A shift is happening in manufacturing, bringing humans and machines closer together and making production more responsive to changing needs. The change is coming from companies that need flexible processes that allow their products to evolve with the needs of their customers. They also want their facilities not in industrial suburbs, but in amenity rich neighborhoods, so they can attract star talent. This new urban industrial wave is emerging in cities like Boston, Brussels, and New York City. The latest shift toward a rebirth of manufacturing is happening at Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, a converted ship-building site where a new kind of industry–less toxic, better paid, and offering upward mobility–is taking shape.
Crye Precision is one of the crowning manufacturing achievements of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, which is working to bring manufacturing jobs into a city with some of the highest rents in the country. The facility gleams. Inside the entrance is a still shrub and stone studded garden where workers practice Tai Chi. The long, big-windowed cafeteria where workers commune for lunch everyday is clean and sunlit. On the opposite side is a yet-to-be-developed showroom where customers can actually touch the products being developed there. The bottom floor along the sides of the building holds sewing and assembly rooms. On the top floor are offices, extra sewing facilities, sales, and product review areas. In the large middle is storage and product boxed up and waiting to be shipped.