Open for Business
If ever New York has seen a transformation, it's in Bushwick.
Annie Block -- Interior Design, 9/1/2011 8:08:00 PM
If ever New York has seen a transformation, it's in Bushwick. The Brooklyn neighborhood got its name from a Dutch word for forest. Soon cleared for farmland, the area was a stronghold of industry and affluence by 1900, as symbolized by the mansions of brewery owners. By the 1970's, however, Bushwick had declined into a graveyard of abandoned buildings. But thanks to Department of Housing Preservation & Development initiatives and such pioneers as Cayuga Capital Management, transition is in the air. Cayuga has developed two adjoining warehouses on busy Wyckoff Avenue, hiring Andre Kikoski Architect to convert them into the Wyckoff Exchange, a 10,000-square-foot commercial building befitting Bushwick's new arty, edgy buzz.
"We chose Andre because we knew he'd do something unusual but not arrogant," Cayuga principal Jamie Wiseman says. As if on cue, Andre Kikoski admits wondering, at first, How do we create iconic architecture in an emerging neighborhood, without knowing who the tenants will be? He began by hitting the books, notably The Andy Warhol Diaries, since Bushwick reminds him of ‘70's SoHo. He and staff then went out, armed with cameras. "Shoot anything of interest," he told them. When the collage of results coalesced on his studio's pinup wall, it instantly became clear that metal, tough and industrial, should dominate the Wyckoff Exchange facade. But how? While ruminating, he gutted and connected the warehouses to create "white-box retail" for potential tenants. (They're now a wine shop and a health-food store-soon to be joined by Radio Bushwick, a music venue that Kikoski is also designing.)
For the exterior, he decided on Cor-Ten steel bifold doors, a marriage of his favorite material and his intrigue with a system he'd seen at airplane hangars and warehouses. He backed the Cor-Ten steel with stainless and, for texture and rhythm, dotted both layers with laser-cut holes. To avoid being "too orderly for the neighborhood," he explains, he made the holes in the outer layer irregular. Light and shadow now dance magically across a rusty expanse on which, of course, tagging occurs. "But graffiti can be scraped off, and the metal rusts over," Kikoski notes. "It regenerates." Just like the neighborhood.
Photography by Francis Dzikowski/Esto.