When leaders of the Federation of Italian-American Organizations of Brooklyn sat down to plan their new community center in Bensonhurst, they knew they wanted the building to be large enough to house the various programs they sponsor and also that they wanted the structure to make efficient use of be energy.
Their goal of ensuring that the community center, called Il Centro, would be an energy saver has certainly paid off for federation leaders. Il Centro, located at 8711 18th Ave., has won a Building Brooklyn Award from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
Il Centro, which is Italian for “The Center,” won the National Grid Award for Energy Efficiency.
The building is one 11 new structures in the borough cited by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce as part of the organization’s annual Building Brooklyn Awards. The awards ceremony will take place Aug. 1 at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge.
The chamber has been handing out the awards for 18 years. This year’s judges included architects, government officials, economic development experts and business leaders.
“It’s nice to see us really be recognized,” Federation President Carlo Scissura told this newspaper on Monday, July 23. Scissura is the former president of the chamber.
Another Southwest Brooklyn building, the District 20 Pre-K Center at 1423 62nd St., was also named a Building Brooklyn Award winner. The pre-k center was constructed in a former warehouse.
“It’s great to see the variety of thoughtful projects making up this year’s mix of winners,” Acting Chamber President Rick Russo said in a statement. “These awards represent the very best of Brooklyn’s design and build community, and we congratulate all the winners for their innovative and impactful work which adds to the quality of life for all Brooklynites.”
The six-story, 40,000-square-foot Il Centro, which was designed by Gensler and built by D’Onofrio General Contractors Corp., uses energy conserving faucets, low flush toilets, light sensors and floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for most of the lights to remain off for large portions of the day.
Il Centro is the first Italian-American cultural to be built in New York City. The building contains classrooms, a cultural library, a kitchen, a fitness center, gym, meeting rooms, offices and an indoor swimming pool.
“It features lots of natural light,” Scissura said. “We wanted the building to make a great contribution to the community in terms of what it offers and to spur economic development in the community.”
The Scissura family paid a visit to Il Centro on Sunday. Scissura said he worked out at the gym while his three-year-old daughter was in an Italian language class and his mother Theresa was riding on a stationary bicycle.
The District 20 Pre-K Center will receive the Education Award at the Aug. 1 ceremony.
The 18-classroom facility was constructed in a warehouse that dates back to 1925. The architect for the pre-k project was Doban Architecture. The builder was Citnalta Construction. The New York City School Construction Authority supervised the project.
It is one of the largest education centers to be built as part of the de Blasio administration’s Universal Pre-K Initiative.
The location of the building, between the elevated D-line train and a Long Island Rail Road cut, influenced the design and construction, according to the chamber. The main entrance was moved and the project included noise abatement features.
For more information, visit: www.buildingbrooklynawards.com.