Steel Shots: An Exoskeleton with a Twist

A new torquing tower in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District echoes the angles of neighboring streets. Photo: DBOX 

837 Washington Street is a symbol of the ever-changing and ever-modernizing Meatpacking District in Manhattan.

Situated across the street from high Line Park (see “Elevated Experience” in “What’s Cool in Steel,” 8/09), the project is a six-story office and retail development designed by Morris Adjmi Architects and built by Sciame Construction for Thor Equities and Taconic Investment Partners. Gilsanz Murray Steficek (GMS), which served as structural design engineer, was intensely involved in the construction phase and provided special inspection services including steel erection and structural safety.

The building is a new torquing tower that rises out of an existing two-story Art Moderne-style brick warehouse built in 1938, which was once part of the Gansevoort Market.

With 12-ft-plus ceiling heights throughout, the building consists of 28,000 sq. ft of retail space, 27,000 sq. ft of office space and more than 7,000 sq. ft of roof deck and terraces. Two passenger elevators, rooftop cooling towers and mechanical equipment are also accounted for in the structural design. Structural work on the project was completed last September, and the estimated total project cost was $96 million.

To comply with complex landmark restrictions, the design team preserved the original masonry facade, created new masonry openings at street level and restored cantilevered canopies that are signature to the neighborhood. This lower retail structure frames into a new steel exoskeleton of sloping columns and twisted floor plates that comprise the upper office component of the building.

The preservation of the 100 linear ft of the existing landmarked facade involved front and back bracing and underpinning to enable deeper excavation and new basement construction consisting of a 2-ft, 6-in. foundation mat and 10-in.-thick perimeter liner walls below the preserved storefront. Additionally, existing roof areas had to be reframed to create tenant terraces at the intended elevations.

Read more about the project in the current October issue of MSC (available now!).