Situated across the street from the High Line in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, 837 Washington Street is a six-story office & retail development designed by Morris Adjmi Architects for Thor Equities & Taconic Investment Partners and built by Sciame. Gilsanz Murray Steficek served as structural design engineer. The building is a new torquing tower that rises out of an existing 2-story Art Moderne style brick warehouse built in 1938, which was once part of the Gansevoort Market.
With 12’+ ceiling heights throughout, the building consists of 28,000 SF of retail space, 27,000 SF of office space, and 7,000+ SF of roof-deck & terraces. Structural work on this project was completed in September 2013, with an estimated total project cost of $96 million.
To comply with complex landmark restrictions, the design team preserved the original masonry façade, created new masonry openings at street level, and restored cantilevered canopies that are signature to the neighborhood. This lower retail structure frames into a new steel exoskeleton of sloping columns and twisted floorplates, designed to echo the angles of neighboring streets.
The unique torso of 837 Washington provided opportunities for creative approaches to its structural design. Steel beams rotate around brick cores that tie back into the warehouse structure below. Gilsanz Murray Steficek achieved the intricate design by creating innovative plate girders. These were fabricated off-site by Weir Welding and shipped to the site for assembly. The skewed profile of these customized girders allowed architectural/visual perpendicularity of the design to be maintained.
The building is designed to achieve LEED Gold Certification. The structure has been designed to support planting beds along the edges of floor slabs that reduce storm water runoff and roofs were designed to sustain rainwater retention loads, among other strategies. Logistically, despite being situated on a tight urban site, construction was achieved efficiently, with minimal disruption to the immediate streets and surrounding neighborhood.
The structure exists contextually within its built environment. Mr. Adjmi’s concept and GMS’s execution produces a building expressive of the up-and-coming retail center that is the Meatpacking District.
“What might look like a beige brick bunker in any other neighborhood represents the last phase of building when the area was still a functioning meatpacking district. Mr. Adjmi’s design nods to that manufacturing past not just by preserving the grit of the old facade, but also through the use of the exposed I-beam as the primary means of expression. The vertical beams twist from within the old building, each successive floor pivoting on an angle that seems to provoke the High Line, as if a motion blur on a passing train. As it rises in height, the structure twists farther away from the original and from the past. The tension turns the building into a metaphor, rather than a mere addition.” (WSJ)
The building stands as a case study of how a design can pass through Landmarks respecting neighborhood context and maintaining the architect’s aesthetic intent.
Photo Credit: Aislinn Weidele