Historic Front Street Courtyards

Historic Front Street Courtyards

New York, NY

These jewel-like courtyard gardens adorn an upscale residential and retail development on both sides of historic Front Street at Peck Slip, near the South Street Seaport. The adaptive reuse project combined eleven restored 19th-century maritime buildings with three new infill structures. Like the architecture, each garden is a modern twist on the site’s natural and cultural history: iron columns, pulleys and winches.

Two interior courtyards create a green oasis that showcases high performance green design. One is modeled on a tidal marsh or bog such as might have claimed the site hundreds of years ago. Grasses, bracken and woody plants complete the naturalistic setting. Historic cast iron columns anchor a stainless steel pergola hung with ivy to shade seating along the paved perimeter.

The second courtyard is a serene, formal space with a modernist bluestone patio in the center. Water, cascading from a fountain into a clean-edged canal lined with smooth black pebbles, journeys through the courtyard in an orthogonal path, alternately flowing smoothly or rushing over steps. Modern materials, such as a stainless steel planter and steel grids that straddle the water in lieu of stepping stones, are softened with red-twig dogwoods, and ivy that climbs perimeter screens. Subtle details include cantilevering the bluestone paving over the shallow water to render its depth ambiguous.