Bricks Return With Type in New Excessive-Finish Buildings

Bricks Return With Style in New High-End Buildings

The masonry has a moment. Perhaps it is a symptom of glass tower fatigue, perhaps it can be attributed to a desire for a building material with warmth and texture. Or maybe it's the strong pull of nostalgia.

Around the city, in TriBeCa, Chelsea, Brooklyn and Queens, on the Lower East Side, Upper East Side and elsewhere, new developments feature brick facades, often with custom-made stones, in some cases with these couture stones that are at eye level are arranged – catch patterns.

Brick, generally red, used to be the material of choice for affordable housing, says Howard L. Zimmerman, head of the architecture and engineering firm of the same name. “Now,” says Mr. Zimmermann, “architects are reinterpreting bricks in high-end projects in terms of style and size, as well as the design of the facade.

The Grand Mulberry in Little Italy, a seven-story, 20-unit residential complex at 185 Grand Street, designed by Morris Adjmi Architects and slated for completion early next year, is clad in custom-made red and orange bricks. The overlay of hand-formed dome-shaped bricks is arranged in a pattern that could have come from a dot matrix printer.

It is a tip of the hat to the Italian aspects on the facades of the surrounding tenements. "There are elements of the bricks we used that are reminiscent of the brickwork on the building across the street and other buildings in the neighborhood," said Brittany Macomber, senior project manager at Morris Adjmi.

Another Adjmi-designed condominium at 45 East Seventh Street, located in a historic neighborhood, also has a masonry facade, in this case buff brick, a pallet choice that the Landmarks Preservation Commission "harmonizes" in its registration certificate. with masonry materials and surfaces of buildings ”in the area. There is a single console at the base of the seven-story building, a double console at the top, and a checkerboard pattern in the center.

Oversized gray bricks pave the Rowan, a six-story, 46-unit residential complex in Queens. Meanwhile, red bricks from renowned Danish manufacturer Petersen Tegl (each brick has its maker's thumbprints) line the facade of 100 Franklin Street, a 10-unit apartment in TriBeCa that was completed last year. Petersen Tegl also supplied the gray bricks for 180 East 88th Street, a 50-story condominium that opened in 2019.

Other brickwork projects: 66 Clinton Street, a 12-unit, seven-story, gray brickwork condominium due to open next year; 40 East End, a 28-unit condominium with gray and charcoal brick patterns that opened in 2019; and Chelsea's Park House, a 10-unit, deep red brick apartment designed by Annabelle Selldorf that is nearing completion.

Long considered a symbol of homeliness, bricks have gone in and out of fashion, according to Andrew S. Dolkart, Professor of Monument Preservation at Columbia University. “The heyday of brick use was the 1880s. Bricks fell a bit out of favor at the beginning of the 20th century, ”said Mr Dolkart. But then, in the 50s and 60s, “the white brick became popular.

“I've seen a return to the use of clay masonry in recent years,” he continued. "I think there is a reaction to the homogeneity of the homes that have been built in Long Island City: glass, glass, glass."

In fact, glass is typically the least economical facade material and brick the most cost effective, said Joe McMillan, chairman and CEO of DDG, the real estate investment firm behind 180 East 88th Street and 100 Franklin Street. "But that's when you use standard stones," he continued. "After installation, the bricks we used were three to four times more expensive than standard bricks because they were custom-made."

Context is a big driver. For the more skilled architects and builders, the goal is not to slavishly imitate the historical architecture of the surrounding buildings, but to be part of the neighborhood.

“You want to be respectful. You use materials that were used in the area, but maybe you have some innovation, ”says Leonard Steinberg, broker at Compass real estate company, which does the marketing for Park House. For example, the base of the buildings is in the style of brick that is likely seen on classic townhouses, but if you look a few floors up, the brick is glazed.

Similarly, there were many other masonry buildings near Rowan, "and the builder wanted something that would appeal to the environment but also be transformative," said Wayne Norbeck, partner at the DXA Studio architecture firm that designed the building . Thus the horizontal and vertical pattern of the masonry.

But for Mr. Norbeck and others there is more at work here than the politics of good neighborliness. "I think there is a connection to humanity with bricks," he said. "It's an old material, and it's so big that a single bricklayer can put it up."

Mr. McMillan put it more simply: "We wanted to give the old bricklayer a hint."

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