Urban Renewal of the Meat Packing District | New York, NY
The Meat Packing District on the West Side of Manhattan (between Gansevoort and W. 16th streets, from 9th Ave. out to the piers) used to be the center of the meat packing industry during the waterfront age of ships, trains, factories and warehouses. Aside from a few remaining warehouses still used for industrial operations, this district is no longer used as it once was. A limited number of restaurants, clubs and boutiques are emerging; however the area still has potential for serious development, as a large part of the existing fabric is derelict and not suitable for occupation in its current state.
Beginning at the southern end of the project site is the High Line, an elevated hard-rail system that stretches 22 blocks north alongside the highway, running both over and through buildings; once serving the purpose of transporting, loading and unloading supplies and goods. The High Line has been out of use for some 20 years and has fallen into a state of disrepair, but has survived demolition efforts and has been slated for renovation, which will provide a series of unique, public, open spaces, in addition to a safe mode of pedestrian travel through the city.
In order to effectively renew the area, it is necessary to increase the density two to three times over, which has been done through the introduction of residential towers, and the addition of commercial and green spaces within the existing fabric, demolishing as little as possible. The residential towers draw their placement and form from the existing movement of semi-high rise residential towers to the north of the project site. These towers carve into the fabric in a minimal fashion, providing public spaces at the lower levels, and private luxury apartments above. Each tower also provides a large, upper outdoor space exclusively for residents, acting as a private-public hybrid.
The block between 13th and 14th streets through which the highline runs, has been redeveloped into a central hub for the citizens residing or passing through the area. It provides space for underground parking, a passageway under the highway to the piers, retail and restaurants, and most importantly, vertical movement to the High Line and above to the residential towers on the adjacent blocks.
A layered structure skirts the towers, providing retail, restaurants, and access to outdoor rooftop gardens on one side, and access into and through the towers on the other. It is proposed that these rooftop spaces can be used for future expansion of the area as it becomes denser.
The piers have been developed with a series of art galleries and a small outdoor theater, drawing their influence from the art-related Chelsea District nearby. By sinking the highway, pedestrians are able to cross it more safely via bridges which connect to the green space opposite the piers. The jogging/biking path in front of the piers has been raised gently to minimize injurious contact between the faster north-south pedestrian movement, and the slower east-west pedestrian movement.
Through these urban renewal strategies, the Meat Packing District will become fully integrated into both the city and its infrastructure, functioning as a vibrant and attractive area which still retains its unique, industrial feel.