The 150,000-square-foot Cohen Community Food Rescue Center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn brings together City Harvest's administrative, food rescue, and delivery departments and an unparalleled event space and demonstration kitchen under one roof. As monthly visits to New York City food pantries and soup kitchens remain nearly 70% higher than they were pre-pandemic, the Cohen Community Food Rescue Center empowers the organization to rescue, store, and distribute twice as much food across the five boroughs. The Food Rescue Center was designed by Ennead Architects (Design Architect, Interior and Exterior), Rockwell Group (Interior Architectural Design for Event Space & Demonstration Kitchen), and Ware Malcomb (Logistics Spaces and Architect of Record).
Originally a repair shop for the Brooklyn Rapid Transit trains from 1890 to 1916, City Harvest’s new headquarters underwent a dramatic transformation led by Ennead, transitioning the historic building into an energy-efficient, bright, inspiring, and healthy workplace for City Harvest, where previously separate entities of the organization — its office and distribution center —are brought together and truly connected.
Ennead transformed the building’s interior into a light filled, flexible and efficient workplace, adding accessible entries and exterior canopies and restoring and enhancing the original daylighting system — especially the clerestories, which had long since been covered over. Honoring the structural and masonry elements and expansive ceiling height of the building, the design juxtaposes contemporary architecture with the original industrial interior, using bold color and graphics systems throughout the space. Ennead calibrated the office modules and layout in accordance with the unusual original structural system of branching wooden columns that resemble trees, further drawing attention to the historical nature of the wood-framed warehouse, while introducing new interventions like the steel staircase and screens that define various zones of the building.
The building is upgraded to include several sustainable initiatives, including a future solar array, composting and recycling features throughout the facility, energy efficient lighting, radiant heating and cooling, and electric charging stations. Recycled materials, like concrete, brick, CMU, paving and decorative metals, are used throughout the site. The Cohen Community Food Rescue Center will meet LEED Gold certification.
“City Harvest’s new home reflects the power and purpose of their mission. Ennead is proud to have transformed a beautiful historic warehouse into an environmentally responsible state-of-the-art workplace, community resource, and distribution center with expanded food rescue capabilities,” said designer Richard Olcott FAIA, Partner at Ennead Architects. “As we see it, the most sustainable building is the one that is already there, so our design approach was informed by the existing potential already within this building, which we revitalized and filled with daylight to create an open and welcoming environment for all.” Ennead Partner Don Weinreich FAIA said, “Reclaiming a 19th-century building and bringing it to LEED Gold in service of an organization that accomplishes so much good is a testament to how good design can contribute to society.”