Nearly 100 years ago, Building 128 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard was a hub of military innovation —tens of thousands of workers laboring by the water, building parts for ships used in both World Wars. The building just reopened as New Lab, a hub for a different kind of innovation. This 84,000-square-foot space is filled with 350 hardware engineers, designers, and entrepreneurs delving into robotics, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology. David Belt, a real-estate developer who came to the project with his partner, Scott Cohen says,
“This was state-of-the-art in manufacturing when it was built, and we started thinking about what the state of the art in manufacturing is now.”
This is a place where up to 50 companies could rent designated office space under the 70-foot ceilings with tree-dotted, iron-framed, rainbow-colored communal work lounges, and share a full metal-and-wood shop, a 3-D printing lab, and digital manufacturing tools. The combination makes it a Field of (wet) Dreams for any designer lacking the high-tech resources to make prototypes. It’s Soho House meets Brooklyn’s Silicon Valley.
There are still bits of the original Navy Yard history among the futuristic robot prototypes and interactive architectural L.E.D. systems. The giant cranes used to carry ship-engine parts made in the factory are still here but now they hold up a bridge on which engineers in raw denim eat locally sourced food from the café downstairs.
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(Photos, Floto + Warner; via Vanity Fair)