Pier Two is an adaptive reuse project of an existing 174,240 SF warehouse structure converted into a sports and exercise hub. Instead of tearing down the existing warehouse structure to create a new sports complex, the team chose to adaptively reuse the existing building as the most profound form of recycling. Conceived as a “toybox” for the larger park, Pier Two is dense with recreational courts and equipment including five basketball courts, six handball courts, an inline skating rink, bocce courts, tetherball courts, 35 swings, playgrounds, and picnic areas.
These programmed activities are suspended between the continuous pier deck surface and the existing roof plane articulated with new corrugated metal panels covering parts of the original structure to emphasize voids of sky and views of lower Manhattan, allowing light into the dark four-acre existing structure. Polycarbonate skylights are inserted into the gables to bring a diffused quality of light into the deep interior. The resulting undulating roof form, a play of solid and void, creates both a dappled world of light and shadow on the continuous deck surface of the interior for the players, as well as an engaging visual pattern when seen as a surface from the vantage point of the Brooklyn Bridge. All enclosing side walls were also removed to create a true indoor/outdoor space. The columns and roof structure were maintained and refurbished to preserve the character of the warehouse and reference the past use of the park and pier landscape. For the additional needed support, we inserted large box trusses under the new corrugated roof, without disturbing the existing form, to create the large spans needed for certain programs such as the inline skating rink and basketball courts.
The portion of the pier connecting Pier Two to the land was demolished to establish a boating channel and effectively transform Pier Two into an island. This gave us the opportunity to transform the sharp boundary of the land and water and create a rocky spiral tidal pool that reveals the daily tidal cycle and demarks entry onto the pier structure, while leaving behind the city.
Changing the use of the existing pier to a “place of assembly” triggered the need to structurally upgrade the wooden piles tightly spaced below Pier Two. As a result scuba divers carefully worked on reinforcing the dense underwater pier structure for over a year. The field of piles in the foreground of the last photo is a remnant of the Pier One deck that was removed and gives a sense of the density of the piles under Pier Two. The field of piles at Pier One were left in place to leave a trace of the old Pier One deck, while also create a new marine habitat now that sunlight reaches down into the water below.
In opposition to the verticality of Manhattan, horizontal layering is employed as an organizational strategy for dispersion and sequence of program in the project. The space is negotiated with a series of full height stainless steel screens meant to partially contain “interior” programs yet allow visual transparency. Picnic tables and benches are interspersed with various sport courts, alternating between spaces of activity and rest. Along the southern edge of the Pier a series of swings hang from the trusses, creating an interactive and contemplative element that collapses the sense of range and phenomena.
The Landscape Architect for Brooklyn Bridge Park is Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. The Design Architect for Pier Two is Maryann Thompson Architects. The Architect of Record for Pier Two is Easton Architects.