Sunday, October 20, 2013

Brooklyn Army Terminal

Building Entrance
Brooklyn Army Terminal Entrance
What was once used to move troops and supplies is now a space for commercial and light industrial use. The Brooklyn Army Terminal or 'U.S. Army Military Ocean Terminal' (1919) was originally built as a multi-modal shipping facility to serve the war effort during World War I but the war ended prior to the terminal's completion.[1] The building saw the most action during WWII when over 37,000 tons of supplies were ferried through the building and 56,000 military and civilian personnel were employed there.[2] The army terminal was built in response to the first world war and was the largest military supply base at the time. To meet the demands of a truncated design and construction schedule the Brooklyn Army Terminal is architecturally unique in style and in the scale of methods and materials used for its construction.

Main Building
Brooklyn Army Terminal
Designed by Cass Gilbert, the Brooklyn Army Terminal buildings were an architectural marvel having been built in an astounding seventeen months. In addition, the Terminal was the largest reinforced concrete construction project of its time. When the terminal was fully operational it received supplies by ship and rail. The supplies would be offloaded by crane, dropped onto one of the many balconies according to its destination country, which was painted on the wall, then processed. Cargo moving through the terminal never had to touch the ground while in the facility. While not nearly as tall as some of Cass Gilberts other structures, the Brooklyn Army Terminal is longer than the Wolworth building (designed by Cass Gilbert) is tall.[1]

Perspective view down train tracks inside building
Brooklyn Army Terminal Interior from Center of Building
During a time when romantic styles were still popular, the interior of this building looks more like 60s Brutalist architecture. Architect Cass Gilbert, who was better known for ornate Beaux Arts and Gothic Revival styles of architecture designed this building with function as the primary design determinant; so, the building is "appropriately austere".[3] Gilbert also designed the Austin, Nochols & Company Warehouse on the Williamsburg waterfront that was recently converted into condos, as well as many other noteworthy buildings. While Cass Gilbert was the principal architect, Irving T. Bush, owner of neighboring Bush Terminal provided expertise relative to large scale shipping facility design.[1]

After WWII the shipping methods for which the building was deigned became outdated as new methods of shipping using shipping containers became widely used. However, the building complex was in use until the early seventies before closing and sitting empty until 1981 when it was purchased by the city of New York. The Brooklyn Army Terminal renovation that began in 1984 is nearly complete and to date all available commercial space is occupied by tenants.[1]

Sky bridge between Brooklyn Army Terminal buildings
Brooklyn Army Terminal Sky-Bridge

1. Tour. Open House New York (OHNY). Brooklyn. 12 October. 2013.
2. "History" Brooklyn Army Terminal. Online. 2013 
3. White, Norval, Willensky, Elliot, and Leadon, Fran AIA Guide to New York. Oxford University Press, 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment