Bricks Return With Style in New High-End Buildings


Masonry is having a moment. Perhaps it’s a symptom of glass tower fatigue, perhaps it can be attributed to a desire for a building material that has warmth and texture. Or maybe it’s the hard pull of nostalgia.

Around the city, in TriBeCa, Chelsea, Brooklyn and Queens, on the Lower East Side, the Upper East Side and elsewhere, new developments are sporting brick facades, often with custom-crafted bricks, in some instances with those couture bricks arranged in eye-catching patterns.

It used to be that brick, generally red, was the material of choice for affordable housing, said Howard L. Zimmerman, head of the architecture and engineering firm that bears his name. “Now,” Mr. Zimmerman said, “architects at high-end projects are reinterpreting brick in terms of its style and size and in the design of the facade.

The Grand Mulberry in Little Italy, a seven-story 20-unit condominium at 185 Grand Street, designed by Morris Adjmi Architects and scheduled for completion early next year, is clad in specially-made red-orange bricks. The overlay of hand-molded dome-shaped bricks is arranged in a pattern that could have emerged from a dot-matrix printer.

It’s a tip of the hat to the Italianate aspects on the facades of surrounding tenements. “There are elements of the brick we used that are reminiscent of the brickwork of the building across the street and other buildings in the neighborhood,” said Brittany Macomber, a senior project manager at Morris Adjmi.

Another Adjmi-designed condo, 45 East Seventh Street, which is in a historic district, also has a masonry facade, in this case buff-colored brick, a palette choice that the Landmarks Preservation Commission, noted in its certificate of approval, “harmonizes with masonry materials and finishes of buildings” in the area. There’s a single corbel at the base of the seven-story structure, a double corbel at the top and a pattern resembling a checkerboard at its midsection.

Other bricked projects: 66 Clinton Street, a 12-unit, seven-story condominium with gray brickwork that is set to open next year; 40 East End, a 28-unit condominium with gray and charcoal brick patterning that opened in 2019; and Chelsea’s Park House, a 10-unit condo of deep-red brick that was designed by Annabelle Selldorf and is near completion.



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