Search results for "James Corner Field Operations"

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nARCHITECTS reveals Café Pavilion for Cleveland’s revamped Public Square
New renderings for one of the largest public space projects in the Midwest have been revealed, showing a new 2,500-square-foot “Café Pavilion” in Cleveland's Public Square. Brooklyn's nARCHITECTS designed the structure, which appears in renderings via project lead James Corner Field Operations. It will be the only structure on the 10-acre square, besides the existing Soldiers and Sailors' Civil War monument. Cleveland's Public Square is the subject of a major overhaul led by designers and engineers at at James Corner Field Operations, Cleveland's own LAND Studio and Westlake Reed Leskosky, as well as transportation consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard. The project aims to remake the splintered downtown park into a pedestrian-friendly destination that will catalyze development in the area. The cafe structure will serve as a billboard for that transformation. A curated “art wall” faces out, beckoning pedestrians passing by Terminal Tower and acting as the primary entrance to Public Square. Stainless steel panels and tall glass windows broadcast modernity on the building's other faces. “As a building with no back, each side of the Café Pavilion is meant to be a unique ‘front’ façade that offers a different experience,” reads the project description. The cafe, currently under construction, is expected to open in 2016.
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James Corner Field Operations unveils initial plans for The Underline, a 10-mile linear park in Miami
It has become common fair to refer to any and all rails-to-trails project as a certain city’s “High Line. ” (Yup, we've been guilty of that too.) The ubiquitous High Line comparison might be flattering, but it's obviously too simplistic. It glosses over site-specific details and rings a bit too New York–centric. With that said, it would be best to mention Miami’s planned 10-mile (non-elevated) park without namechecking the gold standard up north. But the Magic City is really asking for it with this one. First, it is called “The Underline." And second, High Line co-designer James Corner Field Operations has been tapped to oversee it. Field Operations and Friends of the Underline recently unveiled conceptual renderings of the linear park which runs underneath the city's elevated Metrorail. The plan envisions two pathways—one for cyclists and one for pedestrians—that run through a network of small parks, seating areas, and kiosks. In this sense, the Underline is designed to be a transportation corridor, less like the High Line and more like Chicago’s recently opened 606. Curbed Miami reported that "Landscaping, consisting of low-maintenance native species, would be divided into ecosystems reflective of South Florida's natural setting: a pine rocklands, hardwood hammocks, and wet prairies." The exposed concrete supports underneath the Metrorail tracks would also be used as mile markers and, in some sections, canvasses for murals. The Real Deal reported that Friends of the Underline hopes to eventually fund the project with a mix of private and public donations. In the meantime, the project continues to garner interest—and financial support. This week, ArtPlace America—a national non-profit that supports arts initiative—announced that the project had been selected for a $200,000 grant. This money will go into the planning process, and follows a recent $250,000 grant from the Knight Foundation.
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The Miller Hull Partnership expands Seattle’s Pike Place Market
Work is underway on MarketFront, a multi-level extension of Seattle’s Pike Place Market designed by The Miller Hull Partnership. The project broke ground in late June after an extensive community and city process. At stake is the question: How do you create an addition for an icon? The answer: Carefully. “It's a huge responsibility,” noted architect David Miller, a founding partner of The Miller Hull Partnership and lead designer on the project. “We’ve listened to the client and to the people who live and work in the community. Twenty to thirty people would come to every public meeting and ask good questions. The group was strongly opinionated, but also very smart and artistic.” Pike Place Market is more than simply a spot where some ten million tourists come each year to watch fishmongers gracefully toss salmon, it’s a historic site that survived urban renewal and as one of the oldest, continually operated farmer’s markets in the country, it is home to dozens and dozens of local vendors and artisans. It’s critical that Miller and team preserve the character of the market as they weave a new structure into a context of converted warehouse buildings on one side and the soon-to-be-demolished Alaskan Way Viaduct on the other. The design maintains the language of the older buildings through utilitarian materials—wood, steel, and concrete—that echo the industrial architecture. “It is really a utilitarian, no frills structure,” explained Miller. With that simple pallette, The Miller Hull Partnership added 47 new daystalls for farmers and craft artists, new retail space for a brewery and brew pub (including grain silos), and 40 affordable housing units for seniors, some with outdoor space for them to set up their own stalls. The scheme also includes social services—low-income day care, a food bank, and medical services—and parking for cars and bikes. The $73-million dollar project is located along Western Avenue, the street just behind the famous portion of the existing market topped with bright red letters. A two-story structure that is more landscape than building, it occupies the site of the former Municipal Market Building, which was torn down in 1974 after a fire. The new building features an expansive roof deck that offers and preserves views of Elliot Bay and the waterfront. Reached via Pike Place Market’s Desimone Bridge or stairs leading up one story from the street, the deck is part of a 30,000-square-foot public space that terraces down from Western Avenue to the Viaduct—a drop of roughly 85 feet. Once that roadway is removed, the MarketFront will serve as a pedestrian connection to the Seattle waterfront designed by James Corner Field Operations, which will stretch along Elliot Bay from Seattle’s Pioneer Square to Belltown. “The Pacific Northwest has this great environment that allows for connecting to the outdoors,” said Miller. “Even though it is in the middle of the city, it is a blend of landscape and architecture.” The project is scheduled to open prior to the final demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in 2016.
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Bjarke Ingels and James Corner give Philadelphia’s 214-year-old Navy Yard a boost into the 21st century
Bjarke Ingels is giving Philadelphia's antique Navy Yard a jolt into the 21st century. BIG teamed up with James Corner Field Operations to bring a $35 million office building, called 1200 Intrepid, featuring double curves designed to mirror the contours of Corner's surrounding landscape. "Our design for 1200 Intrepid has been shaped by the encounter between Robert Stern’s urban master plan of rectangular city blocks and James Corner’s iconic circular park,” Ingels said in a statement. “The ‘shock wave’ of the public space spreads like rings in the water invading the footprint of our building to create a generous urban canopy at the entrance.” The 94,000-square-foot, four-story structure just broke ground in the Navy Yard. It stands adjacent to the Central Green, a park that boasts circular plots occupied by a variety of trees and plants, pedestrian pathways, and a hammock grove. In addition, it offers a fitness station, a table tennis area, and a running track that 1200 Intrepid's design responds to. The park and building are part of Pennsylvania’s plan to transform this segment of South Philly from an industrialized business campus to a multi-functional industrial space that will accommodate 11,000 employees working for companies ranging from the pharmaceutical industry to Urban Outfitters. The plan to revitalize the Naval Yard began in 2004 when the state commissioned Michael van Valkenburgh Associates, Robert A.M. Stern, and numerous experts to create a master plan that “includes environmentally friendly workplaces, notable architecture, industrial development, great public spaces, waterfront amenities, improved mass transit, and residential development,” according to the Navy Yard website. Ingels’ building will help reach the Yard’s estimated goal of supporting up to $3 billion in private investments, 13.5 million square feet of development, and 30,000 people. Although 1200 Intrepid has yet to secure tenants, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal, it is set to open its doors in 2016. The project is being developed by Pennsylvania-based Liberty Property Trust and Synterra Partners.
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Splash Down by the River
The Riverwalk proposal was chosen for experiential attributes with design to follow.
Courtesy Snohetta

Willamette Falls, located fourteen miles upstream from Portland, Oregon, is the largest waterfall in the Pacific Northwest. But the natural wonder, its banks lined by historic industrial buildings, is not open to the public. That will change now that Oregon Governor Kate Brown has announced the selection of Mayer/Reed, Snøhetta, and DIALOG as the design team for the Riverwalk, an initial phase of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project. When completed, visitors will have access to the site for the first time in more than 100 years.

A consortium of public and private partners—Oregon City, Clackamas County, Metro, the State of Oregon, and Falls Legacy LLC—selected the multi-disciplinary team from a three-team shortlist that also included James Corner Field Operations with Place Studio and Miller Hull Partnership as well as a team of Walker Macy with Thomas Balsley Associates.

The construction budget for the first phase of the Riverwalk is $10 million. The design team will receive $650,000 in public and private funding to take the proposal through schematic design, with an additional $200,000 coming from the private landowner of the former Blue Heron site and the remainder from Metro, Oregon City, Clackamas County, and the State of Oregon.

The client asked the team not to present a design, per se, but ideas that reflect an approach to materials and the “spirit of the place.” A full design will be fleshed out through a participatory process with the community led by Portland-based engagement specialist JLA Public Involvement.

“The ephemeral qualities of the site were as important to us as the experience of the materials: reflections off the water, the sound of the falls, and the feeling of mist on skin,” recalled Michelle Delk, Snøhetta’s director of landscape architecture.

Evocative imagery and sensitivity to the natural and cultural histories distinguished the Mayer/Reed, Snøhetta, and DIALOG proposal. Lightweight walkways skirt the riverbank and weave in and out of the former Blue Heron Paper Mill, allowing visitors to take in sublime views of the falls and the old structures. According to Delk, the team interpreted the brief for a master plan as a “master section,” a document that cuts, almost archeologically, through the layers of the site: the geology, ecology, Native American occupation, and the industrial remains.



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Endgame: An Open Letter to the Guggenheim Helsinki Finalists
The following is an abridged version of an open letter by Chicago architect and urban planner Marshall Brown, which was originally presented at the The Design Competition Conference by the GSD and the Van Alen Institute. It follows a previous comment by the author for AN about the state of design competitions in the 21st century. It is in direct response to the Guggenheim Helsinki Competition, which attracted 1,715 submissions before the winner was announced yesterday My Dear Colleagues, I would like to extend sincere congratulations for your recent achievements and the recognition it has brought to your practices. I suppose you may be wondering about the cause for this letter since, at least that I can recall, we have never formally met. One year ago I wrote an essay for AN that criticized the current state of architectural competitions. It concluded with the melodramatic, yet also sincere invitation for likeminded architects to join me in “early, complete, and permanent retirement” from such contests. In the meantime I have mostly managed to follow through on my retreat from the design competition industry, despite several invitations from colleagues to collaborate. Instead of speaking negatively about the Helsinki contest, I would like to speak to the finalists, in hope that some of us might grow in the process, or at the very least, avoid undermining each other in the ways that architects too often do. In 2009 I worked briefly with J. Max Bond, David Adjaye, and Phil Freelon on the competition for the National Museum of African American History, until Max Bond’s untimely passing, after which I withdrew from the project. In 2012, my team was a finalist in the Navy Pier Centennial competition in Chicago, after which I consulted with the winners, James Corner Field Operations. But for various reasons, and despite some measure of success, participation in both of these contests, among others, left an assortment of bad tastes in my mouth. Without airing too much dirty laundry in public, I will say that I trace many of the problems to the nature of design competitions themselves: Competitions create a culture that devalues our labor. Competitions often cultivate animosity among colleagues. And competitions often preference spectacle over substantive architectural development. Your contest is an interesting case, since it involves an American institution staging a competition for a private building on public land in a European country. After examining the Competition Conditions, I found it evident that the competition is not for an architectural commission. The only prizes explicitly guaranteed to the winners are bragging rights and a small stipend. I look forward to being corrected if necessary, but the following passage from page 8 in the conditions seems to disclaim any obligation or commitment of the organizers to build the winning proposal: “A decision on whether to proceed with the construction and development of the museum is expected to be brought to the City of Helsinki and the State of Finland for consideration following the conclusion of the competition and the public announcement of the winning design.” So it appears that yours is actually an ideas competition and marketing campaign that might inspire a building project by someone, somewhere, sometime, in the future. Okay. Fine. The winners will receive enough money to recoup some portion of their actual costs. The rest will console themselves with whatever prestige falls from the brief afterglow of the whole spectacle. As I wrote last year, many architects don’t care that competitions are bad business. That discussion has been well covered by others with deeper knowledge of professional practice, and is not the point of this letter. I am only trying to ask: Where does it all end? How much of our careers and lives are we willing to give? How far will we bend for the ever more limited promise of increasingly uncertain rewards? Despite my early retirement, I had a recent reengagement with the competition industry. Against better judgement, I attended the final presentations for a major design competition in Chicago. It was a closed session for the organizers and a few members of the political and design communities. As usual, each team presented their requisite manifestos, slides, and video animations. I found the entire show to be excruciating, not because of the design proposals, but because of the architects’ performances. Their faces were a mixture of desperation and barely masked contempt for their self-imposed captivity. At one point I found myself head down, ears covered, and overwhelmed by the pathos of the whole scene. One contestant from a well-established Chicago firm actually stripped to reveal a t-shirt with their project logo. Free t-shirts were provided for all in attendance. I left the building that night feeling personal shame, not disappointment in those other architects, after realizing that I had subjected myself to the same indignities on a similar stage just two years ago. At the time I had felt privileged and honored to sit alongside so many accomplished and notable professionals like Bjarke Ingels, Martha Schwartz, and James Corner. But only after witnessing a similar scene from the outside do I now realize that I was just another sad prisoner in the lineup. So what is the end game? You will all submit your projects. After the submissions, you will likely be asked to give public presentations. These performances could be broadcast to the entire world. The jury will meet and hand down their decision. Prizes will be awarded. Critics will pass judgement. Some of you will receive more prestigious academic appointments. A museum may be built. Another blockbuster competition will probably be announced later this year. And we will all move on. Yet while writing this letter I have begun to imagine other endings to the story: What if you had decided not to complete your projects? What if you had completed the projects, but staged a group exhibition instead of handing them over? What if you had insisted on renegotiating the terms of the competition before submitting? What if you had all just walked away? Some will accuse me of being cynical, sanctimonious, overly judgmental, or naive. They may be right on all counts. But in my own defense, these words come from a colleague who has been where you are at this moment, and wishes that he could have sooner had the resolution and foresight to turn from this path we architects are expected to follow. As I wrote one year ago: “The old argument that competitions drive architectural innovation is no longer credible. Developers, cultural institutions, and government agencies have mastered the use of design competitions as publicity campaigns. Their claim of searching for the best ideas is just an alibi that unfortunately continues to seduce too many of our best talents… The real justifications are simple. Developers and institutions gain fantastic and relatively affordable publicity from the mad traveling circus of design competitions. By helping them attract financing and donors, we encourage the proliferation of these sham exercises where enormous projects are fully rendered without contracts, necessary approvals, or even clear programs.” From what I have been able to surmise from a brief examination, the GHDC submits fairly well to this assessment. But most of you probably knew this from the beginning, and soldiered forth regardless of the real odds or evident risks. Therefore I conclude this letter with thanks for your time, an open invitation to respond, and two simple words: Good luck. MARSHALL BROWN
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Making a Point
Courtesy Dattner

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is getting a new view. Directly across the East River from Gracie Mansion is Hallets Point, an industrial stretch on the Queens waterfront that will be turned into a 2.4-million-square-foot mixed-use project. STUDIO V initially did zoning schemes for the project, but this spring Dattner Architects stepped in to oversee design. When completed, the $1.5 billion mixed-use complex, which is being developed by the Durst Organization, will include about 2,400 apartments, 20 percent of which will be set below market-rate.

Dattner has revealed new renderings for the project’s first building, which is tentatively scheduled to break ground this fall. Daniel Heuberger, a principal at the firm, said the buildings (eight in total) will be constructed on a rolling basis with each taking about two years to build.


The first of the 80/20 buildings comprises a pair of 20-story towers that rise from a residential and retail podium. The base is clad in high-performance concrete panels and is topped with a landscaped amenity deck. The towers face each other at an oblique angle, their interior faces clad in reflective glass that will bounce light onto the interstitial outdoor community space.

The building’s street facades have more opacity. Here, Dattner uses a pattern of red panels meant to differentiate the building from the countless glass towers along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront. Heuberger said the two different cladding systems create something akin to a geode, as the building has a textured exterior and a crystalline interior.


Since this project sits right along the water, Dattner took steps to protect the buildings from rising sea levels and storm surge. During the ULURP process, all of the ground floor spaces were lifted five feet above street level. These structures will also be separated from the river by a waterfront park designed by James Corner Field Operations.

In terms of sustainability, Durst and Dattner have big goals. Heuberger said the entire project will generate its own electricity. To make that possible, new gas service will be brought into the project to power three co-generation plants. Waste heat from the generators will be used to heat the project’s water.

Along with a new supermarket and retail, the scheme also includes an MTA restroom and dispatch facility to support existing and possible future bus service to the area. Durst is also pushing for new private ferry service from the Queens waterfront to Manhattan. This seems plausible as Helena Rose Durst, a vice president at the organization, is also the president of New York Water Taxi.

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High Line designer James Corner tapped to design Miami’s “Underline” linear park
Just about every city on planet earth wants to build its own version of New York City's hugely popular High Line. The ever-growing list includes Miami that plans to turn a 10-mile stretch of underutilized land beneath its elevated Metrorail into a park and bike path. The project is called "The Underline" because, well, you get it. While there is no firm construction timeline for the project, James Corner Field Operations, the lead landscape architect behind the actual High Line, has been picked by a local jury to create a master plan for the park. The firm was selected out of 19 submissions and five finalists that included dlandstudio, Balmori Associates, Perkins + Will, and Stoss. The Miami Herald reported that the $500,00 design contract is being funded by local cities and private foundations. The design is due in September and no construction money has been secured just yet.
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SHoP Architects’ first tower at Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar site breaks ground with a refined design
As AN has been reporting for a while now, it's all systems go for the long-stalled Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment on the Brooklyn waterfront. Crews have been demolishing old structures on the site for months, and today we got word that the developer, Two Trees, is breaking ground on the massive project's first residential building: a 16-story, 500-unit rental building designed by SHoP, which is designing the entire project. In a press release, the developer noted that "approximately 105" of the 500 units will be designated as affordable. With news of the groundbreaking also comes a new rendering of the building that gives us a better sense of its design. While its overall form appears to be roughly the same, with terraces that create a cascading effect, its materials have clearly changed. Atop a masonry podium, SHoP said the building will be clad in industrial materials like zinc and copper. The building is slated to be completed in 2017. Two Trees also announced that it's starting to repair the site's waterfront pier to accommodate an upcoming 5-plus acre public park designed by James Corner Field Operations. This prep work is expected to take between 12 and 18 months.
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Aiming High
A tower proposal by Duval Development on the Minneapolis skyline.
Courtesy respective companies

The City of Minneapolis hopes to remake a downtown parking lot and bus layover as “the gateway to the entire downtown area". Three proposals are currently under review, but one ambitious scheme—a tower high enough to become the tallest building in Minnesota—has already been rejected by city planners.

A 1.7-acre, city-owned block at 30 Third Street South, the property is commonly referred to as the Nicollet Hotel Block for its former use and adjacency to the Nicollet Mall, itself currently the focus of an ambitious $50 million redesign led by James Corner Field Operations. The city’s request for proposals called for a mixed-use development at least 20 stories tall with “integrated public/green space amenities.” In December, officials announced they’d accepted proposals from four Twin Cities developers: Doran Development, Mortenson, United Properties Investment, and Duval Development.

Doran’s plan calls for a 30-story tower with residential units, a hotel building, restaurant and retail space, and elevated gardens. The architect is Minneapolis-based Boarman Kroos Vogel Group.

From left, Nicollet Hotel Block proposals from United Properties Investment, Duval Development, and Mortenson.

Mortenson proposed a 31-story residential tower with 273 apartments; a hotel, a five-story office complex and a 15,000-square-foot gateway plaza that renderings show in winter boasting seasonal art and an ice skating rink. Their plan—which counts as team members The Excelsior Group, Coen+Partners, ESG Architects, and RSP Architects—would include both elevated and underground parking, although the amount is not specified.

“We embrace the City’s vision for an iconic design and sustainable urban space that connects the Gateway District and welcomes the community,” said Bob Solfelt, Mortenson’s vice president and general manager, in a press release. (Mortenson declined further comment while the proposals are under city review.)

United Properties goes a bit higher, offering a 36-story luxury residential tower with 300 units and a full-service Hilton hotel. Their design, by LHB, includes a “year-round, street-level activity park” that the project team said will embrace a forthcoming trolley car line planned for 2018. Their plans also call for elevated outdoor spaces on both the hotel and apartments, as well as a rising pattern of LED-lit mullions that would illuminate the building facade at night.

Duval’s plan was the most ambitious in scale. At 80 stories, it would have surpassed Philip Johnson’s IDS Center as the state’s tallest building. Developer Alex Duval said the time is right for just such a high-density development in the area. “[Minneapolis] has the fourth highest median household income per capita of large cities in the U.S., trailing only San Francisco, New York, and Washington D.C.,” said Duval. “Minneapolis has been undergoing a transformation of its historically industrial riverfront to a residential, cultural, and recreational waterfront… The Nicollet Hotel Block is at the center point of this zone.”

City planners disagreed, however, citing concerns about the scale of the building and Duval's assessment of the local real estate market in a January decision to strike the proposal.

The glassy tower would have housed 220 apartments and an unspecified amount of office space, as well as TV and radio studios on the ground level, beneath six floors of parking. Architect Ralph Johnson, principal of Perkins + Will, described the building as “a series of interlocking volumes expressed by reveals and a central atrium,” terminating at the top with a beacon-like, illuminated glass veil.

In a poll conducted by the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal, two-thirds of the 1,286 respondents said they preferred Duval’s plan.

The remaining three proposals await public review and zoning considerations.

The city said it will sell the property at market value with no public subsidy. Construction is expected to begin in early- to mid-2016.

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Patience Is A Virtue
An overlook providing sweeping views.
Courtesy Field Operations

The Presidio Trust—the organization that helps manage the Presidio, a park at the northern tip of San Francisco that was once a military post—has selected a winning design team for a 13-acre plot of land near the Golden Gate Bridge.

After abandoning a plan for a nearby site in the Presidio last February, (that included among three final proposals a plan for George Lucas’ art collection), the Trust then launched a new competition last spring.

Last month the Trust announced the winning team for what they have dubbed the “New Presidio Parklands.” The 13-acre park would cover a series of tunnels set to open in 2016 to replace the elevated Doyle Drive.

Children play in the tall grass, with the Golden Gate bridge in the background.

New York–based James Corner Field Operations will take the helm with San Francisco–based architecture firm EHDD (which was a finalist in the abandoned competition and part of a team for the new one, headed by CMG Landscape Architecture). Four other teams were shortlisted, including Snøhetta, OLIN, CMG, and West 8.

Presidio Point, Field Operations’ early concept design for the new park, is somewhat understated, uniting two Presidio landmarks—Crissy Field and the Main Post—through a series of boomerang-shaped lookouts emphasizing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay. Key elements include two major intersecting pathways, observation posts, lawns, and serpentine wood benches.

A natural amphitheater for events.

The Presidio Trust hopes to create a more adaptable, connected, and social space on the site. Craig Middleton, the Presidio Trust executive director, noted Field Operations’ “deep appreciation for the site, and commitment to engaging the community” as reasons for selecting the firm.

This marks another major collaborative effort for Field Operations, who is designing and has designed major parks and public spaces worldwide, including the 26-block waterfront park in Seattle, Freshkills Park on Staten Island, Santa Monica’s Tongva Park, Chicago’s Navy Pier, Busan Civic Park in South Korea, and the High Line.


“The new Presidio Parklands site will afford magnificent 360 degree views in all directions, making sense of San Francisco’s geography and place in nature’s larger milieu. The sheer potential unleashed from simply connecting the spaces of the Presidio with those of Crissy Field, the marsh and the bay, is unparalleled,” said Richard Kennedy, principal at Field Operations and lead designer for the project.

The park design is still in its infancy—the Presidio Trust has emphasized that a final design will be shaped by public participation, with workshops in early 2015. A tentative budget is set at $51 million, with over $34 million already met. Several private donors have stepped forward, with a $25 million gift from the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, the largest donation to a national park ever. Expected completion is in 2018.

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Changing Tack
Courtesy SHoP

The most contested development site in New York City sits above water. For the past year, residents of Lower Manhattan, backed by influential city officials, have been trying to keep the Howard Hughes Corporation from building a 650-foot, SHoP-designed tower between the Brooklyn Bridge and the South Street Seaport. In an effort to appease the opposition—and to keep its battered development plans intact—Howard Hughes has proposed a new path forward.

Most notably, the plan’s controversial centerpiece, the tower, has been reduced by 10 stories, now topping off just shy of 500 feet. The building’s height has been a major concern for the Seaport Working Group, a coalition of local officials, business owners, and residents that created a set of non-binding guidelines for Howard Hughes to follow.

With the height change also comes an aesthetic overhaul. The previous tower—which appeared like stacked bronze bands—has been replaced with a glassier, more angular structure. Deep-set wood boxes are cut into the glass facade forming terraces for the luxury condos. “Historically, buildings on piers are always made out of more lightweight materials,” said Gregg Pasquarelli, a principal at SHoP, when unveiling the new design. “They are made of metal and glass and wood—never stone and brick.” He explained that the tower’s carved and tapering appearance was inspired by the sails of the Seaport’s ships.


The building’s podium houses retail and a public middle school for the community. To protect the structure from storms like Sandy, which devastated the Seaport, its ground floor and its mechanical systems were lifted above the 100-year floodplain.

“We know it is a tall building,” said Pasquarelli, “but it is really a driver for getting all these other community benefits.” The Howard Hughes Corporation said if the tower is built at its revised height, it will inject $171 million worth of private investment into infrastructure and public space improvements at the Seaport. Unsurprisingly, when unveiling the plan, the Howard Hughes Corporation was noticeably more eager to talk about this funding commitment than the tower itself.

First, 30 percent of the residential tower would be affordable, but these units (about 60) would likely be in the Seaport’s low-slung, historic Schermerhorn Row. SHoP and Howard Hughes consider this to be “on-site” because they are part of the same overall project. "This is no poor door,” said Pasquarelli, “this is an exquisite 18th Century door in really beautiful buildings."


At a cost of $54 million, the team pushes the existing Tin Building back from the FDR by 30 feet and transforms it into a food hall. Moving the structure makes it more publicly accessible and clears a connection for the East River Esplanade. SHoP also proposes lighting and pavilions underneath the roadway as well as an extension of Beekman and Fulton Streets onto the pier. This, they say, would plug the site back into the city grid. A new marina is also planned just north of the tower. The new open space components of the plan are designed by James Corner Field Operations and will have “High Line-level quality,” according to Pasquarelli. The Howard Hughes Corporation also provided capital to the Seaport Museum, but said it will work with the institution on how to best spend it.

Henry Melcher / AN

This package of proposals will go before Community Board 1’s Landmark Committee in December, and then the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in January. After that, it heads to ULURP. The tower itself sits just outside of the Seaport Historic District. The boundary line cuts directly through Pier 17—SHoP’s under-construction, greenroof-topped commercial complex.

But even with a new plan unveiled, and a tentative schedule set, the dynamic of this battle remains largely unchanged. Howard Hughes said it will work with the community moving forward, but has effectively drawn a line in the sand. “We are going to need something more to give more,” said David Weinreb, the company’s CEO, at a press conference. “We have put everything on the table that we have.” Transferring air rights to build somewhere else, he added, is not a feasible option.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, a founding member of the Seaport Working Group, has reiterated her opposition to building a tall tower at the proposed site, saying “building a tower at the South Street Seaport is like building a tower at Colonial Williamsburg.”