Brooklyn has always been a center of New York City’s commercial and civic life. But the densely populated borough lacks comfortable outdoor spaces—an absence that is increasingly felt as its residential population has increased by more than 40% in the last 20 years.
To ease this pressure, designers of 11 Hoyt, a new condominium tower, wanted to create a space where nature and community could thrive vertically. They saw precast concrete as the most efficient and cost-effective material to help them meet those goals.
Except for the retail storefront, 11 Hoyt is an all–precast concrete, 52-story enclosure with 476 residential units ranging from studios to three bedrooms. One of the biggest accomplishments on this project was fitting so much livable space into such a small footprint, says Weston Walker, design principal and partner for Studio Gang.
Early in the design process, the designer identified a tower shape and size using precast concrete that could meet the owner’s requirements for optimized desirable views and occupancy, while including exterior space at the ground floor and a private park on the second-floor deck. “The building’s indoor-outdoor environment acts as a ‘fifth facade’ of the building, increasing its sustainability while encouraging neighbors to meet and interact among trees, gardens, and other amenities,” Walker says.
The project transformed an entire block of Brooklyn from an outdated parking garage into an elevated green podium anchored by a tower with scalloped edges rising above it. “The scallops are key to the design, migrating across the facade like the cusps of a wave,” Walker says.
The facade panels are designed to support a live load, which is a first for the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, according to Walker.
Each panel features warped, doubly curved exterior surfaces that create a scalloping effect, which imbues a sense of lightness and movement into the facade. The design extends as deep as 3 ft 9 in. on the exterior, with interior bays as deep as 3 ft, allowing for interior benches in living rooms and bedrooms. “It creates expanded living spaces with built-in window seats framing 8-ft-tall windows, Walker says. “It maximizes views of the neighborhood and waterfront and offers glimpses of the building’s sculptural exterior.”
These wave elements were achieved by casting the panels on plywood bent onto ribs cut with computer numerical controlled machinery to form the complex geometry. These units were then installed on-site to identical floor-plate and column layouts to accelerate erection.
By choosing window punched-opening details that include cast-in, waterproofing-wrapped plywood frames to reduce thermal bridging, the design team achieved an aggressive window to wall ratio of 60/40 and continuous insulation on the interior. The precast concrete producer was able to accommodate all 1205 precast concrete double- and single-donut panels using just 119 molds.
“The design for 11 Hoyt really explores the limits and possibilities of precast concrete facade design,” Walker concludes. “We think it brings a new and inviting space for residents to inhabit, while creating an inviting and lively facade that contributes to the dynamism of downtown Brooklyn.”