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'Iconic' Salt Shed Design Takes a Licking From the Locals

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New York's most mindboggling salt shed made its public debut last night, as the Sanitation Department (DSNY) presented the latest design concept in front of a Community Board 2 subcommittee. This isn't your typical sodium shack. The cost ($10 million!), design (it's a freakin' salt crystal!) and location (part of the garbage truck garage controversy on the west end of Canal Street) are all interesting subplots. A neighborhood activist and Curbed correspondent was in the building to report on the proceedings:

DSNY’s award-winning Architect Mike Friedlander presented his latest iteration of an “iconic” Salt Shed last evening, in front of Manhattan Community Board Two’s Landmarks Committee. The Public Design Commission had sent the Richard Dattner and Associates design team back and forth over a three-year period, seeking to “achieve an iconic, sculptural form?a geometric aesthetic with reference to crystalline structures”. The PDC is scheduled to vote on the latest design at its October 25th meeting. Mike Friedlander began the meeting by informing the packed house that DSNY was working with a “world-renown concrete specialist?because concrete can be problematic?he’s the best concrete expert in the world.” City Hall had told the designers that they were seeking an “object rather than a building” to meet the functional requirements of the Department of Sanitation.

We learned last night that “salt has a natural angle of repose of 32 degrees”. That lights under the sidewalk would illuminate the building, “to make the building more iconic by creating a moat of lighting”.

After more than an hour of questioning by Board Members, DSNY also faced “salty” comments from their future neighbors. It was pointed out that this Salt Shed would cost more than all of the nine other Salt Sheds combined (much more than $10MM) now under construction at Varick Street (Brooklyn), Creedmore (Queens), Forbell Street (Brooklyn), West 146th Street (Manhattan), East 125th Street (Manhattan), Tompkins Avenue (Brooklyn), Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx) and West 55th Street (Manhattan).

Many spoke about the dangers of unloading corrosive, air-borne salt to neighboring buildings, Canal Park, the Hudson River Park and the historic Holland Tunnel. One speaker suggested that an enclosed shed might also make the salt and caking mix unstable during the hot months of the summer, with the possible release of cyanide gases. All agreed that this was one of the windiest corners of Manhattan and that rooftop vents aimed to the west would just blow the salt back east.

Finally, a neighbor and former CB2 Board Member spoke about the architectural disconnect between the old historic brick structures still on Washington Street, the new all-glass wonders by Philip Johnson and others, and the proposed all-concrete “iconic" aspirant. Another neighbor grabbed the microphone and suggested that on such a quiet corner the smooth concrete surfaces would soon be tagged with graffiti?DSNY responded that they had two mobile graffiti removal trucks waiting in the wings.

Light moats, cyanide?this ain't your typical development controversy. Plus, the shed is salt in the wound (sorry!) for all those Downtowners who failed to defeat the Tower o' Garbage. But c'mon, this thing is kind of cool, right?
· New $10 Million 'Taj Mahal of Salt' Sprinkled Onto Hudson Square [Curbed]