Philadelphia Navy Yard by BIG

Philadelphia office building by BIG takes cues from old battleships

Bjarke Ingels Group has completed an office facility in the Philadelphia Navy Yard with a facade that curves like the bow of a ship.

Called 1200 Intrepid, the building is located in city's historic Navy Yard – an industrial site that is being converted into a mixed-use district. Robert AM Stern designed the area's masterplan.

Philadelphia Navy Yard by BIG

A park by the landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations opened in the district last year. The five-acre (two-hectare) Central Park Green Park – which features a meandering path and a variety of trees and plants – fronts the new office building.

BIG, the Copenhagen-based firm started by Bjarke Ingels, says the building's design was influenced by the "encounter between Robert Stern's masterplan of rectangular city blocks and James Corner's iconic, circular Central Green Park". It also draws references to the curved bows of battleships docked just a few blocks away.

Philadelphia Navy Yard by BIG

The main facade of the office block consists of a precast concrete wall that curves inward. The sculpted form responds to the "shock wave" of the park's circular running track, activity areas and planting vignettes – all of which ripple outward "like rings in water to invade the building's footprint".

The remaining elevations of the building, along with its cornice, reference the city's grid and the orthogonal design of the Navy Yard's masterplan.

Philadelphia Navy Yard by BIG

Encompassing 92,00 square feet (8,547 square meters), the office building rises four stories. At its core is a large atrium, which was conceived as a periscope the would project views of the water into the building.

"Visitors and employees can admire the moth-balled ships sitting in the adjacent docks while embracing Central Green Park – connecting the building and its inhabitants to their surroundings," the firm said.

Philadelphia Navy Yard by BIG

Penn Capital, an investment manager, occupies the top floor of the facility, while the remaining floors are still available to rent. The building had no tenants when BIG received the commission.

The firm also wanted to create an office block that genuinely responded to its context.

1200 Intrepid by BIG

"You would really be hard-pressed to place 1200 Intrepid anywhere else, due to how it connects with its surroundings," said Kai-Uwe Bergmann, a partner at BIG.

"The key challenge here was to create a reason for tenants to be here with the constraint of a stringent budget."

This is the second US project completed by BIG, which was founded in Copenhagen in 2005 and opened its New York office in 2010. It recently celebrated the opening of Via 57 West, a residential tower in Manhattan.

Other American projects by the firm include Two World Trade Center and The Spiral, both office towers in New York.

Photography is by Rasmus Hjortshøj.

Project credits:

Partners in charge: Bjarke Ingels, Thomas Christoffersen, Beat Schenk
Project leaders: Sören Grünert (concept), David Brown (schematic & DD), Brandon Cook (CD), Michelle Stromsta (CA)
Team: Annette Miller, Aran Coakley, Armen Menendian, Douglass Alligood, Natalie Kwee, Peter Lee, Taylor Hewett, Terry Lallak, Thomas Fagan, Thea Sofie Gassenholm
Client: Liberty Property Trust
Collaborators: Environetics, In-Posse, LRSLA, Pennoni, Re:Vision

More images and plans

Philadelphia Navy Yard by BIG
Site plan
Philadelphia Navy Yard by BIG