Residents in the heart of Crown Heights are watching Rafael Vinoly's Brooklyn Children's Museum renovation take shape one stud at a time. When we visited the construction site at the northwest corner of Brower Park yesterday, the L-shaped steel frame was up and the concrete floor was firmly set.

The $62 million project - to be completed in late 2007 - is also the city's first green museum. (It was the "first museum designed especially for children"). Think 300-foot-deep geothermal wells (for heating and cooling), photovoltaic panels (for electricity), carbon dioxide and body heat sensors (for monitoring exhibition spaces) and renewable materials like cork, rubber, recycled carpet and, yes, bamboo.


While we're not sure how the bold yellow exterior will blend with the area's brownstones and Victorian homes, we see the century-old museum's facelift as a model for coexisting with neighbors. With second-floor porthole windows and plenty of street-level glass, the outward-looking design gives Jane Jacobs' "eyes on the street" a renewed relevance.


And the Brooklyn Children's Museum is open during its renovations. The museum is on the corner of St. Marks Avenue and Brooklyn Avenue, and tomorrow, the Green Dollhouse exhibit opens - "Dollhouses created by professional architects and design students feature “green” architecture in miniature scale."