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The Brooklyn Saxophone Apartment Building Is a Work of Art

Leading architectural critics (me) agree.

9:22 AM EDT on March 14, 2023

Three edited images that capture the ugly, glorious spirit of 1079 Fulton St, aka Brooklyn's saxophone apartment building.

(Hell Gate)

The Statue of Liberty. The Empire State Building. The Brooklyn Bridge. 1079 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11238, AKA "the saxophone apartment building." What do all of these locations have in common? They're iconic New York City landmarks—the latter is just the most recent addition to the superstar lineup.

Fame never comes without controversy. To a lot of people, 1079 Fulton is an abomination. The 30-unit Bed-Stuy building, which remains under construction at the time of this blog post, has been called ugly, tacky, "bizarre," and "busted." 

And that might all be true. But that's what makes it awesome. In a sea of dorms, it dares to be a one-star Disney World hotel. It is as visually loud as the instrument emblazoned on it, and in a neighborhood already subject to the creep of other ugly, boring apartment buildings, it's nice to see something new that has an actual personality—even if that personality is flashy and cheesy with a dash of pretension, like a "fancy" wine bar at an airport.

According to Real Estate Weekly, 1079 Fulton was built in 2004 as a seven-unit apartment building. Most recently, it housed a homeless shelter that vacated the property in 2021, when developers (former middle school band teachers, perhaps?) snapped it up. Sadly, I couldn't find any information about when we'll all be able to pay $4,000-ish a month to live behind the sax, but the building already has its own page on StreetEasy for your bookmarking convenience. 

The building itself, which sits on the corner of Classon Avenue and Fulton Street in Bed-Stuy, is not a looker. Off-white and slate gray, for a newly constructed apartment building? Groundbreaking. Its small, narrow windows are a shape and size that's gotta be horrible for producing "natural light," one of Brooklyn's most coveted rental commodities; but they're numerous enough to conjure up what I can only call "trypophobia vibes." It would be just another residence in the butt-ugly college dorm/suburban dentist office style that's so popular in North and Central Brooklyn's gentrifying neighborhoods—if it wasn't for the building's special, musical flare.

I would venture a guess that the saxophone mural is supposed to look like it was painted on a sandwich board in front of a bar or restaurant that makes you listen to jazz. It's not art I'd hang in my apartment, but it's art I absolutely love to see on the walk home from Hart's or Doris or The Fly when I'm three drinks in on a Monday night. 

But for me, the real panty-dropper when it comes to the saxophone apartment building is that blue awning just next to its future front door. A closer inspection reveals that awning is designed to look like a grand piano through a combination of lighting and architecture. I was honestly so floored that I can't really describe this revelation in words, so here's a video below: 

(Hell Gate)

Like, holy shit, right? That's commitment. And to me, that's beautiful.

—Katie Way

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