Connecticut Architect Finds Brooklyn 'Exciting' 5 Major Projects, More Than 300 Units of Housing
By Linda Collins Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BROOKLYN - Most well known for her work on the Newswalk condominiums in Prospect Heights and the 'Bridgefront condominiums in DUMBO, architect Elena Kalman is branching out further into Brooklyn.
Having an "in" with Boymelgreen Developers has presented the Stamford, Conn.-based architect with some “exciting' projects, she told the Brooklyn Eagle in a recent telephone interview. She has designed three of the developer's major Brooklyn projects so far including Newswalk, Bridgefront and Park Slope Terrace – and is currently in the design stage for one more, also in DUMBO.
Kalman considers her chosen field as one of the arts. "Architecture employs the same means of expression as other visual arts: it deals with volume and void, light and shadow~ textures, colors, etc.," she said. There is one important difference, however: "You can walk out of a theater if you' don't like the opera; but once a building is erected, it is there to stay.”
Ncwswalk was a conversion of the old Daily News plant at 700 Pacific St that put 175 luxury condos on the market. Kalman's design elements included restoring the art deco elements on the facade, and creating a new entrance with a garden, a new glass-walled lobby and a mostly glass elevator on the Dean Street side - so the building could open onto a residential street rather than onto the commercial Pacific Street.
Bridgefront is a brand new 10 story "imposing and dignified" building Kalman designed at Main and Front Streets, with 21 high-end units. Kalman said the neighborhood influenced her design of this building. "The Brooklyn Bridge across the street, as well as the views from the upper floors of the water are so special. that we made the oversized windows into the most important element of the facade," she said, adding that they are also modeled to resemble the windows of the surrounding historic factory buildings. Additionally, the design makes both Main and Front Streets look wider and more open as the corner of the building connects them "in a graceful curve," she said.
Park Slope Terrace, at 675 Sackett St., corner of Hoyt Street, is a brand new four story, 220-foot long building designed to visually fit into a neighborhood of existing historic brownstone and brick town houses. "The building facade adulates along the stretch of the street. Projecting angular bays, balconies and recesses create movement," she explained "and help break the long facade into what appears to be individual narrow town houses."
She also designed an 8,000-square-foot roof garden with picnic areas and a children's playground, sunken gardens in back, and she created a fourth-story setback of 15 feet, creating generous terraces for those units.
This project is being developed by Boymelgreen in partnership with Isaac Katan; Corcoran Brooklyn's New Development Group is handling sales and report~ that 33 of the 38 units are already in contract; and the building is not quite complete."
57. Front St. will involve the conversion of an existing seven-story commercial building, adjacent to Bridgefront into 33 residential loft-style condominiums. The building does not have much character. Its brick exterior walls were patched many times, and so its' facade will be changed, Kalman said.
Proposing to make it "visually relate" to the adjacent Bridgefront, the window openings will be extended .to
the floor, new balconies will be added on floors three to seven. The wall wi1l be replaced with artificial limestone and
the first floor will have rough textured stone, similar to that used at Bridgefront. Additionally, large windows will be added on the western side wall to afford views of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan.
The Breakers, at 3112-3144 Emmons Avenue, was called that because “the whole building looks like breakers, or waves," said Kalman. She is also breaking away from Boymelgreen with this one, a project of Yachad Enterprises, with Jacob Pinson as the main partner. Still in the design stage, this is a brand new “over-the-water'' waterfront development with 74 luxury units in three-story town houses and one three story separate apartment building.
Kalman's goals were to create "a neighborhood village" of homes and apartments with views and places for people to congregate; and to include a 60-foot wide visual corridor extending across the entire site from Emmons Avenue to the bay, “opening the view of the water to neighbors walking or driving by along Emmons.".
Additionally, the planned landscaping, with benches and picnic tables, and the marina and boardwalk will create the desired atmosphere of a resort community, according to Kalman.
Celebrating 15 years in the business on her own this year, here is what Kaman says she has learned: “Listen to your clients because they do know what they want because not knowing much about architecture, they can offer the most refreshing ideas, and-because uitimately their program, taste and budget have to be met.
And “do not follow your clients’ instructions too literally because, if they knew how to design they would not hire you, because they may not care but you have to address the context -whether fitting into it or contrasting is-a choice, but always making an informed design decision based on the existing setting of your building is the architect's responsibility - and because you have to live with what you designed, and not make excuses later."
Prior to establishing her own firm, Kalman was a project architect with Preiss Breismeister Coats Architects. She earned her bachelor's degree from the Moscow Architectural Institute and her master's in architecture from the Kiev Institute of Art and Design.