Dezeen Magazine

Powerhouse Workshop by Herzog & de Meuron

Herzog & de Meuron to transform Brooklyn's "batcave" into creative hub

Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron is set to turn a derelict power station on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn into a manufacturing centre for designers and makers.

Hoping to repeat its success with London's Tate Modern, Herzog & de Meuron plans to overhaul the 113-year-old industrial building that has laid empty since the 1950s.

The Powerhouse Workshop will provide fabrication facilities for metal, wood, ceramics, textiles and printmaking inside the former Brooklyn Rapid Transit Power Station.

The red-brick building was designed by Thomas E Murray and completed in 1904 to serve the newly electrified Brooklyn Rapid Transit lines.

After it was decommissioned, sections including the Boiler House were demolished, while the walls of the remaining structure became a canvas for graffiti artists – who nicknamed it the Batcave in the early 2000s.

Powerhouse Workshop by Herzog & de Meuron

Herzog & de Meuron plans to renovate the large Turbine Hall and reconstruct the Boiler House, creating spaces for flexible workshop configurations to serve Brooklyn's growing number of creatives, as well as events and exhibitions.

"By preserving, restoring and reconstructing essential elements of the original Power Station – some still intact and some long-ago demolished – this design strengthens its relationship to the immediate urban context," said Ascan Mergenthaler, senior partner at the firm.

"The aim is to demonstrate sensitivity to the program by integrating existing layers seamlessly into a functional, modern manufacturing facility."

Construction is expected to begin later this year, with completion projected for 2020. The facility will be operated and managed by the Powerhouse Environmental Arts Foundation.

Powerhouse Workshop by Herzog & de Meuron
The derelict power station became a canvas for graffiti artists, who nicknamed it the Batcave

"Herzog & de Meuron's design approach celebrates the existing iconic Turbine Hall and maximises the potential of the property to ensure its long-term industrial viability," said the foundation's executive director Katie Dixon.

"The restoration and recreation of the former power station maintains a profound connection to its past and establishes the contemporary manufacturing program our institution needs for the future."

Herzog & de Meuron's widely celebrated transformation of the Bankside Power Station in London into the Tate Modern art gallery completed in 2000. The architects later returned to extend the building with a twisting brick structure, which opened last year.

The firm's other projects in New York City include the Jenga-like 56 Leonard tower nearing completion in Tribeca and a curvy residential building underway on Manhattan's West Side.