The Brooklyn Navy Yard, at 300 acres, is a neighbourhood unto itself. A fantastic example of adaptive reuse, the Yard has been transformed from a shipbuilding facility to the hub of NYC’s burgeoning manufacturing sector with major support from the city. Tenants range from Kings County Distillery to Steiner Studios to Brooklyn Grange.
Our first stop was at IceStone, maker of recycled glass and cement countertops. The factory was badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy, but thankfully they are up and running again. A certified B corporation, which means their goal is to benefit society in addition to shareholders, they source materials carefully, provide good wages and benefits to employees, and are working on financial sustainability. Sarah Corey gave us a great tour, during which we saw the counters being poured and vibrated to release the air bubbles. We also got to see some of the new colours they’re adding to the line in the coming months.
From there, despite a detour around Steiner Studios’ maximum security, we arrived Building 2, the amazing space that is home to the modular manufacturer Capsys. Since they basically use the assembly line method (but with full housing units, up to 27′ x 40′!), we saw the process from start to finish, as each stop on the line represents a different trade or moment in construction. Modular building isn’t much different from on-site construction, except it happens in a controlled environment. More importantly, it shaves up to a third or half of the time from the overall schedule, since the prefabrication and site work can happen simultaneously, and many of the inspections are completed at the factory. Thanks to Tom O’Hara for a most interesting tour.
While you can’t just stop by these factories without an appointment, BLDG 92, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center, is open to the public. You can to check out exhibits on the Yard’s incredible past and future as a driver of economic development for the city, as well as the very cool building itself.