design District is wonderful and I would like to help you with it. Some other sources for ideas and help could be: The AIA, the Manhattan Institute (http://www.manhattan-institute.org/email/crd_newsletter12-04.html), Brooklyn Borough Pres., and Brooklyn Designs.

My one suggestion is that the partnership program should focus on affordable urban housing using green and alternative building technologies, such as pre-fab housing. Affordable housing is an important issue for Red Hook and other neighborhoods (most of NYC in fact).

Allison Reeves
ahreeves@gmail.com

Fri Jan 21, 01:34:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that's a great idea, but you forgot one very important thing: there are many architects living in Red Hook, like me. There is even one architecture firm with offices here. There are also many furniture designers, metal workers, contractors, and many other constructiona and design related professionals living in Red Hook. An architect has the professional experience to coordinate all of these individuals on a larger effort or project.

New York City already has an Architecture and Design high school in Williamsburg, and a school called the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction in Manhattan (whose program sounds a lot like the high school you described). These schools could be a starting point for the educational partnership you suggested.

Also, there are many other colleges with design/architecture programs in NYC area too: Columbia, City College of NY, The New School, NJIT, and others.

I think your idea of a Design District is wonderful and I would like to help you with it. Some other sources for ideas and help could be: The AIA, the Manhattan Institute (http://www.manhattan-institute.org/email/crd_newsletter12-04.html), Brooklyn Borough Pres., and Brooklyn Designs.

My one suggestion is that the partnership program should focus on affordable urban housing using green and alternative building technologies, such as pre-fab housing. Affordable housing is an important issue for Red Hook and other neighborhoods (most of NYC in fact).

Allison Reeves
ahreeves@gmail.com

Fri Jan 21, 01:36:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops, sorry i posted twice!
allison

Fri Jan 21, 01:37:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I love pre-fab and think it's an idea who's time has come in an urban environment. especially red hook where there are many empty lots.

when i was looking to buy here i was thinking that wouldn't it be great to have a prefab home built in the Navy Yard by http://www.capsyscorp.com/ stick it on a boat and ship it around to red hook, plop it on a truck and drive it down Van Brunt Street. It was a nice fantasy. But they don't do modular for the end user. I think that would make building so much more affordable.

Sun Jan 23, 11:53:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just another idea for funding sources -The Boston Society of Architects gives research grants to architects and other related people for research into urban or architectural issues. The grants are up to $10,000 each. The deadline for this years grants is Feb. 15, 2005. Here's their website: http://www.architects.org/education/index.cfm?doc_id=11
They also have a list of many other grants for urban and architectural research.
allison

Mon Jan 24, 01:16:00 PM

 
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Anonymous combustiblegirl said...

I love this idea and with all that's on the docket in terms of neighborhood revitalization I'm wondering if you've pitched this in anyway to Community Board 6?

Tue Nov 29, 12:53:00 PM

 

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