837 Washington Street repurposes an existing two-story structure built in 1938 to accommodate the needs of the businesses that made this neighborhood “the Meatpacking District.” The challenge in designing this new structure was to preserve the architectural integrity of the original building, and the historic district as a whole, while integrating new commercial space. To design a building that both stands out and fits in, the project was treated as two distinct but coexisting buildings: a new twisting steel and glass tower and the restored Modern-style brick warehouse.
The unique two-tone brick facade of the 1938 building has been restored and its ad hoc arrangement of garage doors and loading bays converted to a dynamic series of storefront windows. A new glass and steel canopy evokes the original cantilever, and all second-story windows have been replaced with historically appropriate factory-style sashes. In subtle ways, these features influence the design of the tower above: the mullions dividing the tower’s floor-to-ceiling curtain walls are identical in proportion to the windows below, and its brick-clad core uses colored mortar and bands of soldier courses to reference the colored brick banding on the original building.
With the four-story addition set back from the lower building, the design respects this difference and reinforces the original structure’s contribution to the character of the historic district. With its distinct design and prominent location, 837 Washington was able to attract electronics maker Samsung to create a flagship retail location and experience center in the building. One advantage of the building’s exoskeleton design is that it allows for column-free spaces that enable a more dramatic and flexible experience inside, which has enabled Samsung to embrace the building as part of its brand and as a flexible site for art, fashion and technology exhibitions.
Image Credits: Timothy Schenck, Alexander Severin, Matthew Williams