“There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans…cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
– Jane Jacobs
The Death & Life of Great American Cities
Gentrification is a double edged sword – and in Brooklyn it has swiftly. The site at 475 Kent Ave, a long standing, 11-story loft building, fronted by a large metal door and long, multi-column panel of buzzers, has been the home to hundreds of creatives over the decades – Tim Hetherington, Deborah Masters, and Bill Murray all rented here at some point. Once the location for the La Rosa pasta factory, it became the vertical village for artists to live and work in the 80s and 90s, eventually coming under official protection in 2010 when NYC’s loft law was amended.
The building was recently sold to an Israel-based real estate company last year, and since then over half the tenants have been cleared out with the remaining half doing what they can to keep their close-knit community together. As other newly constructed glass-clad super structures stare back at 475, this building will all too soon become another icon consumed by the glacial-paced wave of development.
@fvonf commissioned me to go inside and photograph the lives and spaces of designer Ksenya Samarskaya, writer Guy Lesser, set designer Johanna Burke, and furniture designers Gregoire Abrial and Hang Pham – thank you all for allowing me into your spaces to capture this piece of history.
Soon after Guy moved in 1998, The New York Times called Williamsburg the chicest new neighborhood in New York. “I would just walk past a burnt-out power plant and an abandoned brewery and think ‘Oh, the most chic neighborhood in America…”
– Guy Lesser
“I received upon moving into my unit…a rectangular shoebox, below-regulation thin drywall, some leftover two-by-fours and a large garbage can.”
– Ksenya Samarskaya