Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Downtown Brooklyn Gets the Gotham City Treatment

The Brooklyn Tower, photographed by Max Touhey for SHoP

On an overcast day, the delicate pointed crown of the Brooklyn Tower is invisible in the clouds, as if a vengeful enemy has shrouded its superlative vantage in smoke. Nonetheless, over the low-rise flatlands that comprise most of the borough, the jagged edges rising along the dark shaft are present and unmistakable.

The Batman building, the Tower of Sauron — the nicknames write themselves. And why not? Better this than another squared-off tower that simply fiddles with the ratio of white solid to blue glass. Maybe I should hate it for its bigness, its blackness, its thrust — but I don’t. Skylines need punctuation. The designers of the Brooklyn Tower, SHoP Architects, threw everything at this to make it an exclamation point.

The Brooklyn Tower towers over the rest, a 1,066-foot-tall fortress at 9 DeKalb Avenue that marks the borough’s first foray into the supertall stratosphere. Yet it is not completely alone in altitude: Downtown Brooklyn has added more than 20,000 housing units since it was rezoned in 2004, most of them in undistinguished high-rises. Exceptions include Studio Gang’s 11 Hoyt and Alloy LLC’s forthcoming 100 Flatbush, which also play with texture and technology in ways that reference the 1930s — New York’s first great skyscraper age.