The Future of New York City’s “Architecture Graveyard”

337 Berry Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City’s former “architecture graveyard”

Steven Spielberg’s “Poltergeist” taught us to avoid building houses on graveyards. But what about building houses on graveyards for buildings? According to the New York Observer, the former “salvage warehouse” that once served as storage for New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is now up for redevelopment. The building has an intriguing history, functioning as a storeroom for various architectural remnants collected from abandoned and demolished buildings and saving the relics for resale to new constructions. In 2010, the entire stock of the warehouse was sold due to budget constraints. Rather than demolishing the vacant warehouse (where would those remnants go?), the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (DHPD) have decided to convert the Williamsburg building into 165,000 units of affordable housing. Proposals for the redevelopment are due by August 31 of this year.

It’s encouraging to see the DHPD opt for redevelopment over demolition. What would be even more delightful is if the new housing complex incorporated aspects of the building’s past life, becoming a sort of John Soane-esque, collaged tribute to architectural forms. But maybe that’s just me?

Cross-section of Sir John Soane’s House and Museum, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London

- Kelly Chan