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Brooklyn filmmaker, library and park win Municipal Art Society honors

March 11, 2019 Lore Croghan
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A prestigious civic organization has singled out a Brooklyn-based filmmaker, a Sunset Park library and a waterfront Williamsburg park for their contributions to the cultural life of New York City.

The Municipal Art Society selected Stephen Maing as the recipient of its 2019 Brendan Gill Prize for his high-impact documentary about the NYPD called “Crime + Punishment,” the arts group recently announced. And the organization chose Sunset Park Interim Library and Domino Park as two recipients of its MASterworks Awards.

The Municipal Art Society, known by its acronym MAS, is a 125-year-old advocacy group that promotes diverse neighborhoods, urban planning that’s mindful of community needs and the preservation of historic and cultural landmarks.

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An intimate look at NYPD whistleblowers

The Municipal Art Society gives the Brendan Gill Prize to the creator of a specific book, play, film, painting or other work “that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City,” the awards announcement said.    

Maing, the 2019 winner, is an Emmy-nominated documentary maker. His film “Crime + Punishment” earned a Special Jury Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

The documentary offers an intimate look at a group of whistleblower officers called the NYPD12 who filed a class-action lawsuit that challenges policing quotas.

In its awards announcement, the Municipal Art Society calls the film “a masterful example of filmmaking, both in craft and content.”

Maing spent four years making the film, which he crafted from more than 1,000 hours of footage.

“This is not just about disgruntled cops who have a bone to pick or want to be famous and make money,” Maing told the Guardian in a 2018 interview. “They’re cops who believe in the mission of policing itself.”

New life for an old Brooklyn courtroom

The Municipal Art Society is giving the Sunset Park Interim Library a MASterworks Award for Best Adaptive Reuse.

The MASterworks Awards “pay tribute to projects that make a significant contribution to New York City’s built environment,” the organization said in its announcement.

Leroy Street Studio designed a user-friendly space for the Brooklyn Public Library in an old courtroom at the landmarked former Sunset Park Courthouse at 4201 Fourth Ave.

The Sunset Park Interim Library is located inside a landmarked former courthouse. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

The interim library opened in May 2018. It’s needed as a temporary replacement for the neighborhood branch at 5108 Fourth Ave., which is being replaced with an eight-story apartment building with affordable-housing units and space for a new library in it.

The NYPD made space available for the creation of the Sunset Park Interim Library.

In addition to an extensive multilingual book collection, it has a station where library patrons can check out laptops.

“The project reflects an intelligent, efficient and careful reimagining of the existing Neoclassical building details to create a vibrant and impactful community space,” the Municipal Art Society said in its awards announcement.

Here’s a glimpse of the Sunset Park Interim Library, which has won a MASterworks Award. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Leroy Street Studio helped neighborhood teenagers design artworks that serve as window shades in the interim library, the Brooklyn Eagle’s sister publication, the Brooklyn Reporter, reported last year.

The city designated the former Sunset Park Courthouse as an individual landmark in 2001.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report about 4201 Fourth Ave. says Mortimer Dickerson Metcalfe designed the Classical Revival-style building, which the city built in 1931. It has columns like an ancient Greek temple’s.

New life for a closed-off section of Williamsburg’s waterfront

The Municipal Art Society is giving Domino Park a MASterworks Award for Best New Urban Amenity.

Two Trees Management built the six-acre waterfront park on part of its Domino Sugar Refinery residential, office and retail development site. The park opened in June 2018.

Williamsburg’s Domino Park is a recipient of a MASterworks Award. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan

James Corner Field Operations, the landscape architecture firm that designed it, is best known for its work on the popular High Line in the Meatpacking District and Chelsea.

Domino Park includes a walkway on a quarter-mile expanse of East River shoreline that has been closed off to the public since sugar production started on the property in the 19th century. The park displays gantry cranes and other equipment salvaged from the Domino Sugar Refinery, which operated on the site until 2004.

Domino Park, which extends between Grand Street and South 5th Street, also features playground equipment Brooklyn artist Mark Reigelman designed that looks like miniature sugar-factory buildings.

The landmarked Domino Sugar Refinery stands tall beside Domino Park, which is a MASterworks Award-winner. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan

“The project thoughtfully engaged with community stakeholders in the design process and pays respect to the industrial history and features of the site,” the art society said in its awards statement.

Other award winners

Other 2019 MASterworks Award-winners include a building at Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus and Phase II of Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park in Long Island City.

The restoration of 1880s SoHo building 462 Broadway and a waterfront park on the Lower East Side’s Pier 35 also won MASterworks Awards.   

The Municipal Art Society’s awards ceremony is set for March 28. It will be held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. Click here for more info about the ceremony.  

Follow Brooklyn Eagle reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

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