We spoke with Mike Riotto of MRD design-build light- ing company about their amazing new project, Pier A Harbor House, a multi-purpose culinary and events destination down in Battery Park City, N. Y. We see
clearly now how lighting can take a project beyond just rejuvenated
to achieve the ultimate in elegance with pieces that are classic, locally
sourced and fabricated, and at the cutting edge of technology, all at
the same time!
INTERIORS & SOURCES: Tell us a little bit about the history of Pier A.
MIKE RIOTTO: Since opening in 1886, Pier A—which is located near
the southern end of Manhattan—has served as the headquarters for
the city’s harbor police, fire department, and a beacon of welcome for
European Ambassadors traveling to Ellis Island. Pier A was added to
the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and was designated a
New York City landmark in 1977.
The pier was expanded in 1900 and again in 1919 with a clock
installed in the pier’s tower as a memorial to 116,000 U.S. servicemen
who died during World War I. This iconic clock tower continues to stand over the
harbor as part of Pier A’s restaurant and bar.
And now for the first time in 127 years, the three-story project has opened its
doors to the public. It houses bars, restaurants, and a top-floor event space with
stunning views of Ellis Island and the Hudson. We envisioned the Pier as a docked
ship and designed the lighting accordingly. The lower floor represents the utilitarian
spaces, like the engine room, while the upper floor represents the crow’s nest and
captain’s quarters. We also designed and built several custom and architectural
lighting fixtures to give the building a unique New York City identity.
I&S: How did your lighting choices help enliven its past and brighten its
MR: We kept with Pier A’s maritime history. We really tapped into our knowledge
of the marine industry to inform and define the space. For example, we used red
and green markers, always found on ships as navigational lights, to help define the
Long Bar area and create a wayfinding feature.
My personal background is in scenic and theatrical lighting design and I wanted
to use that experience to make the featured lighting appear dramatic, but instead
52 INTERIORS & SOURCES AUGUST 2015
By AnnMarie Martin | Photography courtesy of Donna Dotan Photography
A BEACON OF HOPE
MRD Lighting honors Pier A Harbor House’s past while setting its course toward the 21st century.