I have loved this building for over twenty years. This last year has seen so many changes along the Gowanus that finally seeing work begin on the Batcave is wonderful.
The Powerhouse Workshop will be a contemporary industrial fabrication center established to serve the working needs of artists. Powerhouse will offer production capabilities in multiple materials and will encourage investigation, experimentation and collaboration across media and disciplines. Affordable and accessible space for industry and production is increasingly scarce in New York City. Fabrication shops in wood, metal, ceramics, textiles and printmaking will provide sophisticated production capabilities and support risk-taking and exploration for artists In Powerhouse’s new Gowanus home,.
To support the working needs of artists, Powerhouse will create a platform that provides employment in production and full-service fabrication, and also provides the facilities and resources to support individual creation. Powerhouse’s technical staff will be experienced producers and collaborators, available to facilitate individual projects and small-batch production, as well as large-scale projects and editions. In addition to fabrication, Powerhouse will periodically host public events that encourage visitors to engage with the center. Exhibitions in the large-scale industrial spaces of the Powerhouse will be tailored to take advantage of the historic building’s volume and infrastructure.
Completed in 1903, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Power Station was constructed to supply electricity to the newly consolidated local steam railroad, elevated railroad and street car system. Built in Romanesque Revival style by Thomas E. Murray, the BRT Powerhouse consisted of two parts. The Turbine Hall housed the dynamo and engines, and the Boiler House to the north contained the furnaces and coal storage. In the 1950s the Power Station was decommissioned and the Boiler House was demolished.
In the decades since, the site has been abandoned with restricted access. During the early 2000s, it came to be known as the “Batcave,” a destination for youth, explorers and artists, whose work covers its walls.
The site was acquired in 2012 by the Powerhouse Environmental Arts Foundation, a not-for-profit organization created to redevelop the property and operate the Powerhouse Workshop.
In 2016, Powerhouse commissioned the Pritzker-prize winning architecture practice Herzog & de Meuron to reimagine the 113-year-old coal-burning power plant and create facilities for fabrication in wood, metal, ceramics, textiles, and printmaking. The central design elements include the renovation of the existing Turbine Hall and the reconstruction of the Boiler House. Its interior spaces will allow for flexible workshop configurations.
According to the Commercial Observer, Joshua Rechnitz paid $7million for the industrial building on the Gowanus Canal. The total investment to refurbish the former powerhouse at 322 Third Avenue has yet to be determined, though.