John Cronin and the Beacon Institute

John Cronin and the Beacon Institute

By Julie Taraska
For 35 years, John Cronin has safeguarded New York’s waterways, investigating dozens of pollution cases and authoring three laws to protect the Hudson River and its communities. So when Cronin, director and CEO of the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, began planning the institute’s first research facility, the Center for Environmental Innovation and Education, he knew its physical form should embody its ecological ideals. Instead of just building green, he went one better: Working with international architecture and design firm Gensler, he transformed an abandoned 19th-century brick factory into a state-of-the-art structure packed with sustainable technologies.

Cronin found the dilapidated 4,000-square-foot building in Beacon, New York, on a former industrial section of Denning’s Point State Park. "It was covered with vines, all the windows were gone, there were big holes in the roof, and its cement slabs were cracked and heaved," he says. Physical limitations determined what interventions could—and could not—be made.

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