Empire Stores, 2019 ULI Global Awards for Excellence Winner

© S9 Architecture / Imagen Subliminal

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Developers: Midtown Equities; HK Organization; Rockwood Capital
Designers: Studio V Architecture and S9 Architecture; Perkins Eastman
General Contractor: Veracity Partners
Landscape Designer: Future Green Studio
Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates
MEP Engineer: Mottola Rini Engineers
LEED Consultant: Spiezle Architectural Group
Lighting Consultant: Tillotson Design Associates
Site Size: 1.82 acres (0.74 ha)

Jury Statement: Empire Stores transformed a historic warehouse into a modern workplace and civic asset while retaining its character, inviting the public to enjoy its rooftop extension of Brooklyn Bridge Park and creating a passageway to connect the neighborhood to the waterfront.

Empire Stores is in a formerly vacant 19th-century warehouse on New York’s Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (DUMBO) waterfront. The warehouse has been a landmark on the New York waterfront for more than a century and has become part of the urban fabric of the neighborhood. Empire Stores is a mixed-use adaptive use project in a landmarked and historic district and was designed to retain and incorporate many of the building’s notable architectural features, including its large footprint, masonry facade, and schist structural walls.

Empire Stores kept many unique features of the building, including the masonry facade. © S9 Architecture / Imagen Subliminal
The rooftop green space is accessible via staircase from the courtyard. © S9 Architecture / Imagen Subliminal











The building used to act as a barrier between Water Street and the Brooklyn Bridge Park. In the renovation, part of the masonry was cut away to create a pedestrian path from Water Street through the building, into a new courtyard, and to the park. Empire Stores partnered with the Brooklyn Bridge Park to bring the park into the building through its 7,000-square-foot fifth-floor terrace, which is open to the public and accessible through the courtyard. In addition to its green roof, the building uses a closed-loop water source heat pump and has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.

During renovation, a new courtyard was created, connecting the neighborhood to the park. © S9 Architecture / Imagen Subliminal
Empire Stores occupies a prominent place along the Brooklyn waterfront. © S9 Architecture








The reanimated complex features 380,000 square feet of creative office space over five floors, including a two-story contemporary addition on the roof. The building is 100 percent leased. Tenants include West Elm, which leased a third of the space, 70,277 square feet of retail; the Brooklyn Historical Society, which has gallery space on the second floor; a beer garden; and several restaurants. These tenants, in addition to the public space and park access, have made Empire Stores a creative and community hub at the epicenter of Brooklyn’s Tech Triangle.


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