Renderings Suggest Brooklyn Heights Library Replacement Tower Taller Than Depicted

Guest post by “Sensei B”

The rendering for the proposed building on the library site does not reflect the reality of what is being proposed. Let’s start with the rendering in the NY Times article.

At first glance one might be inclined to say, “Oh, that’s not so bad. No big deal.” But let’s look closer, shall we? The proposal is for a 38 story building. The building in the rendering is about 20 stories. Count the windows.

I know, I know. I often profess that I can only count to 10, but even I can count to 10 two times and realize that still does not equal 38.

But wait, there’s more!

One Pierrepont Plaza (the pointed building behind and to the left) is 19 stories tall (210.23′) (

I count 20 windows worth of stories in the proposed rendering. Only in Bizarro World would a 19 story building behind it appear to be taller.

I am not an architect, nor a professional renderer, but I took a stab at making a more realistic rendering of how the building height might actually appear.

For those who must know, I compared the number of pixels for floors 1-10 to the number of pixels for floors 10-20 to get a declining ratio of 86% for the perspective. I then measured up by the scaled number of pixels for floors 10-20 for floors 20-30, and then scaled that number by 80% for floors 30-38. Is that completely accurate? I don’t know, but, in short, I didn’t just paste the building on top of itself. For once, I even tried to give benefit of the doubt. And, yes, the perspective lines of the windows is hence all wonky. If you want an accurate rendering with pretty windows and all that, I suggest you ask the city and the developer to provide one.

For the most part, I think my hacked rendering stands up, especially if you look at a chart of comparable building heights.

16 Court Street: 35 floors
180 Montague Street: 33 floors
The St. George Tower: 30 floors

101 Clark Street: 30 floors

1 Pierrepont Plaza: 19 floors
Buildings in Brooklyn Heights Historical District are capped at 6 stories.
The existing library is 2 floors.

I have “stories” in the chart but the referenced website says “floors.” Is there a substantial difference? Anyone? Bueller?)
As you can see the chart puts my rendering in better perspective (no pun intended).

This will be the tallest building around by 3 stories (plus “mechanicals”),  yet this rendering makes it seem far SHORTER than a neighboring 19 story building.

Don’t be fooled by the original renderings. They are about as accurate as artist renderings of distant planets.

All of this is to aside from the other issues such as selling city property at the bottom of the market, trading a 60,000 sq ft library for a 20,000 sq ft library, overcrowding of schools, lack of parking, etc, etc, etc.

What bothers me above all is an obvious attempt to DECEIVE with disgustingly inaccurate renderings which minimize the shock value of the proposed development as to placate the public into acceptance.

P.S. Any rebuttals that it is not an attempt to deceive will merely exhibit the incompetence of those who provided such inaccurate renderings. Take your pick.

RELATED: David Kramer Talks About the Brooklyn Heights Library Project

Publisher’s note: The opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of BHB, its publisher or editorial staff.

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  • CassieVonMontague

    Another anonymous opinion piece. Sensei is correct that there are conflicting reports about the height. A Times piece from September gives the height as 30 stories after correcting an earlier misstatement that the height will be 20 stories. The architect is Jonathan Marvel. His email is His phone number is 212-616-0420. Do some reporting and save the histrionics for later.

  • Freshman Amos

    Sweetie, and fellow anon poster, there’s a link to Mr. Marvel’s interview with this site at the end of the piece above. He’s spun his tale. HE’S A RESIDENT OF BROOKLYN HEIGHTS! HE’S GIVING SPACE TO ST. ANN’S (A PRIVATE ENTITY), HE’S GIVING SPACE TO SMORGASBURG – AN AFFILATED BUSINESS OF REAL ESTATE BLOG BROWNSTONER!

  • petercow

    Every rendering I’ve ever seen, distorts perspective in order to make the building appear to stand out from its surroundings.

  • Martin L Schneider

    This article starkly clarifies what the NYTimes, to the shame of the Michael Kimmelman article covered up. Namely the real price to be paid what he so casually a “38 story tower.”
    As graphically pointed out, that’s twice
    the height of the Morgan Stanley bldg. It is totally out of scale with
    the buildings in Cadman Plaza. It is a proposed behemoth.
    Its height and bulk will
    be a detriment to the quality of life on a large swath of the Heights; Clinton St,
    Monroe Place, Pierrepont, even Henry Street will be dramatically effected. Those blocks and the
    thousands of people living there will lose light and sky and some will find
    themselves in permanent shadow.

    that’s only on the westerly side of the project. To the east and the
    north lie the park spaces. There, the already limited sunshine will be
    cut even more.
    Ah, the Brooklyn Public Library says, but what a
    money maker! For sheer profit, the sky’s the limit here. This is our pot of gold.

    Now the argument will revolve around the insatiable money needs of the
    Library. Shamelessly cheering them on is City Hall—which cares not about
    library services but about limiting the library’s cost to the City—the library seems to be fully prepared to
    sell out our
    neighborhood’s quality of life legacy for a mess of pottage.
    It is clear that they need to be reminded,
    forcefully, that there are multiple publics to be served especially when
    selling off the rights to develop on public property. They are supporting a permanent shadow in our future. A life-long blight on the skyline. We must ask Linda Johnson, president and CEO of Library, have you no shame?

    In one clear voice we need to say no to 38-stories!

    Unfortunately, to date, the BHA counsels us to wait through the numerous scheduled reviews. These reviews, over and over again, have failed to protect the public’s interest in favor of big-time developers. Like
    Lincoln’s discredited “overly cautious and slow-moving”
    General Sherman, the BHA want us to wait for the bureaucracy to have its way. We have been down that failed road before. We
    need a strong neighborhood response now to let the library know that there
    are limits.

  • judifrancis

    Exactly what they did with the renderings of the 31 story tower inside of Brooklyn Bridge Park when the park plan was first revealed and shown at public meetings (Dec. 04-Mar 05). Look at what the developers showed for Pier 1 housing/hotel too. I hope someone is doing verified renderings (Simulation Center) or shadow studies of this building. Nevertheless, good job on the research. And oh, the Developer was also head of the pro-park housing Conservancy for many years while we were advocated for a park. Just sayin’ – same crew.

  • gc

    The real estate interests and their political toadies are flat out rolling over us. It is going to take real action in the streets if we are to have any chance at all. Words alone have no impact at all. They have bought enough of the politicos, plenty of lawyers, and a good measure of public relations front men and women that we’ll never know what hit us until it’s too late. Without real and immediate action all these ships have sailed!

  • Reggie

    Well, as the architect, Marvel isn’t giving anything to anybody. But even David Cramer, the developer, isn’t giving anything away. He proposes to sell St. Ann’s a gym at cost and rent a commercial space to Smorgasburg. I was briefly tempted to capitalize sell and rent FOR EFFECT.

  • Martin L Schneider

    Are you questioning the heavily fact-checked New York Times? Perhaps you are suggesting that this week’s height of 38 stories is wrong?? If so, let the architect request a quick correction. An easy fix.
    However, I am assuming that the Times got it right. Wanna bet?

  • brooklynheightsblog
  • Doug Biviano

    What did you expect? Voters and non-voters, you keep voting and non-voting in politicians who refuse to oppose this kind of harmful development that is destroying our neighborhood (or even indicate that they would oppose it).

    I asked Steve Levin at the PS8 overcrowding meeting if he’d call for a moratorium on the Library Hi-rise Luxury Condos until the PS8 capacity question is resolved. Levin refused to answer the first time I asked but finally cornered the second time, he said he cannot do that. He can, but he just won’t is the reality. He is the in-district council member when this goes to ULURP and historically the other Council members will follow his lead on the vote if there is leadership. So he’s de Blassio’s, Lander’s, Berlin-Rosen’s and the Working Family Party’s little bitch and not representing you or the neighborhood. So too has become Squadron.

    Forget about Simon. She takes big dollar contributions from the BPL and BBP board members including Hank “the Condo-man” Gutman. She’s also right there voting Bronx Democratic County boss Heastie for Speaker of the Assembly. So out with Shelly and in with a figure from the some of the most corrupt political swamps in the country i.e. NYC Demcratic County Parties.

  • johnny cakes

    What do you propose???

  • Carla Muskat

    A comment/observation from a subscriber who lives far away: those of you who are posting anonymously and want to see action to block the structure as proposed may want to “come out” so that you can join forces for good. From what I can see there are only two who are showing their real IDs – how will you know whom to work with if you don’t know each other? It seems like a possible next step would be to do a Save Our View type of effort, maybe even buddy up with that group, not to cannibalize or water down that effort, but to show that the area is united on all fronts, working together to stem the tide of overbuilding that threatens quality of life and enriches a few at the expense of many. If I still lived locally, I would be in the mix myself! This posting is exactly the kind of PR that’s needed – and should be getting more visibility – no need to quibble about the details here, just getting more energy and attention focused on the problem will be a great first step. Don’t wait until the wrecking ball is pulling up.

  • Justine Swartz

    David Kramer testifying at Borohall Oct. 14, 2014 said Marvel Architects, ( the same ones that are building Pierhouse), will be drawing the plans from scratch cannibalizing designs from all the proposals submitted by the other developers. One of the proposals touted a Residential Tower of 55 floors. I do not see why Marvel Architects would Not build a condominium of 55 floors, since they have already obtained the Air Rights from St. Ann’s School.

  • gc

    Go rent a couple of those giant blow up rats you see in front of building projects with labor disputes. Set them up in front of the hotel and condo. Make it clear that they will be staying for as long as it takes. They will make an impact on future guests at the hotel as well as condo owners. Not cheap, not easy but I think it could have an impact. Pick a few of the major players (plenty of names available) set the rats up outside their homes. Make them uncomfortable, make it clear it’s going to stay that way until changes are made. I’m sure there are plenty of other ideas for effective types of protest. With the amount of money involved, and with the political connections the real estate interests have bought over time, this will be anything but cheap or easy.

  • Heights Correspondent 1

    The ONLY way any of will stop or reasonably limit this kind of behavior
    (Well, nonviolent ly) is either to cause
    Very serious asset. Loss or to send
    Several to these guys to JAIL..and
    Not for any short stay and best in the
    FPS. The ONLY way do do this with
    The level of investigation under your
    Control which will produce a body
    Intell. Which will force a federal
    Prosecutors to move. Street actions
    Are indispensable, but without making
    An example of several key players,
    it’s all street jive.

  • Heights Correspondent 1

    Those who council elective action
    Ignore the fact were no longer
    having credible elections. Everyone
    Should get it straight, only with loud
    Public displays AND sending people
    to JAIL is the political/RE culture going to change. And to this you have to be willing
    to (Boo-Hoo) reach into your own pockets
    To make it happen.

    Do that, or get used to living in a nice
    Part of Queens…because that’s where
    You geniuses are quickly going to find yourselves living in….

  • tdg

    There seem’s to be to be a developer’s disease circulating through the area. We are time and again confronted with an extra 15 or 20 feet of “mechanicals” which mysteriously appear on on the roofs of new buildings. I find it hard to believe that the Building Department and the Landmarks Preservation Commission are unaware of these, although they always seem surprised when they appear. The easy answer is to have the builder remove them and relocate them at their own expense on a lower floor. But that would have a deleterious effet on the profitability of the project, and God know’s we can’t have that


  • Fritz

    The comment on 60,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet goes back to previously unanswered questions. First, the business library is moving out to GAP. Second, there’s a claim that back office space is no longer needed for something (card catalogues?) Third, the measure that impacts us is seating capacity and shelf length, maybe taking into account the speed of inter library transfer and the volume of ebooks and audiobooks. Not to say the project has good answers to this, but does anyone know?

  • guest

    Not taking any position here. But it’s not a good idea to compare heights with numbers of stories between residential buildings and office buildings. Office building floors are typically around 13′ while residential buildings typically have around 9′ from floor to ceiling. SO for every three office floors, it takes 4 floors to keep up.

  • e

    Maybe so but this rendering appears to be designed to make the building fit its surroundings better rather than stand out. It seems (based on Sensei B’s excellent work) to be designed to mollify the obvious criticism from the neighborhood — namely, that it’s out of scale with its surroundings and simply too big.

    It seems like the developer, by doing the rendering this way, was trying to put one over on the community. To me, it verges on fraud.

  • Martin L Schneider

    This is a correction. An architect friend has pointed out that commercial floors or stories are not the same height. So 38 is not twice the 20 stories of Morgan Stanley. No, it works out to be merely 25% higher. Still way out of scale and a permanent blight in the neighborhood.

    As one walks around the nabe, on Clinton or Montague, Henry or Pierrepont, to the south and to west; look and see if you can spot Morgan Stanley’s distinctive green roof. Then try to imagine ten or so floors rising past that roof. Then fill in the blank sky to the north with a building.

    For the folks on Monroe Place and especially Clinton Street it will be more like lower Manhattan’s canyons.

    It is imperative to get financial facts out there now so that a reasonable judgement can be made about how much of the nature of the abutting neighborhood needs to be sold out in order to bail out the Brooklyn Public Library?.

  • Bialy

    people in this area don’t even clear ice on the sidewalks in front of the 5 million dollar townhouses. They simply don’t care.

  • William Gilbert

    Lots of new residential buildings tout “high ceilings” as an amenity, so I don’t think the comparison to an office building is wrong. It seems that new office buildings tend to have lower ceilings than residential ones.

  • Heights Correspondent 1

    This is the kind of behavior which flows
    From the Casino attitude. It’s everyone
    else’s responsibility to reach into their
    pockets to deal with any problem.

    If you put it to them that SOMEONE has
    to bell the cat, they walk away and won’t
    Give you an answer…

    Avoidance of involvement is a basic
    Heights behavior on “higher” levels.

    Pols and the RE “industry” know that…

  • certfiedplanner

    There are so many problems with this screed I don’t know where to begin. I don’t have a position on the project but what a shame for the Brooklyn Heights Blog (which seems to have kept an admirably open mind, and even managed some genuine reporting) on this issue to give itself over to a bunch of drivel. The posters says he/she is not an architect, which is painfully obvious. Also devoid of basic common sense.

    Commercial buildings and residential buildings are constructed in NYC with different standard slab heights. Commercial slab heights are always larger than residential to accommodate fiber, telecom and other mechanical elements. Therefore comparing the number of floors in a building is total nonsense and absolutely no basis for any sort of vaguely accurate or empirical comparison of building height. Its pure childish bunk.

    Comparing actual height and gross square footage is far more instructive. 1 Pierrepont is a 750,000 square foot building that is about 420 feet tall. Where on earth this person figure out that 1 Peirrepont is a 200 foot building is absolutely beyond me. The proposed library building, while certainly taller than 20 stories, is slated to be less than 400 feet and around 350,000 square feet. 75 Henry up the block is nearly 600,000 square feet.

    Please make your own judgements about the library tower, but please don’t make them off the silly childish conjecture in this blog post!

  • johnny cakes

    Marvel lives on Willow Place in Willowtown, Brooklyn Heights. He has a
    classic row house on the eastern side of the block, middle of the block,
    facing the AT White Center. It is on the Joralemon side of the street, just adjacent to the tall brick building that used to house the MTA power
    station. If anyone wants to peacefully demonstrate there. He designed
    the Pier House which is blocking the view of the Brooklyn Bridge, and
    the library building as well.

  • johnny cakes

    They don’t pay fines.