Last night, SHoP‘s Gregg Pasquarelli presented plans to Community Board 1 for South Street Seaport’s Pier 17. Not surprisingly, the reception was positive. The design is a huge departure from the desolate barn-like mall developed by the Rouse Corporation in the 1980s, where to this day nachos and tropical cocktails remain de rigueur. The new owner, the Howard Hughes Corporation, hopes to bring New Yorkers back to one of the most spectacular sites in town, while welcoming tourists and not quarantining them in a thematic trap.
Angelica Trevino and Thorsten Kiefer are SHoP’s project managers. In a telephone interview, Trevino parsed the details…
The new pier will contain four stories of retail with a green roof that would hold two pavilions, one for music and the other for a restaurant, and the entire structure features an exposed steel frame. The landscape, designed by James Corner Field Operations, includes the rooftop, a large deck to the north overlooking the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, and a plaza to the south.
The first two stories of the pier include the ground floor and a mezzanine with two story high glass doors that will slide open vertically. When open, the doors front the glass enclosed second and third stories. Shops on the first two stories set back several feet from the openings. The architects refer to the area as “The Village.”
The storefronts in lower the section are a series of shifting volumes clad in wood, textured aluminum and zinc. A large east/west opening runs through the pier forming an extension to the mainland grid, while two diagonal cuts also run through the space so as to open view corridors of the Brooklyn Bridge to the piers.
On the East River side of the building, two metal mesh gangplank stairs ascend up from the east/west opening to the glass enclosed third floor. The glass wrapping the third and fourth floors plays with the notion of the pixilation. As support columns are 20 feet apart, five vertical sections, four feet wide, set back a foot and half, then return, set back, and return—lapping to and fro, like East River ripples. A combination of channel glass and vision glass heighten the effect. “We didn’t want it to be a taut glass box,” said Trevino. “We wanted it to have some articulation, to break up the mass and resemble some of the waterfront tectonics.”
Inspired by open-air concert hall at Tanglewoood, a rooftop glass enclosure (60’ x120’) will hold and audience of 500 to 600. In warm months, the pavilion doors will open and music will spill onto a rooftop lawn. A smaller pavilion to the east will house a restaurant.
To the north of the pier, a plaza by Field Operations called the “North Porch” will provide one of the most iconic views in the city, with Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge in the very near foreground. More pixilated patterns fall underfoot in wood, saw cut cobblestone, and solar pavers that absorb light in the day and give off light at night. On the south side Fulton Plaza will be transformed with wood reclaimed from the old pier.
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