New York's Pier 57 Will Become a Park on Shipping Containers


LOT-EK, YoungWoo Chosen For Lively Pier Renewal Plan
Not far from the High Line, another decaying piece of New York infrastructure is bound for a green revival: Pier 57, the decaying concrete hulk on New York's Hudson's River will be transformed into a rooftop park and open-air market sitting above a warren of art studios -- all of it made, appropriately for the port site, out of shipping containers.

As Architect's Newspaper reports, the Hudson River Park board and community advocates chose the plan -- designed by container enthusiasts LOT-EK with art-focused developer YoungWoo -- over competing designs from the Related Companies and the Durst Organization.

The community was wooed by the plan's provision for green space and a reduction in vehicular trips, and for its respect of the pier's history, adding transparency and greenery to the site without hiding its industrial past.

The board also admired the plan's financial feasibility: YoungWoo's proposal cost $191 million, compared to Durst's $330 million and Related's $353 million. Cost has been kept low, says LOT-EK, because of its dependence on pre-fab units.

The LOT-EK plan faced considerable scrutiny however over its inclusion of shipping containers. Would the containers adhere to building code, and provide a suitable environment? (As I wrote last year, similar concerns may have led one developer to abandon shipping containers, if not their aesthetic, at a LOT-EK-designed project in Beijing's Sanlitun neighborhood.)

But Puma City, LOT-EK's awesome portable, mixed-use structure made from 24 shipping containers that recently landed in Boston — helped convince the Hudson River Park community of the idea's feasibility.

Shipping containers, which can pile up on our shores given the high cost of sending them back to their destination, have come to be seen as a clever component in architectural circles. They have found their way into , as well as innovative prefab homes, offices and public spaces.

It's not yet clear how Pier 57's containers will be sourced. But drive through Newark and it's clear there are plenty available just across the river in New Jersey.


Artist-Centric Program Fosters Vitality
Also on the design team is Urban Space Management (USM), the company that helped YoungWoo develop London's Camden Lock, a large urban market in a post-industrial setting. As in London, YoungWoo hopes to rent out many work-sell spaces as incubators for local artisans, a tactic that not only brings in revenue, but keeps the area active during off-hours, and imports urban activity to the pier.

A broad service ramp will connect to indoor educational space -- including a proposed 90,000-square-foot "Underwater Discovery Center" -- and an outdoor seating area in the rooftop park, where the Tribeca Film Festival will host screenings.

Though the project may not be completed for another two years -- pending approvals and an environmental review -- the disused Pier 57 is due for a makeover. It gained notoriety in 2004 when it served as a detention center for protesters rounded up during the Republican National Convention. Lawsuits later complained of prolonged exposure at the site to motor oil, asbestos, and other contaminants.

Renderings courtesy LOT-EK
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