Near the heart of the DUMBO historic district lies a 4-story industrial structure, whose simplicity belies the engaging story of America’s premier paint company during the late 19th century. Our design for 12 distinctive residential apartments, unanimously approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, references that forgotten history. Above the restored façade, there is only a head-on hint of the proposed set-back expansion floors. From other vantage points, though, it becomes clear the building has grown, speaking to contemporary changes in the neighborhood as well.
53 Pearl was part of a 2-building paint factory headed by John Masury, inventor and patent-holder of the resealable paint can. This innovation fueled the company’s expansion into the entire block, with a nationwide influence that extended even to creating the color palette for colonial Williamsburg, VA.
DUMBO can be characterized as one of robust but quiet exterior façades that originally concealed, within each block interior, ceaseless activity. From the Masury building came … color. The palette, from the Masbury portfolio, is also meant to heighten an awareness of the weathered patinas of the context, another source of appropriateness and resonance, representing ties between the industrial past and the artist-in-residence underpinnings of the current community.
The district’s current incarnation is laden with scale change, eras of industrial materiality, and a mix of modern/historic fabric. This block is a microcosm of those contrasts. 53 Pearl contributes unexpected polychrome façade elements, with additional floors held aloft by brick side walls, with an angled front parallel, not to the street wall but to the eponymous Manhattan Bridge, offering views and representing ongoing evolution.