South Street Seaport

Since its founding in 1967, the South Street Seaport Museum has chronicled New York City's evolution not only as a bustling international port, but as a place where people from around the world have shared cultures and ideas. With historic ships, a waterfront pier, a remarkable collection of artifacts, and a presence throughout the seaport, including in the landmarked Schermerhorn Row buildings, the museum serves as the cultural centerpiece of the South Street Seaport Historic District. But since its founding, the museum has never had a sustainable model for funding. Hurricane Sandy flooded the majority of its exhibition space in 2012, and a significant portion of the museum has since remained shuttered. Today, COVID-19 threatens permanent closure of this treasured cultural institution.

SOM and The Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) have developed a proposal to reinforce the vitality of the museum and the seaport district, and to provide an essential, long-term financial lifeline to the institution. The plan calls for a significant restoration of the historic building and a much-needed expansion of the museum, with a new building at the vacant corner of South and John Streets. At the district's edge along Pearl Street, the development of a mixed-use tower will provide a reliable source of funding for the museum.

The museum's entrance will be moved to a prominent location at the corner of South Street and Fulton Street, at the easternmost end of Schermerhorn Row, adjacent to the expansion, which sets the museum apart as the seaport's visual focal point. The historic buildings will be restored, while the design of the new building will draw from the history of the seaport and maritime construction. Copper cladding, echoing the neighborhood's metal buildings and the hulls of century-old ships, will form a patina over time that further accentuates the museum within its surroundings. Shutters will evoke the aesthetic of the historic Schermerhorn Row buildings, and arched openings will give the museum a porous entryway to reinforce its essential role as a public institution. A glass enclosure will bridge the gap between the old buildings and the new—combining 77,000 square feet and providing views to the East River from every floor. New, flexible, multistory exhibition spaces will be finished in wood and supported by sustainable, cross-laminated timber to match the materiality of Schermerhorn Row's interiors.

A few blocks away, the mixed-use project at 250 Water Street will revitalize a site that has been used as a surface parking lot since the 1960s and earmarked for redevelopment for decades. SOM's design responds to two scales. From the street, the base of the building will offer neighborhood retail and community spaces at an intimate human scale, in keeping with the the low height of its two-centuries-old neighbors. Rising 470 feet above and significantly set back from the low-scale podium, the double-tower residential building will include the first affordable housing in Manhattan Community District 1 created through the Mandatory lnclusionary Housing program. Its architectural expression will integrate with the backdrop of Lower Manhattan and the Financial District's skyline. Its precast concrete and punched windows will echo the red-brick color and texture of the seaport, introducing the aesthetic of the area to pedestrians arriving from Water Street and Pearl Street. The ground level will also include improvements to the Peck Slip Play Street that will enhance existing open space for the Peck Slip School and local families.