American Copper: Natural Evolution

Marci Clark of JDS Development and Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape Architecture explain how the American Copper Buildings sit on the threshold of the urban and natural worlds, right in the heart of Manhattan. The East River waterfront has Colonial roots, says Clark, but truly flourished in the 19th and early 20th centuries when shipping was a major industry in the city. The architecture of the area reflected that, and the site of the American Copper Buildings used to be occupied by a telephone switching station and an electrical plant. Since World War II, industry along the East River has declined, opening up new possibilities for residential and commercial development that’s just now taking shape. Kate Orff remarks on the rugged and natural state of the coastline, which was once rich in oysters, and describes the ways in which SCAPE’s design, developed in concert with SHoP Architects, has brought elements of nature back into the American Copper Buildings’ public plaza. This holistic design is carried from the outside in, taking the form of a lush green rooftop garden. It represents a collaboration not just between the architects and engineers, but with the local community and neighborhood. With its striking design, which transforms the city skyline, the American Copper Buildings are giving something new and dynamic to this storied corridor of Manhattan.