Urban revitalization with a waterfront view

Pier 17

14/06/2013 Written by: Kelli Hardiman

Urban waterfronts are the center points of many cities. Traditionally, the use of the urban waterfront was port or manufacturing related, yet today it is recognized as prime property for redeveloped public spaces across the United States and abroad. The functionality of existing waterfront structures are constantly re-evaluated in efforts to reinvigorate these destinations for both city residents and tourists. These updated, well-functioning public spaces therefore act as an economic catalyst for the community, and as such, are a vital ingredient of a successful city.

BuroHappold is currently involved with three major waterfront redevelopment endeavors, Navy Pier in Chicago, St. Petersburg Pier in Florida, and Pier 17 in New York City, in an effort to shape and revitalize these urban spaces. 

In anticipation of the 2016 Centennial, Chicago's Navy Pier is undergoing Pierscape enhancements as well as a sustainable master plan. Drawing 8 million visitors a year, the Pier will see the park into the next century with the James Corner Field Operations and nARCHITECTS-designed landscaping and streetscape, lighting, water features, public art and entertainment venues. As part of the sustainable master plan, BuroHappold and Gensler have evaluated the existing systems, operations and conditions of the Pier and conducted energy audits to provide a cohesive, long term planning strategy that allows for continuous improvement in energy efficiency and waste reduction.

The city of St. Petersburg, Florida is hoping to capitalize on the draw of its pristine waterfront with an iconic new municipal pier. Replacing the existing pier which was built in the 1960s, the project will be the centerpiece of the city's downtown waterfront, and will feature walkways, a bikeway, seating areas, fishing, public gathering spaces, food services and retail. Michael Maltzan Architecture, BuroHappold and Skanska have been engaged to execute this new vision and designed an iconic, 70 foot high steel and aluminum canopy with reinforced concrete deck structures for the wide promontory at the Pier's outer end.

A major tourist draw since opening in the early 1980s, New York City's Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport is set to undergo a significant transformation with a new three-level enclosed mall and performance stage designed by ShoP Architects. As the structural engineer, BuroHappold faced challenges in adapting the structural system of the new 226,000 ft² building to an existing concrete pier structure while working on a very constrained site. Providing many amenities as well as unobstructed waterfront views of the Brooklyn Bridge and downtown Manhattan, this redevelopment will enhance the site and the Seaport will continue to be a top New York City visitor attraction.

For the last three decades urban waterfronts have undergone a transformation from abandoned or underused areas to dynamic community places. The trend is a positive change and continues to accelerate in cities around the globe.

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