Rock Chapel Marine solves the problem of what to do with a seasonal property in its off-season. At this road salt facility, winter is busiest, and stockpiles of salt are at their largest. But when icy conditions give way to warmer weather and the piles diminish, the Marine becomes an opportunity for community recreation, one which architects at Landing Studio have transformed from winter industry to waterfront amenity. With the firm’s imaginative recasting of the site, Rock Chapel Marine has become an example of how creative programming can bring year-round use to underutilized spaces.
The types of projects architects encounter have an extraordinary range. While they work on plenty of bread-and-butter office or residential buildings, they’re often asked to find solutions to uncommon—and highly interesting—problems, such as how to turn a still-operational road salt facility on a brownfield site into a community amenity. That was the challenge leveled at Boston-based Landing Studio, and one whose solution, Rock Chapel Marine, has garnered several awards for the firm, including a 2017 AIA Award for Regional and Urban Design.
Rock Chapel Marine, which is alternatively called “Publicly Organized Recreation Territory” (PORT), was once a 13-million-gallon oil tank farm alongside the waterways of Chelsea, Massachusetts. Prior to Landing Studio’s involvement, it had become a road salt terminal that would expand and contract based on seasonal demand. The terminal saw heavy wintertime use for the distribution of more than 100,000 tons of salt per year to aid in highway ice abatement, but it saw little activity during the warmer months. Now, it combines its function as the Eastern Salt Company’s storage facility with a more publicly enticing waterfront park, with the area of each relating to the current season: Winter equals more salt, less park; summer means less salt and more park.
Some of the structural shells of the old oil tanks remain, with new soil and plant cover added to begin the soil remediation process for a wildlife habitat upon a site that has seen half a century of heavy industrial usage. One of the larger tank shells has been converted into an outdoor amphitheater, and its frame supports lighting for the event space. Landing Studio repurposed an old tugboat as a lookout tower for the park, and illustrated salt piling strategies that would preserve neighborhood views to the waterfront; a new basketball court would be the last zone filled with salt if the spatial need arises. The architects also specified containment covers for the salt piles that lend a cleaner aesthetic to the industrial portion of Rock Chapel Marine while providing a backdrop for projected art installations and screenings.
Read the full story at Topic Architecture.