Oculus - Winter 2013 - (Page 30)
With its alluring design and spectacular views, the
Watermark Bar on redeveloped Pier 15 is attracting
locals and tourists alike
B Y L I S A DE L GA DO
ew Yorkers famously like to move fast, but some of our most beloved
public spaces offer opportunities to slow down instead - think of the
High Line, for example. Pier 15 near South Street Seaport is another such
place, an oasis of serenity and natural beauty away from the hustle-bustle of
the city streets. Since SHoP Architects and Ken Smith Landscape Architect
redeveloped the pier a couple of years ago, locals and tourists alike have
explored its two levels and relaxed in its lounge chairs, taking in the sweeping views of the East River and the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg
Bridges. With the addition of the Watermark Bar & Lounge, a new, privatelyoperated restaurant at the end of the pier, featuring architecture by SHoP and
interior design by Wid Chapman Architects (WCA), visitors have one more
reason to venture down the pier: to soak up the views with a drink in hand.
Along with a small ice cream parlor called Cones Café, the Watermark Bar
inhabits a 1,350-square-foot boxy, modern pavilion enclosed with a glassand-steel curtain wall system. The transparency showcases the water views.
SHoP chose reflective glass to give the structure an ethereal quality and add
an air of lightness to its green roof, explains Cathy Jones, senior design associate at SHoP. The glass is "very transparent when you're on the inside," she says,
"but when you're on the outside, it reflects the city and the water."
It's one of various SHoP-designed pavilions in the area that are designated
for commercial businesses to offer amenities to the public, as part of the
East River Waterfront Esplanade project. The NYC Economic Development
Corporation (EDC) is spearheading the ongoing project, which involves revitalizing and improving a two-mile stretch of East River waterfront from the
Battery Maritime Building up to Montgomery Street.
Oculus Winter 2013
SHoP designed the pavilion before its exact use
had been chosen, but "we wanted to have some
kind of activity at the end of the pier where people
could sit and enjoy that kind of proximity and view,"
Jones says. In the EDC's eyes, a restaurant like the
Watermark was a natural choice, in terms of fueling
the pier's popularity. "It is a draw - seeing people
gather in a space makes more people want to sit and
gather in a space," remarks Kate Blumm, the EDC's
assistant vice president of public affairs. Another
benefit for the EDC is the revenue from leasing the
space, which helps fund park maintenance.
To conduct food operations in the pavilion, the
EDC chose Merchants Hospitality, which teamed
up with another restaurant company, the Lure
Group. Merchants Hospitality enlisted longtime
collaborator WCA to design the interior as well as
a larger 2,250-square-foot outdoor seating area.
WCA's brief was to create a design that would feel
welcoming and not too upscale, with "a neighborhoody feeling, inviting to tourists, but also local
families and Wall Street people at happy hour," says
Wid Chapman, AIA, principal of the firm.
WCA's design also had to pass muster with
a panoply of city agencies: the EDC, the Public
The Fun Factor: Visitors + Vistas
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Winter 2013
First Words Letter from Two Presidents
A Word from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: Designing – and Defi ning – a Moment in Time
Eat, Drink, and Wear the Brand
Architecture Tourism: New York City’s Waterfront – and Beyond
Development Does DUMBO
A Tale of Two Piers
Healing Buildings to Heal a City Once Again
Index to Advertisers
Oculus - Winter 2013