It’s a duck! It’s a barge!! It’s…. SUPER PIER!!!
During its construction in the early 50s, Pier 57 was dubbed the “Super Pier”, not only for its humongous size, but also for the novel engineering approaches that were employed in its construction. Unlike most piers that bear their full weight upon their pilings, the Super Pier sits atop three cavernous concrete caissons that “float”, partially offsetting the pier’s weight with their buoyancy.
An illustration of the Super Pier’s construction (Source: NYC Dept. of Records)
Pier 57 was built by the city’s Department of Marine and Aviation, which initially leased the pier to the Grace Line. After about seven years, the shipping industry had changed drastically; the Grace Line moved out and the pier remained unused for about a decade. In the early 1970s the New York City Transit Authority took over the pier for use as a bus depot. By 2003 the pier was vacant again, and in 2009, the Hudson River Park Trust chose Youngwood and Associates to lead its redevelopment. Youngwood planned to revitalize the pier with a retail space utilizing re-purposed shipping containers to create a retail bazaar. Some may recall a small-scale pilot was opened to the public in 2010. Unfortunately in October 2010, Super Storm Sandy struck, and Pier 57 was hit hard. For many months following the storm, generators and pumps appeared to run constantly to keep the Super Pier afloat.
Flash forward to the present day, and significant progress is being made! Current plans include a new food hall run by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, a rooftop park, and a commitment by Google to lease 250,000 square feet of office space. The pier is bustling with construction activity, and passerby may notice workers taking concrete deliveries, removing windows and cargo doors, and replacing them with new glazing.
View of the Head House, with removed windows
A view of Pier 57’s North end, showing newly installed windows
With a targeted opening in 2019, we look forward to watching the Super Pier’s Super Transformation!
In other Construction Watch news, just to the South, work on Pier 55 is moving right along. Last week, with a little help from a Barge Named Bill, workers began installing the bent caps that will support the approach walkways to the new park.