Proj Overview

Project Overview

In the heart of Brooklyn, N.Y., 1 Willoughby Square towers 34 stories above the ground. The tower is impressive for many reasons: it is the first new office building built in the borough in the last 25 years; it is the tallest office tower in Brooklyn; and it is a feast for the eyes thanks to architect FXCollaborative’s unique design approach, which specified nearly 400 precast concrete brick-clad spandrels using custom brick shapes. All the precast concrete elements were sandblasted and stained with a blue-glazed brick featuring an Acapulco texture. The 550-ft-tall, 472,000 ft² tower offers incredible workspaces for office tenants, primary real estate on the ground level for retail businesses, stunning views of skyscrapers and waterways, and a precast concrete solution that is reliable, resilient, aesthetically pleasing, and sustainable.

A Modern Marvel with Historic Significance

Early in the design process, FXCollaborative established that the spandrels used would have a glazed masonry appearance as a nod to Brooklyn’s architectural history. The designers considered several options to make this possible, including a glazed terra-cotta rainscreen, a handset glazed brick cavity wall, and a precast concrete system with inset glazed brick. Ultimately, the firm chose to partner with Architectural Precast Innovations Inc. of Middleburg, Pa. on the precast concrete solution.

“The precast concrete option was selected because it would best achieve the project’s goals for constructability, schedule, cost, and performance,” said Brian Fanning, partner at FXCollaborative. “In addition to meeting those goals, precast concrete allowed for more-intricate brick bonding patterns and details that would not have been feasible if the brick was handset on site. The intricate coursing, plus the selection of a custom glazed-brick concrete and stain on the precast concrete elevated the tower’s aesthetics.”

Celebrating the industrial heritage of Brooklyn was important for the design team. The precast concrete spandrels bring to mind motifs established by buildings such as the nearby New York Telephone Long Island Headquarters and avoid the all-glass paradigm that typically pervades new office-tower construction. The design also reflects attributes of traditional industrial architecture through the use of rigorous structure, light-filled high spaces, and exposed finishes.

Beyond its suitability for the aesthetic aspects of the design, precast concrete provided other advantages to the project, which took place on a tight site in an urban environment. “The ability of the precast concrete components to be fabricated in advance and stored for delivery as needed allowed the owner and contractor Gilbane Building Construction to achieve a more efficient installation than with field-constructed assemblies of brick or terra-cotta,” said Fanning. “Also, the precast concrete panels could be delivered just in time and craned into place, which was critical given the dense construction site.” Fanning further noted that “precast concrete was ideal in this building design because we sought exterior finishes that were low maintenance and durable.” He emphasized that the use of precast concrete lessened the need for on-site labor and accelerated enclosure of the building and the project schedule.

Sustainability is a priority for 1 Willoughby Square, which has been designated LEED Silver. Choosing precast concrete for the material’s exterior minimized construction waste because the components were fabricated off site, and the use of precast concrete also helped make the construction process more efficient, with reduced impact to the surrounding neighborhood. Additionally, the project was able to use regional materials, as Architectural Precast Innovations is located near the jobsite. The precast concrete design also helped 1 Willoughby Square reach its energy goals, as the spandrels are part of a high-performance building envelope that includes an airtight, uninterrupted continuous layer of spray foam insulation.

As Fanning explained, 1 Willoughby Square is a testament to the many great things that can be accomplished through the use of precast concrete. “The addition of this 34-story tower to the downtown Brooklyn area complements the swell of residential development in the neighborhood and further invigorates the area,” he said. “As the first new high-rise office in the area for a generation, 1 Willoughby Square offers significant office space for Brooklyn’s growing creative culture, houses a public high school to support the growing residential population, and incorporates itself into the existing urban fabric with ground floor retail.”

“Providence Engineering actively coordinated with Architectural Precast Innovations, Inc., the architect, structural engineer, façade consultant, curtain wall manufacturer, precast erector, and the general contractor to ensure our connection designs met various requirements. The resulting connection designs successfully avoided interferences with curtain wall embeds, window shades, radiant fin tube heating elements, and various other items to provide a safe and economical solution.” – Mike Hopple Senior Project Engineer, Providence Engineering


“The precast panels allowed us to create a much more expressive facade by allowing a crafted, intricate glazed brick coursing pattern, which gives the building its distinct identity. It would have been prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to achieve this brick pattern by hand laying brick on-site. The design expression also required careful coordination between the precast and metal column covers and other unique solutions to ensure the high-performance standards of the enclosure.” - Gustavo Rodriguez Design Director, FXCollaborative

Mason Nichols is a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based writer and editor who has covered the precast concrete industry since 2013.


2024 PCI Design AwardsBest Office Building
2024 PCI Design AwardsSustainable Design Award Honorable Mention
Project Team


FXCollaborative, Brooklyn, N.Y. 


Providence Engineering, Lancaster, Pa.


Gilbane Building Company, New York, N.Y. 


JEMB Realty, New York, N.Y.

PCI-Certified Precast Concrete Producer

Architectural Precast Innovations, Inc.,  Middleburg, Pa.

PCI Certified Erector

Precast Services, Inc., Twinsburg, Ohio

Transportation Partner

Summers Trucking 

Key Project Attributes

  • One Willoughby Square (1WSQ) in Brooklyn, New York, is a thirty-four-story tower crafted to meet the ethos of modern creative enterprises. 
  • This architectural structure is made up of 34 stories and features interior atria, exterior terraces and loggias, and three “super floors” with high ceilings and amenity spaces
  • A precast concrete system with inset glazed brick is central to 1 Willoughby Square, the first new office tower in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 25 years.
  • With a height of 550 ft, the 34-story tower is the tallest office building in Brooklyn.
  • Thanks to the use of sustainable precast concrete products, the tower achieved LEED Silver certification.

Project/Precast Scope

  • Designers chose a unique cobalt blue brick from the Elgin-Butler Brick Company in Austin, Texas, as a key component of the building’s façade.
  • 483 architectural precast panels were used on this project.
  • The precast panels allowed the designer to create a much more expressive facade with a crafted, intricate glazed brick coursing pattern. It would have been prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to achieve this brick pattern by hand laying brick on-site. The design expression also required careful coordination between the precast and metal column covers and other unique solutions to ensure the high-performance standards of the enclosure.
  • Nearly 400 brick-clad precast concrete spandrels using custom brick shapes and a stained, blue-glaze appearance are the aesthetic focal point of 1 Willoughby Square.
  • Approximately 153,000 flat bricks and 600 corner bricks were used on the project.
  • The $200 million building encompasses 472,000 ft2.
  • While the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the project, the use of precast concrete spandrels helped speed up the construction timeline, allowing 1 Willoughby Square to be completed in 2022.