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Pearl House (160 Water Street)

New York, New York

Office-to-residential conversions can be pivotal to introducing new housing to the market, especially in neighborhoods where land is scarce and under-used office towers abundant. Vanbarton Group engaged Gensler in 2020 to convert its 525,000-square-foot downtown office building into a premier residential building. The 588-unit building includes a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom market-rate apartments — 45% of which will include a home office — and features amenities such as a gym, coworking space, lounges, a spa, golf simulator, and bowling alley. Gensler designed the architectural conversion of the office building, as well as the interiors of the common spaces, amenities, and residential units.

The adaptive reuse strategy includes the addition of five new floors atop the existing 24-story tower as well as the creation of three new voids, which run the height of the existing building, to permanently remove less desirable floor area for the new apartments. Substantial structural reinforcement through floor-to-ceiling diagonal bracing was required throughout the building. As part of the office-to-residential conversion, the building’s existing curtain wall was retrofitted for better performance. Additional insulation and new double-pane, operable windows were installed, resulting in an envelope that now exceeds local 2030 energy performance requirements. Pearl House saves an estimated 20,000 metric tons of embodied carbon in comparison to constructing a new ground-up 588-unit apartment building using conventional concrete construction.

Pearl House is expected to be completed in 2024.