Page N3.1 . 17 May 2000                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department



New York Bridgemarket Opens After Decades in Restoration

Bridgemarket has been one of New York City's best kept secrets: a cathedral-like space beneath the Queensboro Bridge adorned with a canopy of Guastavino tile vaults. Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates first presented plans for a market in 1977 and ushered the project through an extensive public review process and several design incarnations.

Bridgemarket received its name after serving as a farmer's market in the early 1900s until the 1930s, when it became a New York City Department of Transportation facility. The new Bridgemarket includes Guastavino's restaurant, the Terence Conran Shop, a flagship Food Emporium, and a public plaza designed by Lynden Miller, who is well known for her work at Bryant and Battery Parks. Bridgemarket has been described as a catalyst for renewal of this East Side neighborhood and reclaims for use one of New York City's great civic spaces.

Bridgemarket is widely considered to be one of Rafael Guastavino's most dramatic and exciting public spaces. Guastavino, an architect from Barcelona, pioneered the adaptation of a centuries-old vernacular building technology called the boveda catalana, or Catalan vault, in which long flat tiles are laid in courses and mortared together with a special mixture of portland cement and cow bay sand. Guastavino vaults can be found in numerous grand interiors, including Grand Central Terminal, the U.S. Customs House, and the main hall at Ellis Island.

Creating a new destination in a historic space posed many challenges. The final design resulted from dialogue between Hugh Hardy and Terence Conran, who introduced a modernist sensibility. Originally designed to evoke 19th-century European marketplace structures, the shop's glass-and-steel pavilion is now a modernist foil to the massive bridge. The design is intended to complement, not overwhelm, the bridge and its remarkable canopy of vaults.

The development of Bridgemarket also represents collaboration with developer Bridgemarket Associates, New York's Economic Development Corporation and Department of Transportation, and private historic preservation groups. The DOT undertook the restoration of the tile vaults and terracotta details, as well as the installation of a historical series of insulating glass that maintains the character of the original industrial sash.


ArchWeek Photo

Bridgemarket pavilion
Photo: Michael Moran

ArchWeek Photo

Photo: Michael Moran

ArchWeek Photo

Guastavino's Restaurant
Photo: Georgia Glynn Smith

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