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genspace

[I’m counting down to the release of the Brooklyn Spaces book by doing one mini-post per day, sharing teasers of some of the places you’ll find in it.]

neighborhood: downtown brooklyn | space type: community biolab | active since: 2010 | links: website, facebook, twitter

There’s a lot more to DIY in Brooklyn than underground music shows and bike-powered washing machines. Genspace, the first-ever nonprofit community biotech laboratory, aims to demystify scientific experimentation. “Members are free to experiment with whatever they want, as long as it follows biosafety guidelines,” says molecular biologist Dr. Ellen Jorgensen, the Executive Director and cofounder of the space. “It doesn’t have to make money; it doesn’t even have to make sense. This is a truly innovative space.”

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pix by Kit Crenshaw

Housed in a corner of the huge old Metropolitan Exchange building, the lab, which is compatible with CDC’s Biosafety Level 1 standards, is constructed from salvaged glass doors and metal restaurant counters, and most of the equipment was donated or bought secondhand. Genspace members are working on a range of open-source projects, from liquid-handling robots to super-hardy plants that can survive on other planets. The space also hosts talks, workshops, and classes to engage people who are new to scientific experimentation. “Doing this has really restored my delight in my field,” Ellen says. “Watching people realize how awesome science is—that’s very uplifting.”

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Want to learn more about Genspace, and 49 other incredible Brooklyn Spaces? Buy the book!