Project Description

Living Docks

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West Palm Beach, Florida

The West Palm Beach Waterfront Commons Project includes three new docks that allow for boat tie-ups and a water-taxi to encourage visitors to the downtown. The large central dock incorporates shaded seating areas and functions as a public event space. This innovative central dock is designed with in-water planters containing native mangroves, spartina grasses and a visible oyster reef set into the dock. Perhaps the first of its kind in the nation, the boat dock and promenade actually functions as a living system, filtering water and providing small pockets of habitat within an estuarine man-made structure.

The three new docks were carefully designed to align with the annual West Palm Beach Boat Show layout in order to establish permanent circulation spines for the event. This consideration reduces the cost and environmental impact of numerous steel pilings necessary for the Boat Show’s temporary docks. The alignment of the docks, while somewhat counterintuitive from a more traditional street-alignment planning, encouraged the Boat Show to contribute $1 million to the construction of the project. Another annual event along the Waterfront, Sunfest, also attaches temporary docks and floating bars to the docks for their multi-day event.

Significant grants for the project were also obtained from the Florida Inland Navigation District, accounting for another $4.25 million in funding. The docks, the first completed project area of the larger West Palm Beach Waterfront Project, won a Marine Industries Award in 2009 and has been covered in international journals.

Read more about the project here and here.

Artist / Designer: Michael Singer
Singer Studio Project Manager and Environmental Designer: Jason Bregman
Engineering: Technomarine, Taylor Engineering, CH2M Hill
City Project Manager: Joan Goldberg
Contractor: Whiting Turner and Technomarine
Landscape Architecture: Carolyn Pendleton Parker at Sanchez & Maddux Inc.
Lighting Design: Barbara Horton and Lee Brandt at HLB Lighting
Photography: Tom Hurst, David Stansbury and Forest Johnson

Living Docks