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NYC's New Salt Shed Is a Functional Piece of Architectural Eye Candy

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The Spring Street Salt Shed in the front, and the Manhattan 1/2/5 Garage in the background. Both have been designed by Dattner Architects. All photos by Max Touhey for Curbed

This weekend, New York City is due to be on the business end of a strong winter storm, currently nicknamed Jonas. The weather event is expected to bring close to a foot of snow, some coastal flooding, and 50 mile per hour winds to the city. To deal with the fallout from the storm, some 500 salt spreaders are expected to be out Friday evening, and 2,400 sanitation workers will be working 12 hour shifts to ensure the smooth operation of storm relief efforts.

This storm will also mark the first real test for the newly-opened Spring Street Salt Shed and it's adjoining Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage. An architectural marvel, the Salt Shed is shaped just like the product it holds: a grain of salt. Recently, Curbed got a chance to tour both the Salt Shed and the Garage across the street.

Dattner Architects with WXY Architecture + Urban Design took on the challenge to create something unique at the site —take an otherwise boring sounding assignment for the city's Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and turn it into something that serves a utilitarian purpose, but has also worked as a visual attraction of sorts. The Salt Shed rises up to 70 feet high on the side facing the Hudson River. The structure has the capacity to store up to 5,000 tons of salt —and where does that come from you ask, usually all the way from Chile or Argentina. The location next to the water makes it easier to transport the salt to the Spring Street building. The Salt Shed is the first fully enclosed shed commissioned by the DSNY. The doors of the shed measure 35 feet high and 24 feet wide which makes it easier for trucks to travel in and out of the structure. The ingenuity of the design doesn't end there. The walls of the shed are taller on the side facing the water. This is because salt rests in what is called an "angle of repose." The interior of the shed is shaped in such a way that the salt can naturally assume a slanting position, and the trucks drive along one side of the salt mound and dump new batches of salt up top.

The walls of the shed are six feet thick, to prevent the building from being damaged. Furthermore, the interior walls of the shed are lined with steel plating, which is replaceable. This prevents the constant stream of trucks going in and out from damaging the walls. A lot of thought went into the use of materials for the exteriors as well. The blueish hue in the concrete is a result of slag, and over the years as the walls are exposed to sunlight the color will fade away and will closer resemble the color of salt.

"How often does a single firm get to do two civic projects side by side," Paul Bauer, a principal at Dattner Architects told Curbed. "The two buildings we designed are completely separate facilities with separate characteristics. The collaboration with DSNY was an extraordinary experience."

The other building Bauer is referring to is the one across the street, the garage for Manhattan districts 1,2, and 5. While it may not have that immediate, "Wow, look at that sculpture," appeal that the salt shed does, it's pretty crafty building in its own right. For one all the floors are color coded by each of the three districts —It's hard to tell from afar, but you can really get a sense when you get up close, and it also add a dash of brightness to an otherwise metallic building. Speaking of metallic. The exterior of the garage is wrapped in a double-skin facade. A glass curtain wall on the inside. And 2,600 custom perforated metal fins on outside. The fins reduce the solar glare, the obscure views from outside in, but you can still look out from inside the building. And that's not the best part. The fins track the sun's location and move accordingly to adjust their angle.

Dattner designed the 425,000 square-foot building in collaboration with WXY Architecture + Urban Design. It has the capacity to hold 150 sanitation vehicles and work space for about 200 staff members. Not to mention the fact the building also has centralized fueling, truck wash, and repair facilities. And if all the hundreds of trucks have got you thinking, "man, imagine the pollution," Dattner sort of came up with a solution for that too. The building has a 1.5 acre green roof that helps with storm water retention, and could one day also help heat the building.


· All the Spring Street Salt Shed Coverage [Curbed]