powerhouse arts

Brooklyn, NY | 170,000 SF | Anticipated Completion 2021

The Brooklyn Rapid Transit power station complex was constructed in 1903 to supply electricity to the newly consolidated local railroad, elevated railroad, and street car system. The power station was decommissioned in the 1950s and its Boiler House was demolished. The remaining Turbine Hall deteriorated over the interceding decades, becoming a destination for graffiti artists in the 2000s and known locally as “The Batcave.” In 2012 the site was acquired by the Powerhouse Environmental Arts Foundation, a not-for-profit organization created to redevelop the property and manage operations as Powerhouse Arts.

PBDW and Herzog & de Meuron were hired to restore and revitalize the existing Turbine Hall and design an addition to accommodate the needs of the new institution. PBDW serves as Executive Architect, working closely with Herzog & de Meuron. The goal of this adaptive re-use project is to transform the power station into a fabrication facility for artists in five mediums – metal, wood, ceramic, textiles, and printmaking. The workshops will accommodate professional, teaching, and member users.

The new complex will echo the original power plant in its massing and site usage, including an addition to the Turbine Hall that matches the proportions of the original Boiler House. The structure of the Turbine Hall and many of its interior surfaces (graffiti included) will be maintained and featured in the rehabilitated complex. The top floor of the Turbine Hall will become the Grand Hall, an exhibition space, and event venue.