After Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc and disaster all over the city’s waterfront areas–or, at least, all over the lower-lying areas; this is, after all, a city in which four of the five boroughs are islands, so plenty of waterfront property is safely out of harm’s way–there was some talk about slowing down, or rethinking, a lot of planned NYC waterfront development right by our rivers. Clearly, that more conservative approach has been tabled.
Punctuated in jaw-dropping fashion last week with the unveiling of SHoP Architects’ stunning design for the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, there has been number of waterfront development..er, developments over the past few weeks. And while some of these should obviously be filed under “fanciful” (aka: never in a million years), it shows that this great and wonderful city of ours is not going to be slowing down any time soon.
Proposed NYC Waterfront Development at the Domino Sugar Factory Site
First, let’s take a look SHoP’s Domino site, pictured at top and above. Much of initial internet commentary was pretty withering (“Welcome to Dallas” being the general sentiment), but most people–architecture critics, politicians, residents–seem to agree that, if nothing else, SHoP’s bold, ambitious approach is a whole lot more thought-out that than the site’s previous, bland and boxy plan.
We’re still a long way from construction, and a lot can and will change between now and then, but highlights of the new Domino design include: a quarter-mile long continuous park along the East River (about the same length and acreage as Rockefeller Park, on the Hudson in Tribeca), with plenty of room and facilities for both leisure and recreation; a building-sized public plaza that could be used for fairs and events; and “Williamsburg’s version of the High Line,” an “artifact walk” constructed from salvage from the soon-to-demolished factory.
The Domino Sugar Factory Site Will Include Lots of Greenspace as well as Buildings
Building-wise, residents of Williamsburg apartments can look forward to meeting a whole lot of new neighbors. The Domino site will feature five separate buildings, all designed to not completely block out light and air and waterfront views to everyone behind the massive development. “We don’t want the project to have a back”, says SHoP principal Vishaan Chakrabarti, hence the “doughnut building”, and the two narrow towers joined near the top of their 60 stories by a pedestrian skybridge.
There will be a school in the complex (at the base of the doughnut), as well as office space. And 660 of the 4000-or-so apartments will be designated as affordable housing, with the rest falling in line with market-rate Williamsburg rentals.
Adding to the neighborly feel of things, developer Two Trees also promises that all street-level retail spaces will be leased to small stores, rather than big-box places. The whole thing will probably take a decade to complete, with the first building breaking ground in, hopefully, 2014. Which means we’ll be giving you updates on this for YEARS!
Other Proposed Waterfront Development in NYC
In other news, the Rockwell Group and Diller Scofidio + Renfro recently released new renderings (above) of the much-anticipated Culture Shed, a flexible performance / event / installation space, integrated with the upcoming third section of the High Line and located within the massive Hudson Yards project just north of Chelsea.
Downtown a bit, in Tribeca, the battle for what to do with beloved-but-crumbling Pier 40 seems to be down to two contenders: one would put office and retail space on the site itself, to finance the building and maintenance of new sports fields; the other relies upon new residential development on the uplands to pay the bills, which would also free up acreage for even more playing field space.
Finally, over on the East River, two proposals caught my eye recently. The first, pictured below, is WXY Architecture and Design’s renderings for the East River Blueway–the riverfront area between the Brooklyn Bridge and 38th Street–which would include a sandy beach/kayak launch. And DoKC Lab came up with an idea for transforming the river itself into a series of connected, sustainable “water farms” using underwater hydroelectric generators. Very cool, very not going to happen.