What Comes After the Brownstone?

A few weeks ago The New York Times ran a great piece titled “The Brownstone Revisionists,” about a growing trend that favors modernization over renovation. In the article, Constance Rosenblum writes that “it’s increasingly common to find vintage town houses sheathed in glass, aluminum and other relentlessly contemporary materials.” A far cry from the classic abodes featured in Rizzoli’s reissue of the comprehensive tome Bricks and Brownstone: The New York Row House, the hallowed homes of today are testament to the changing priorities of a city in flux.

To explore what Brownstone 3.0 could (or should) look like, we asked local architects and designers to share their thoughts on an iconic building typology of the future. From re-oriented garden blocks that give each walk-up its own mini front yard to hypothetically re-imagining the city street as one giant stoop, click through to check out ideas from eight innovative local imaginations.

PlayLab’s Big Stoop

Image credit: PlayLab, Inc.

“It’d be incredible to see the Brownstones taken over by their most iconic and public feature: the stoop. We just have to make them bigger, and we can fit more people on them. New York buildings have the opportunity to merge with public spaces in a beautiful way (and they don’t have to be empty lots).” – Archie Lee Coates IV, Principal, PlayLab, Inc.

“I’m reminded of a quotation from Daniel Burnham, [paraphrasing] ‘When will the people of a continuing democracy awaken to the fact that they can possess as a community, what they cannot as individuals.’ The future city will requiring squeezing more out of less by maximizing opportunities for public happiness. I think PlayLab nailed it with their Big Stoop — transforming a vacant lot into a public theater ripe for ongoing intervention.” — Ken Farmer, Creative Director, Nuit Blanche New York