Owner: Howard Hughes Corp.; New York
Architect: SHoP Architects; New York
PPG Metal Coatings: PPG DURANAR® Powder Coating PPG Duranar SUNSTORM® Coating
PPG Certified Coatings Applicator: Spectrum Metal Finishing, Inc.; Youngstown, Ohio

Project Overview

Located in New York City’s South Street Seaport, Pier 17 anchors an extensive redevelopment project that is focused on transforming the historic Lower Manhattan neighborhood into a thriving cultural, retail and entertainment center.

Yet, for PPG and Spectrum Metal Finishing, the project is serving a secondary purpose: as the proving ground for New York City’s first application of PPG DURANAR® powder coatings in a challenging marine environment.

PPG DURANAR® powder coating was used on the newly redesigned Pier 17 at South Street Seaport in New York City, making it the first application of the coating in a challenging marine environment. Photo credit: © Francis Zera

Photo credit: © Francis Zera

Four Demands

As the firm selected to rehabilitate Pier 17, a once-thriving festival pavilion that had devolved into a dreary indoor mall, SHoP Architects had four essential demands for the metal coatings supplier.

The first was that, due to its location on the East River five miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the coating had to include a long-term warranty covering film integrity, chalk and color fade. The second was that the metal coating must be solvent-free to help the project earn points toward LEED® certification for the exterior curtain wall components. The third and fourth requirements were that the coatings applicator had to be certified by both the ISO (International Standards Organization) and the coatings manufacturer.

To meet the first objective, Scott Moffatt, PPG market manager, building products, suggested a PPG Duranar powder topcoat, but only if it could be applied over a robust liquid primer.

“One-coat powder systems are increasingly popular and a good option for metal building components in normal building environments,” Moffatt explained. “They are not a good choice for applications like those on Pier 17, which are vulnerable to failure because they are constantly exposed to moisture and salt-air. The only solution to achieving the warranty the architect required with a powder coating was to apply it as part of a two-coat system over a proven primer to optimize corrosion protection.”

Photo credit: © Francis Zera

Photo credit: © Francis Zera

To fulfill the rest of the demands, PPG turned to Spectrum Metal Finishing, which in addition to being ISO-certified and a long-time PPG/CAP certified applicator, is one of the few companies of its kind to operate liquid and powder coating lines in the same facility. This enabled the company to finish the job in turnkey fashion under one roof.

PPG also worked extensively with the architect to develop a custom color for the aluminum curtain wall extrusions on Pier 17. Neil Chrisman, president, Spectrum Metal Finishing, said the architect wanted mill-finished aluminum with an industrial look and a clear top coat.

“They could never really achieve that look and still get the adhesion and warranty they wanted, so PPG came up with a silver color that looks like a weathered mill aluminum. I can’t tell you how many different submittals they did, but they eventually got the look the architect wanted,” he added.

Photo credit: © Francis Zera

Photo credit: © Francis Zera

Let the Sunshine In

Another unusual aspect of the Pier 17 project is the application of PPG Duranar coatings, which are designed primarily for exterior metals, on more than 500 interior wall panels. They are visible through two stacked rows of 20-foot-tall light boxes that compose much of the building façade.

“Spectrum developed this very unique stencil, basically a dot matrix pattern, to diffuse sunlight as it comes through the light boxes,” Chrisman explained. “We painted the metal panels with a silver-grey Duranar SUNSTORM® coating, then applied the stencil and painted them again with a bone-white Duranar coating. After the second coat dried, we peeled off the stencil.”

During the day, the sunlight coming through the light boxes strikes the dot pattern and diffuses. At night, the dot pattern helps disperse the spray of colors projected onto the building, giving the façade a bright, carnival-like appearance.

“Everything looks beautiful and there is no risk of the panels inside the glass chalking or fading from UV exposure because they are finished with Duranar [coatings],” Chrisman said. “The metal panels also eliminated the need for the expensive glass frits that were originally specified for the job, which was a significant cost savings.”

Photo credit: C. Taylor Crothers for The Howard Hughes Corporation

Photo credit: C. Taylor Crothers for The Howard Hughes Corporation

PPG Duranar powder coatings are based on the same 70- percent polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) formulation as PPG Duranar liquid coatings, which have been trusted to protect and beautify buildings for more than 50 years.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, PPG Duranar powder coatings provide hard surfaces that are extremely resistant to damage during fabrication, shipping, installation and use. When applied over a liquid primer, they are an exceptional choice for harsh seacoast and industrial environments.

PPG Duranar Sunstorm coatings, which are featured in the exterior light boxes, incorporate the same two-coat  application as conventional PPG Duranar coatings, with the  addition of a mica pearlescent flake to create a dazzling metalescent appearance.

Opened in the summer of 2018, Pier 17 is seen nationally every night as the waterfront broadcast studios for ESPN, the building’s first major tenant. Surrounded by a vast riverfront esplanade, the building’s rooftop also houses an open-air marketplace and concert venue with panoramic views of many New York landmarks.


About Spectrum Metal Finishing
Since its founding in 1993, Spectrum Metal Finishing, Inc., has been a major force in the metal coatings industry. The company, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018, has facilities and capabilities not found at any other company  east of the Mississippi River. Spectrum ships products to customers and job sites throughout the United States, Eastern Canada, the Pacific Rim and the Caribbean.

To contact a member of the PPG Certified Applicator Program, or to learn more about PPG Duranar coatings, visit www.ppgmetalcoatings.com or call 1-800-258-6398.

Duranar, Sunstorm and the PPG logo are registered trademarks of PPG Industries Ohio, Inc.
LEED – an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® – is a registered trademark of the U.S. Green Building Council