Case Study of The Brooklyn Army Terminal

Project background

Just how did a military supply base built in 1919 turn into what the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) describes as the “premier affordable hub for modern industrial businesses, entrepreneurs, and working families in NYC?” An adaptive-reuse program at the 1.5-million-square-foot Brooklyn Army Terminal, which is situated on 95 acres in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, ushered in the transformation. Syska helped it along by designing MEP engineering, IT/telecommunications, and fire alarm and life safety for this large-scale, highly complex project.

Challenges and Solutions

Flexibility and speed were primary goals: The engineering design had to accommodate a wide range of prospective tenants whose businesses might focus on anything from food processing to 3D printing. NYCEDC also envisioned quick move-ins for tenants.

To achieve the desired flexibility and speed, Syska chose modular mechanical systems for the rooftop. These variable-air-volume units, equipped with air-side economizers and staged compressor cycles, promote ease of installation when tenancies commence and match air supply to tenant needs. A building management system also monitors and adjusts heating and cooling loads according to demand.

Electrical systems, which feature multiple sets of vertical busduct, also support flexibility. As with the mechanical systems, Syska designed these for use by tenants of various types and sizes. And electrical submetering tracks the amount of energy used.

Because the Brooklyn Army Terminal is a registered historical landmark, Syska had to make sure that systems did not interfere with landmarked design elements. To avoid such interference, Syska’s plan called for the replacement of existing windows and installation of a new roof. Syska also worked closely with the NYC Department of Buildings and the Fire Department of New York to achieve compliance with fire and life-safety codes while preserving the historic aesthetic.


Leasing proceeded rapidly following the facility’s completion and boosted the economy of the Sunset Park neighborhood. Today the Terminal houses more than 100 businesses, representing such industries as traditional and advanced manufacturing, food, fashion, and media production. More than 4,000 employees work at the complex, which is also a popular tourist attraction and community hub. You can get there by train, light rail, or ferry. We encourage you to visit!


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