Looming over Flushing station, the Pfizer building wields an intimidating presence. Built in 1849 by the biopharmaceutical company for which it was named, it stands considerably tall for its eight stories with a dull white facade of concrete and blank, unrevealing windows. To enter, visitors must walk around the block, then pass through an iron gate and unlabeled doors.
The appeal of the Pfizer building isn’t its outward appearance, but the goings-on inside. Dozens of eateries use space there, hand-producing baked goods, pizza, sandwiches, and the like for outside locations while selling some products on-site at a lower price. The building’s bustling food scene is intriguing on its own, but even more relevant is the space in the building occupied by Pratt. Much of the seventh floor is made up of studios for Fine Arts graduate students, where artists study and work in airy, well-lit rooms while enjoying views of Manhattan’s skyline.
Pfizer is also home to the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator, a resource that helps artists in fashion and design create ethical, sustainable brands, research technology and production methods, and develop their businesses. The office is spacious and well-lit, with hallways lined with sustainable production strategy diagrams and material samples that result from these strategies. It’s like a studio at Pratt, but better.
The BF+DA’s space in the Pfizer building isn’t, unfortunately, open to visitors at all times—tours are scheduled on a semi-regular basis, but walk-ins aren’t welcome. It’s interesting that a program suitable for the future of many Pratt students isn’t well known by us, and somewhat inaccessible even to those who seek it out in person. However, by asking around Pratt’s fashion department and signing up for a tour ahead of time, any student would be exposed to a hub of opportunity. The top floor of Pratt’s Brooklyn library holds evidence of the BF+DA’s promise with a display of companies that have come out of it: Kirrin Finch, a clothing company that makes women’s clothing inspired by menswear, and Alder New York, a sustainable personal care brand founded by two Pratt fashion alumni.
The BF+DA is a little out of the way, even secretive, but much like the building it’s housed in, a little investigation is enough to unlock the possibilities it holds. The calendar sign-up page for tours and other BF+DA events is easily accessed online at https://bkaccelerator.com/allengage/month/. If the fresh, discounted food isn’t incentive enough to visit Pfizer, this niche program certainly is—especially for anyone hoping to discover the well-kept secrets of what Pratt has to offer its students.
Photography by Samuel Herrera