We are back for 2015 and kicking off with some new initiatives and new discoveries! First off we have this intriguing, but down-on-its-luck building at the corner of Livingston and Smith Streets in downtown Brooklyn.
This was originally the American Fore Building, named for an insurance company that was located here, although they were not the owner or developer. It was built around 1959 and designed by Morris Lapidus’s firm. Lapidus, of course is known more for his exuberant Miami hotels, but he also designed office buildings, retail spaces, and residences. In various places this building is listed as designed by Morris Lapidus alone or by another iteration of his firm. The exterior originally was clad in anodized aluminum in blue-grey and bronze, as well as Italian mosaic tiles on the Smith Street facade. Some of these materials have been removed over time or remain in a decayed state. The Library of Congress has some images that show the original building as constructed or proposed.
The building housed various insurance companies for several decades but at some point became the Kings County Housing Court, which it remains today. This is not an ideal use for a former office building and according to a December 2014 article in The New York Times, the court plan to vacate the building in the next several years. This somewhat explains the rundown look, as Brooklyn is not interested in investing in the building longterm.
At some point the structure lost its original recessed entrance, which removed some of the elegance at ground level as seen in the second, original photo. Hopefully once the court moves out someone buys this building and rehabilitates it for office space again.