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LEED Certified Toren Condominium is Downtown Brooklyn’s ...

LEED Certified Toren Condominium is Downtown Brooklyn’s Best Kept Secret

Downtown Brooklyn, New York City is one of the most rapidly developing areas in Brooklyn. Its popularity stems from multiple factors, its proximity to Brooklyn, as well as the various activities to do in the area. In 2009, the mass development of Downtown Brooklyn went into full swing, as corporations saw the untapped potential of

The Toren Condominium at sunset. Its unique shape and facade help it to stand out from its surroundings. Brooklyn, New York City, New York. Photo by Quinn Harding.

Downtown Brooklyn, New York City is one of the most rapidly developing areas in Brooklyn. Its popularity stems from multiple factors, its proximity to Brooklyn, as well as the various activities to do in the area. In 2009, the mass development of Downtown Brooklyn went into full swing, as corporations saw the untapped potential of luxury apartments in the neighborhood. Six years later, during the first six months of 2015, the median rent in Downtown Brooklyn was $3,195, second only to DUMBO at $3,900. The cost of living has gotten so expensive that for many people, living in Downtown Brooklyn is not worth the cost of entry.

Toren Condominium, which opened in 2010, was designed by Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM). It has set itself apart from other luxury housing in the area. Its LEED Gold Certification and relatively lower prices are the main reasons why Toren is distinct from any other buildings in the area. The LEED certification is an indication of green design, benefiting not only the residents of the building, but also the larger community due to its environmental impact. The rainscreen system and the cogeneration plant are the main features that qualify the Toren Condominium for this standard, and they play a major role on the everyday life of the tenants. The rainscreen system makes the air quality of the building noticeably better, and the cogeneration plant makes the building more energy efficient, making the quality of life in the building better as a whole. Not only is the quality of life higher in Toren, it is also more affordable than many buildings in Downtown Brooklyn.

Toren Condominium in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. Up close, the rain screen becomes more apparent, as the face of the building is not perfectly flat. Up close, the rain screen becomes more apparent, as the face of the building is not perfectly flat.

Architecturally, the building is acclaimed, being praised for its striking appearance and its revolutionary features by both critics and tenants alike. Despite these unique features, Toren is only about 85% sold after five years on the market. According to the Housing Vacancy Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the vacancy rate in Downtown Brooklyn, which is defined as a combination of Fort Greene and Brooklyn Heights, is 2.6%. There is a dramatic disparity between Toren and the greater neighborhood, despite being less expensive, and having above average amenities.

While the current numbers are underwhelming, there is reason to believe that the impact of LEED certification is still evolving, especially as environmental issues to continue to receive more attention. Six years after its initial opening, Toren Condominium is still the only LEED certified condo in Downtown Brooklyn. It is quite possible that many people simply do not know the advantages of green architecture, and therefore do not actively seek it out. There are not enough LEED certified buildings to examine the impact they have on the community. In this way, the Ava DoBro is unique. The high end residential building, designed by SLCE architects, is another LEED certified building that reached completion this year. It will provide valuable data to supplement that of the Toren Condo. This will offer a better idea as to why Toren has underperformed during its first few years.

As the only LEED certified condo available in Downtown Brooklyn, The Toren Condominium is in a unique position. The complex, by virtue of being the first, has set the standard for green architecture in Downtown Brooklyn, one of the borough’s most popular areas. While the impact of sustainable residential architecture in the neighborhood has yet to be fully realized, in many ways, Toren is currently being undervalued. In this way, the condominium is perhaps the best kept secret in Downtown Brooklyn.

Will other buildings in Downtown Brooklyn follow suit and build green? Is there a building near you where sustainability and luxury intersect? How prevalent is it for LEED certified buildings to be constructed in your community? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.

Credits: Images by Quinn Harding. Data linked to sources.

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Quinn graduated last May from Haverford College in Growth and Structure of Cities with a focus in architecture. His interests in the field include issues of sustainability, historic preservation, and innovative use of public and communal spaces. Curr...

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