A+I Transforms Part of a Commercial Compound Near DUMBO into a Tech-Forward Office

For decades, a glowing red sign reading “Watchtower” sat atop a fortresslike building near the Brooklyn Bridge, signaling it as the world headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. When the denomination relocated from Brooklyn Heights to Upstate New York, the sprawling multibuilding campus was redeveloped for commercial use and its new owners erected a 15-foot-tall LED-illuminated sign with a different message: “Welcome.”

A+I was commissioned to transform 175 Pearl Street—a portion of the compound on the edge of the adjoining DUMBO neighborhood—into office space with creative and tech tenants in mind. Though in its previous life the building was largely closed to outsiders, its latest iteration is more inclusive and inviting. “It feels definitively connected to the community,” A+I co-founder and Interior Design Hall of Fame member Brad Zizmor says. In the lobby, an energetic mural titled Monday Morning by local artist Tomi Um conveys an immediate sense of place with its imagery of commuters bustling across the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.

When conceiving the amenity spaces, A+I took advantage of the fact that the eight-story structure is located on the highest point in the area, transforming a previously unused rooftop into a terraced outdoor deck with synthetic turf and white-oak seating nooks. “It’s a wow space that didn’t break the budget,” cofounder and fellow Interior Design HoF member Dag Folger adds. On the exterior of the stair tower connecting the roof to the offices—and visible from the Brooklyn Bridge—is a floral mural by Crown Heights artist Mike Perry that spells out the universal greeting, “Hi.”

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