88 Essex Street
Architect: SHoP Architects
While food halls are “The Thing” developers build nowadays to lure Instagram-hungry foodies, an O.G. grocery and snack palace quietly thrived for almost 80 years on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The city-owned Essex Street Market, home to dozens of vendors, was a delightful institution where you could buy whole branzini, munch on empanadas, and get a haircut without leaving the building. While vendors thrived, economic pressures compelled the city to move the market from its old location.
As of May 2019, the relocated food palace has a shorter name and bigger digs. Designed by New York’s SHoP Architects, the newly christened Essex Market’s slanted, scalloped ceilings echo vaulted subway stations and shed warm light on shoppers who wander between the 37 stalls or hunker down to eat in the mezzanine. SHoP collaborated with Hi-Lume Corp., which packed GFRG into textured molds to form the ceiling’s 3-D patterning. On the floor, ShoP worked with AGL Industries, Inc., a Queens-based steel company, on simple metal frames that vendors tailor to their concepts.
Essex Market is part of Essex Crossing, a 20-acre development, with nine buildings and a master plan executed by SHoP. In October, the market will link to The Market Line, a subterranean corridor of food purveyors. Get ready to eat up.