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Bowery Presents: Brooklyn Steel Wins BQDA Brooklyn People’s Choice Award

As the leading promoter of live music in New York City, Bowery Presents sought to expand its roster of performance spaces with the addition of a large venue that could accommodate 2,000 people. After scouring Brooklyn for a site, the perfect space was discovered accidentally. One of the company founders delivered a rent check to a landlord who operated a working steel fabrication plant. The building had ideal concert hall proportions and possessed the genuine industrial feel of its East Williamsburg manufacturing neighborhood.

Well-regarded for providing a great experience to both concertgoers and performers, Bowery Presents sought to transform the building into a world-class destination for music fans. The design brief stipulated functionality, good sight lines, great sound, and a durable, authentic vibe. The renovated 20,000 sf space includes a double-height pre-function area, a multi-tiered, acoustically tuned performance hall with a mobile stage, three bars, multiple green rooms, and ancillary support spaces. Unseen by visitors, a unique green roof system was engineered specifically to mitigate sound transmission outside the building.

The existing gantry cranes, exposed brick, steel structure, industrial windows, and giant ventilation fans were all repurposed in the final design. New materials incorporate a vibrant yellow as a wayfinding element and recalls the very idea of sound itself—the “loud” yellow against the “quiet” of the dark greys and black. Local artists and welders were enlisted to create unique environments in various spaces throughout the venue, which retains a raw industrial quality. The open air entry court was critical in managing the peaks of the audience entering and exiting the venue. It functions as a space for the ticket will-call and entry queues before the show and for friends to rendezvous after the show – providing a buffer to isolate that activity from completely spilling out onto the sidewalk and street. The green roof itself improved the community’s experience of the new venue by isolating the concert acoustics within. Bowery Presents is very conscious of being a good neighbor and performed community outreach at early stages of the project. The result has been satisfied performers and music fans, and sold-out shows since opening.

Brooklyn Steel received the BQDA Brooklyn People’s Choice Award through the AIA. Thank you to everyone who voted!