Emil H. Praeger

adaptive reuse, Architecture, Chelsea, History

In the summer of 1952, when the American economy was emerging with a roar from the stagnation of the Great Depression and World War II, engineer Emil H. Praeger was chosen to create a replacement for the Grace Line’s old Pier 57 which had been destroyed by fire. Described by the New York Times, the key to what makes the resulting replacement pier so special lies hidden below the pier shed in the Hudson River at the foot of West 15th Street; Rather than resting on a conventional pile field, the bulk of its weight is held up by three floating concrete boxes known as caissons, which are permanently anchored underwater.

The unique foundation of the abandoned pier is the same foundation that will host a $350 million renovation of what is being called the SuperPier by RXR Realty and Youngwoo and Associates, thanks to a lease from the Hudson River Park Trust, with new tenants to include Google offices and Anthony Bourdain’s new food market.

Find out more about how enormous blocks of concrete can float

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