Several weeks ago I went to a party in an old, abandoned-looking parking garage in Brooklyn. It wasn’t so different from any other hip Brooklyn party hosted in an industrial building gone to seed—there was cheap beer, graffiti on the walls, detritus and construction equipment. Eventually the cops showed up. "Is that a Buddha?" one of the boys in blue said, and pointed to a figure high up on the wall. It was. Bright pink, too.
“And this room, over here, will be for kids’ climbing classes,” said Lance Pinn, 25, co-founder and manager of Brooklyn Boulders, a new climbing gym that is the largest in the five boroughs. Pin deftly shuttled the policemen into another well lit, brightly graffiti-ed corner of the 1,800-square-foot space (it was, indeed, once a parking garage used by the Daily News). The other founder and owner of the outfit, Stephen Spaeth, also 25, worked the room. His family’s company, Spaeth Designs, retrofitted much of the place, and built a reinforced steel stalactite that falls more than 30 feet from the ceiling and a Brooklyn Bridge-like tower covered in climbing holds. Spaeth Designs also constructs elaborate Christmas windows for Macy's in Manhattan.
There were a few dozen people attending that evening’s pre-launch, buzz-generating climbing session at BKB (shorthand for Brooklyn Boulders). The space is a labyrinthine, and difficult to get a sense of—I had a lot of trouble capturing it in any one photograph. After their impromptu tour of the place, I asked one of the officers what he thought of the space. “I can’t believe it,” he said.
Brooklyn Boulders officially opens 09.09.09, but you can currently climb there (3rd Ave and DeGraw, near Park Slope) from 6:00 to 10:00 weekdays. For rates, classes, and general info check brooklynboulders.com.—Text and photographs by Ryan Bradley