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B12 condo tower emerges, 278 feet, with huge units, dwarfs neighboring buildings, but materials aim for context

At the periodic Community Update meeting Wednesday night, Greenland Forest City Partners unveiled the design for the B-12 tower, 615 Dean Street, one building in from the 550 Vanderbilt tower at the southeast corner of the site, which is Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street.

Notably, 615 Dean is the tallest but not the bulkiest building among the four on the southeast block, rising 278 feet (the maximum height is 287 feet, so we'll see if that's met) and encompassing 321,000 gross square feet, including two retail spaces ofr 4,000 and 1,000 sf. (The maximum square footage is 317,185, but some flexibility is allowed as long as total is capped.)

Via New York YIMBY
By contrast, the 550 Vanderbilt condo tower maxes at 202 feet and 330,778 square feet, and the 535 Carlton affordable rental tower, at the corner of Carlton Avenue and Dean Street, maxes at 184 feet and 283,971 sf.

Notably, 615 Dean Street, with about 250 units, would have huge apartments, each averaging larger than 1,200 square feet. As a commenter on Brownstoner wrote, "how do you spell L.U.X.U.R.Y.?"

Josh Chaiken
The building does try, as KPF architect Josh Chaiken explained, to take context from both the residential/industrial block of Dean Street across the street as well as the towers bookending the block, designed by CookFox.

That means use of brick at the Dean Street facade and industrial precast concrete on other segments, which are bunched in three story segments, set back from Dean Street behind a 60-foot street wall. (That's the street wall of the other buildings.)

Among other things, Chaiken--a Park Slope resident--has designed a huge tower in Shanghai, the centerpriece of the Roppongi Hills project in Tokyo, and 50-story Ritz-Carlton hotel and condominium tower in Toronto.

Below is his slide presentation, posted by Empire State Development, which told me yesterday it would be posted that morning (but came a day late).

Sussing out the site

Chaiken said that the site differed from the other two nearby sites because it's midbock, and "three of the facades of the building are in the park." (He continually used the inaccurate word "park" to describe the privately-managed, publicly-accessible open space.)

He said that "we wanted to draw on the scale and quality of the brownstone street" and "wanted to reference some of the great older industrial buildings in Brooklyn." At the same time, given the size of the building, they aimed at a "sculptural quality" to break up the bulk into sections, with vertical and horizontal blocks.

B12 is second from right. B11 is at right, B14 two buildings west of B12

Along Dean Street, "we were trying to break the scale down with these vertical elements," he said, "reflecting the scale and rhythm of the street."

The entry to residences will be under a canopy at the western end of the building, with two retail segments to the east, punctuated by a ramp to a below-ground parking garage. There's a "secondary entry on the park side," he said.

550 Vanderbilt, aka B11, tilts into distance
Only when questioned did Chaiken and representatives of Greenland Forest City clarify the building's height and bulk.

Clarity and context

Dean Street resident Peter Krashes, who noted he lives across the street, said, "First, I want to thank you for showing a presentation that appears to have a true sense of scale to it."

In some other presentations, he added, "the scale is not apparent relative to the existing community. Y’know, it’s very difficult to do… I don't look at the building illustration and think it is apologizing for the scale by hiding that. And I want to thank you for that."

(As Krashes spoke, Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton smiled a bit sardonically.)

Indeed, I've suggested that the 550 Vanderbilt tower, rendering at right, was skewed to diminish the size.

"I think that's why people are asking about the scale," Krashes continued. "It's also the first [time]  that we've actually seen what all of Dean Street looks like... we have not seen what the CookFox buildings look like from Dean Street... which I think is something the developer can correct."

There will be 860 parking spaces underground, with the curb cuts near the B12 (615 Dean) and B14 (535 Carlton) sites.