Design is a central industry on The Brooklyn Navy Yard


Design influences or shapes every road we travel, every building we enter, and every bridge we cross. Old designs are often retouched or emulated, or updated according to a modern standard, and new designs are created to push architecture forward. At the helm are architects, planners and engineers, as well as building owners, site owners and developers.

Inside the Navy Yard today, more than two million-square-feet of existing space is being transformed and modernized to meet the needs of our growing manufacturing community. That means that hundreds of industrial designers and fabricators – artists and artisans – are working together inside the Yard to match vision with creation.

May brings Design Week to New York City, and this month at BLDG 92, we celebrate the innovative concepts of students in industrial design, architecture and urban planning. By recognizing these aspiring industrial innovators and entrepreneurs, we pay respect to the thousands before who have created new designs, and troubled over their execution here at the Yard, from naval constructor to architect, engineer to entrepreneur.

Design is a dynamic process, requiring nimble response to unforeseen circumstances and ingenious adaptation by many involved in development and production.

Historically, at the Yard, journeymen who had ship plans but had decades of hands-on experience, could respond in a pinch with their unique skills – nimbly and often redesigning ships repaired here that had been built elsewhere.

Virtually each ship built here was a first in its class, or a prototype with new technologies, from the first successful U.S. steam warship, the USS Fulton II, built in 1837, to the super carriers and amphibious transport ships of the Cold War that surpassed other military ships in scale and capacity. Even in the last days of the Yard’s valued service to the Navy, designers and engineers could swiftly adapt and innovate. The USS Constellation with its famous hinged mast—the first of its kind—swept just under the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge leaving New York in 1962.

That craft and design expertise is maintained today inside the Yard’s varied buildings where hundreds of businesses operate, virtually every one with a designer or design team to research and develop the most sophisticated products. These range from Crye Precision’s custom gear for the U.S. Army’s Special Forces to Lumi•Solair’s solar/wind street lamps.

Also, the Yard’s proximity to state-of-the-art universities such as Pratt Institute, City Tech and NYU-Poly, each with renowned design faculty, allows us to take glimpses of the Yard’s possible manufacturing future with students concepts that you can see showcased in BLDG 92’s rotating exhibit, “Designing the Future.”

You can explore the design heritage of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the exhibits at BLDG 92, on behind-the-scenes Factory Tours, and regular Yard tours that highlight the diversity of architectural design, historic and modern sustainable infrastructure.

Are you an aspiring designer? Do you have the entrepreneurial spirit? Then we encourage you to hone your design skills during hands-on Tools & Talent classes and demonstrations with Yard designers and fabricators. Those who wish to develop a deeper relationship with Yard businesses are encouraged to buy local at the gift shop, and visit the Employment Center at BLDG 92 to learn about job opportunities.

For a calendar of events and to learn more, plan your visit online at

Daniella Romano is Vice President of BLDG 92 Exhibits and Programs where she directs operations of the exhibition and visitor center.  She conceives content for programs and exhibits and also facilitates growth of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archive.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.