Morris Adjmi Architects

254 Front

33,000 square feet
7 stories, 41 units
New York, New York

Built in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge in one of New York’s oldest neighborhoods, this residential building is an interpretation of the district’s maritime heritage and an homage to its eclectic building stock.

The South Street Seaport Historic District is one of the oldest neighborhoods in New York City, having evolved from a swampy collection of warehouses in the eighteenth century to a thriving international port that the New York Times once called the “first World Trade Center” and then to a major tourist destination. These transformations have yielded a diverse collection of buildings including Greek Revival accounting houses, small clapboard homes, and the famous Fulton Fish Market, affectionately called the Tin Building for its corrugated metal cladding. 254 Front Street is an architectural interpretation of the district’s maritime heritage and an homage to its eclectic architecture.

The seven-story apartment building occupies two lots across the street from where the Brooklyn Bridge first touches Manhattan: a corner lot on Front Street and an adjacent lot on Dover Street that was acquired during the initial design process. Instead of simply extending the scheme for the corner building, the expansion consists of a distinct but complementary structure designed to reduce the scale of the project to better fit the nineteenth-century context. The corner structure is clad in horizontal zinc paneling that nods to the nearby Tin Building while recalling the clapboard siding that was once common in the Seaport; such clapboards are now found only on a building at the opposite corner of the block on Dover Street, the last wood structure in the historic district.

The stone piers and metal lintel on the Dover Street annex are a contemporary interpretation of the historic storefronts in the area, while the brick facade, punctuated by deep, metal-framed windows, alludes to the district’s masonry buildings. Because 254 Front was inspired by the evolution of the South Street Seaport rather than by any single period in its history, the design will resonate with its architectural context even as the district continues to evolve.