In 2011, the President of the Brooklyn Navy Yard invited David Belt to visit Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 128, a deserted, rotted-out, but beautiful iron skeleton of American's manufacturing past. Belt, a real estate developer and founder of Macro Sea, had a zeal for bringing historic properties back into cultural relevance. He invited his friend and sometime collaborator Scott Cohen to walk with him through the primary machine shop for every major ship launched during World Wars One and Two. Belt and Cohen’s discussion turned to what constituted “state-of-the-art” both then and today.
The historical significance of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, coupled with a present-day need to provide NYC’s design and manufacturing community access to the tools and space it needed to address the current era of manufacturing challenges, formed the impetus for Belt and Cohen to create New Lab. Belt worked with his team at Macro Sea to design and develop the project alongside his project management firm DBI. Cohen dedicated himself to learning about the technologies and companies that would take up residence in New Lab. The partners developed a plan that would repurpose the 51,000 sq. ft. machine shop into an 84,000 sq. ft. multidisciplinary design, prototyping, and advanced manufacturing hub.
Macro Sea’s “New Lab” is creating a facility where entrepreneurs, designers, fabricators and researchers collaborate to create new products and new businesses. This will be among the first and largest centers of innovative design and fabrication in the world and reaffirm the role of the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a hub of advanced manufacturing. As master tenant, New Lab has transformed 84,000 square feet of space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Green Manufacturing Building, another NYC REDC project, through a $20 million capital project, creating 347 jobs. New Lab was awarded $1.25 million in ESD grant assistance in Round II of the CFA, and later received an additional $2 million in ESD assistance. New Lab has already established significant partnerships with Autodesk, EOS, 3DSystems and Ultimaker.
In Round V of the CFA, the NYC REDC awarded a $750,000 ESD capital grant for the build out of a $6.4 million Smart Cities Innovation Center at New Lab that offers facilities and services to support companies that are designing and building hardware for smart cities. The Center is New York’s first smart cities incubator and will be part of an advanced manufacturing project that can expand export activity through the Governor’s Global NY program. It will offer opportunities for collaboration, new access to specialized equipment, mentoring and direct connections to government agencies that are potential clients and beneficiaries of new products. The Smart Cities Center will also provide new opportunities for companies to pilot and test products in urban environments.