Aesthetics of a NY Green Design Build Firm

Eco Brooklyn is a Design/Build firm specializing NY brownstone renovations but our design aesthetic and process is very different from other firms. The reason for this is almost completely due to our sourcing.

Your typical firm will design something and then build it, sourcing whatever materials are best suited to achieve the form and aesthetic they and the client envisioned. First they have the vision and then they procure the materials to fulfill that vision.

But with Eco Brooklyn it is almost the exact opposite. The main reason for this is that we work almost 100% with salvaged materials and we can’t control when we get that stuff. So we get it when we can and store it.

When a client comes to us we build from what we have. We don’t go to the local store and source our materials.

This means FIRST we have the materials and our challenge is to create a vision around them.

For example, last month we had to build a deck. We had pieces of 4×8 tempered glass. We didn’t have any salvaged decking materials. So we built a glass deck with metal and salvaged wood support beams. Unfortunately we couldn’t do all salvaged wood due to DOB fire code, but we did as much wood as legally allowed.

I think this is an ecological attitude that harks back to an older building style of only building with locally sourced materials. Locally sourced as within a couple block radius!

As in when in Alaska, build Igloos. But today you have buildings in Alaska built out of tropical hardwoods, the result of some person’s arrogant belief that they can control nature however they want.

But for Eco Brooklyn the act of sourcing locally is an acknowledgement that we aren’t the rulers of the universe but rather custodians of nature.

This process of doing things very much effects the aesthetics of what we build.

The other level to this is the actual raw materials of Eco Brooklyn’s green building. Our aesthetic is very much controlled by, one, the fact that our materials are salvaged and thus often worn, and two, our aesthetic is controlled by what we typically salvage, which tends to be a lot of wood, and old growth wood at that.

Old wood is a very specific look that fits within definite styles.

Unless we salvage some high end modern materials, we will never be able to build high end modern. We get most of our materials out of 100 year old brownstones. Once you sand down that 100 year old beam and oil it you can contrast it with some white walls and it definitely looks very modern, but ultimately it is always going to be a rough log.

This is a very interesting point to me because it basically says that certain looks can never be green. You’ll often see “green” buildings in say Architectural Digest with all straight lines, metal and glass. It is not possible to get that look without tearing apart mountains for metal and consuming massive amounts of fuel to form it. Same for the glass making.

High end modern can’t ever be as green as whatever our style is. I don’t know what style “salvaged old beams” would fall in to.

This is about form defining the aesthetics as opposed to aesthetics defining form.

The main thing I care about is turning NY green. This aesthetic element is an interesting effect of that.

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