Justin Davidson: Preserving the Brooklyn Navy Yard Isn’t Just About Restoring the Buildings
The waterfront at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, on a ragged inlet opposite the bulge of the Lower East Side, is both an exhilarating place and a melancholy one. Out beyond a collapsing pier, the Williamsburg Bridge executes its grand jeté across the East River. In an immense World War II–era dry dock, granite-walled and roomy enough for the Empire State Building to stretch out, an oil barge is getting a fresh coat of red paint. A giant tanker waits outside the imperial-scale gates for its turn to be spruced up. Nearby, the high-end printing company Duggal Visual Solutions has nearly finished refurbishing a huge derelict shed, stripping it down to the bones and recladding the skeleton in clear glass and dark stone. The structure will serve as a laboratory for environmentally virtuous inventions. Eventually, the crumpled asphalt out front will get a landscape makeover too; for now it’s best navigated in a high-clearance truck.