Site A waterfront parcel zoned for a 72,000- square-foot pier in Charlestown, Mass., at the edge of Boston Harbor.

Program 86,542 square feet of multifamily housing and public amenities supported by floating foundations.

Solution Perkins+Will’s proposal for a floating, multifamily housing pier could not be better timed. With hurricane devastation from Sandy (2012) and Katrina (2005), and data on rising ocean levels placing increased scrutiny on how to safely inhabit coastal areas, Floatyard’s scheme of buoyant courtyard apartments offers potential solutions to this growing urban problem. “It’s completely integrated in response to the environment and as a way of thinking,” juror Kimberly Holden said. “And it’s extremely relevant.” Floatyard also engages with the local maritime industry by reactivating the dormant Fore River Shipyard for its fabrication.

By introducing a new pier of dwellings to Boston Harbor, Perkins+Will expects to add to a local market where the existing housing stock has been stagnant for years. By its nature, Floatyard—a pier surrounded on three sides by water—is waterfront housing, but it will also provide community amenities such as kayaking, fishing, and swimming that take advantage of the harbor environment. Native species will be restored in wetland ecosystems around the structure. Pneumatic pistons around the interior perimeter, also acting as mooring posts, will collect energy produced by Floatyard’s tidal rise and fall.

The results of such a system could serve to benefit not only Boston Harbor, but other coastal cities too. As juror John Frane put it, “[Floatyard] takes on urban issues as well—like incorporating the landscape, which in this case is water, into the conceptual structure of the place. That’s much more than a houseboat.”

Location  Charlestown, Mass.
Client  Cresset Development
Architect  Perkins+Will, Boston—Brian Healy, AIA (principal); Robert Brown, AIA, Dana Anderson, AIA (managing principals); Matt Pierce, Kimberly Poliquin, Jiseok Park, John Nelson, John McDonald (design team)
Size  86,542 square feet
Cost  Withheld