Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 & Spring Street Salt Shed

Architect: Dattner Architects in association with WXY architecture + urban design

Owner:  New York City  Department of Sanitation / New York City Department of Design and  Construction

Location: New York City

Reflecting a commitment to civic expression and sensitivity to New York’s urban context, this pair of public buildings houses more than 150 sanitation vehicles, three districts’ worth of specialized equipment, and 5,000 tons of road salt. Since their opening, the garage and shed have become iconic structures and a source of neighborhood pride.

While municipal infrastructure projects often draw the ire of critics, Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times lauded this project as the “most distinguished public buildings in the city in years.” The surrounding community, which filed lawsuits in an attempt to block construction of the facility, has come to embrace it and recognize the good design that successfully integrates services into the community.

"The Salt storage building took what is usually an industrial construction built as economically as possible into urban art." ~ Jury statement

The design team was guided by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s directive to elevate the dignity of civic architecture and eschew the practice of tucking infrastructure projects into less-desirable neighborhoods throughout the city. To that end, the team worked with community input to develop a master plan, ensuring the facility’s place in the fabric of the neighborhood.

The garage is wrapped in an ethereal double-skin façade with a glass curtain wall and 2,600 custom perforated aluminum fins that reduce solar heat gain and glare. On the east side of the structure, the fins follow the slope of the ramps to shield the view of headlights, while on the south side they track the sun’s location to add an element of dynamism. The use of bold colors inside further animates the façade while providing intuitive wayfinding for its users.

Standing nearly 70 feet tall, the adjacent cast-in-place concrete salt shed is a crystalline counterpoint to the garage. A sculptural landmark with its faceted planes, it rises from the ground surrounded by textured glass paving. The shed is purposely tapered at the bottom to provide maximum pedestrian space and a dramatic overhang.

The LEED Gold–rated project was a benchmark for the Department of Design and Construction’s Active Design program and is featured in its educational campaign. In 2016 the department rolled out a new handbook, Design and Construction Excellence 2.0: Guiding Principles, highlighting the project’s success.

"It raises the bar significantly for civic infrastructure." ~ Jury statement

Additional information

Construction Manager: Turner Construction Company

Engineer – Structural: The Burns Group

Facade: Front

General Contractor: DeMatteis/Darcon Joint Venture (Garage); Oliveira Contracting (Salt Shed)

Landscape Architect: Abel Bainnson Butz

Lighting Design: Domingo Gonzalez Associates

MEP Engineer: Greely and Hanson


Lee Becker, FAIA (Chair), Hartman-Cox Architects, Washington, DC

Anne Marie Decker, FAIA, Duvall Decker Architects, Jackson, Mississippi

Susan Johnson, AIA, Strata, Kansas City, Missouri

Anna Jones, Assoc. AIA, MOD Design, Des Moines

Caitlin Kessler, AIAS Student Representative, University of Arizona, Tucson

Marilee Meacock, AIA, KSS Architects, Princeton, New Jersey

Robert Miller, FAIA, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Seattle

Sharon Prince, Grace Farms Foundation, New Canaan, Connecticut

Rob Rogers, FAIA, Rogers Partners, New York City

Image credits

Manhattan Districts 1-2-5 & Spring Street Salt Shed

Albert Vecerka / Esto

Manhattan Districts 1-2-5 & Spring Street Salt Shed

Albert Vecerka / Esto

Manhattan Districts 1-2-5 & Spring Street Salt Shed

Albert Vecerka / Esto

Manhattan Districts 1-2-5 & Spring Street Salt Shed

Albert Vecerka / Esto

Manhattan Districts 1-2-5 & Spring Street Salt Shed

Albert Vecerka / Esto