Is 319 Schermerhorn the first hipster building ever? Architecture review

Residential development on corner of Nevins Street to embrace Brooklyn (BK) cool

Aug.August 22, 2014 03:10 PM

Perhaps it is my over-active imagination, but I do believe that Schermerhorn, a new development planned for Brooklyn, may just be the first hipster building ever created. Why it should be the first — that is, why it should have no antecedents — is not difficult to figure out. Hipsters tend not to build things, certainly not buildings. Furthermore, the hipster generation is still too young to be developers, even if they wanted to be. And so, one way or another, there are no hipster buildings.

But a youngish firm that goes by the name of Incorporated has just been tasked by a developer, SC Nevins LLC, to design a 65 unit, 18 story residential structure to rise at 319 Schermerhorn Street, at the corner of Nevins Street. According to Incorporated’s website, the new building will respond to the “Brooklyn (BK) context.”

The firm seems to have some affinity for contextualism, since the only other building they have designed in New York to date was the Park Columbus at 87th and Columbus Avenue (2006), which was highly contextual, with its brick and metalwork accents. That, however, was a reworking of a pre-existing building, whereas Schermerhorn will be this firm’s first New York City building created from the ground up.

Though the firm had wanted handmade brick for its newest project, that proved too costly. Instead, the designer has settled for bricks that have an artisanal feel to them. These bricks, in several tones of brown, will clad a rectilinear but somewhat irregularly shaped structure that will rise over a one story glass base. It will have an abundance of balconies with rich wooden accents scattered about.

But the most striking thing about the façade will surely be the mottled, slightly discolored effect of the brickwork, which will impart an air similar to that of pre-distressed jeans, a first, I believe, in an architectural context.

And so, as soon as the building exists, it will look slightly grungy and run down. If the building were a person, it would be sporting a two day growth of beard. But if the building seems calculated to appeal to the hipster demographic, it is worth noting that few if any of them will ever be able to afford any of its stylishly down-trodden units that will soon be coming on the market.

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