The Brownstone isn’t a brownstone — but has its appeal: architecture review

H Holding Group's building isn't made of stone, although it boasts some nice touches

TRD New York /
Oct.October 13, 2014 05:40 PM

The beloved brownstone — that fixture of 19th-century Victorian New York — remains one of the defining features of the New York cityscape, particularly in Upper Manhattan and Brooklyn. The popularity of the brownstone is so great that, in recent years, some developers have been putting up entirely new ones from scratch, as though a sufficient supply did not already exist. But few developers have gone quite as far as H Holding Group, which just completed a five-story, 28-rental unit building called, appropriately, The Brownstone.

Located at 196 Macon Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the new building is not actually a brownstone. It is far too broad for that, covering as it does the equivalent of three brownstone lots. Also, it is not made of stone.

And yet, given the name of the structure, H Holding has spruced up the The Brownstone’s façade with a fairly accurate version of all the tricks and ornaments of the genre. It has a dramatic cornice, supported by rows of consoles, as well as heavy lintel frames around the windows and triangular pediments around each of its three entrances. Finally, of the 9 bays of windows, three are graced with elaborate iron-work balconies, though these could support a plant, but not a person.

The general impression of the development overshadows the details, however. The building is four stories tall on the sides and five stories tall in the center, but the windows do not quite align, and the cornices on the sides seem to be at war with the windows and cornice of the central fifth story. Perhaps this is to be interpreted as a post-modern or deconstructivist touch of rebellion, but the result simply looks odd and inconsistent.

Still, the building in not without its appeal. Thankfully, the developer also decided to apply the brown stone hue throughout, rather than the two-tone look that was presented in some of the earlier renderings.

Related Articles

The Observation Deck at Hudson Yards (Credit: Adam Pogoff)

Views from 1,100 feet: A tour of Related’s “the edge,” the tallest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere

These are the tallest towers underway in NYC

These are the tallest towers underway
in NYC

A new competition asks what would houses on Mars look like (Credit: Getty Images, Pixabay)

Architecture’s final frontier: Here’s what houses on Mars might look like

From left: Adamson Associates' Alan Tearle, Handel Architects' Gary Handel, Aufgang Architects' Ariel Aufgang (Credit: Getty Images, iStock, Adamson, Aufgang)

These architects designed the most new dev in NYC this year

A rendering of Two Trees' Williamsburg project designed by Bjarke Ingels (Credit: BIG)

New York’s most buzzworthy designs of 2019

Stanford White

The great works and untimely death of New York architect Stanford White

Rendering of 5 Fox Run Lane in Greenwich

Top Greenwich architect denies accusations of recycled renderings

Comptroller Scott Stringer (Credit: Getty Images)

City slow to spend $15B in Superstorm Sandy aid: Stringer