When it first opened in 1908, the Dimes Savings Bank of Brooklyn at 9 DeKalb Avenue was among the most impressive structures built in the borough.
The neoclassical structure was the work of the famous architecture team Helmle and Huberty, who also designed the Williamsburg and Greenpoint Savings Banks, and has long been a staple in the rich urban fabric of Downtown Brooklyn.
Over 100 years later, 9 DeKalb is once again at the forefront of construction innovation. The Brooklyn Tower at 9 DeKalb, which is already the tallest structure in Brooklyn, topped off this past week.
Designed by SHoP Architects and developed by JDS, 550 residences—150 residences for purchase and 400 residences for lease—with almost 100,000 square feet of retail at its base. Thirty percent of the rentals are designated as affordable housing.
During a recent visit to the construction site, representatives from JDS Development and SHoP Architects explained the interesting ways the new tower interacts with the century-old bank building, while also carving out its own place in the Brooklyn skyline.
“This is both an interior landmark and exterior landmark space,” explained Marci Clark, managing director of Development and Strategy at JDS. “It was the place where Brooklynites could come and open up an account for just a dime.”
JDS worked alongside the Landmarks Preservation Commission on the project, settling on a design where the new tower shares one wall with the landmarked bank building. The project will also include a full restoration of the Dime Savings Bank, which will be reopened as a commercial space.
“We really specialize in adaptive reuse and discovering the intricacies and complexities of working with historic structures and breathing new life into them,” Clark added. “We are excited to mix this historic building with our new tower.”
Gregg Pasquarelli, founding principal of SHoP Architects, explained how certain elements of the new building were inspired by its neoclassical neighbor.
“The bank and the tower are situated on a triangular site, which is really interesting and rare in New York,” Pasquarelli said. “We looked back to the original bank design and noticed a lot of hexagons to deal with the triangular plot. That’s what we based the design of our building on.
“The entire building is interlocking hexagons,” he added. “No matter where you are, you will be able to see three sides of the building, making it iconic in the skyline.”
Rising 93 stories and topping out at 1,0666 feet, Brooklyn Tower offers panoramic views of Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. The unique six-sided structure also offers views of Governors Island, Statue of Liberty, Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, and Verrazano bridges.
The building is visible from as far away as the Rockaways.
Symbolically, the Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower — which was the tallest building in Brooklyn from 1927 until 2010 — is visible from the top of the Brooklyn Tower.
The honor of tallest building in Brooklyn has changed many times in the past decade as building in the borough has boomed, but the Brooklyn Tower team believes their project is particularly suited to be an icon of the Brooklyn skyline.
“We need to make a building so good that it gives back to the people of Brooklyn,” Pasquarelli said. “Due to the zoning, we realized that this would be the tallest building in Brooklyn. We felt a responsibility to be an icon that people could recognize across Brooklyn’s many street grids.”