Containment: Shipping Container Turned Studio in The Hamptons, Progress At Stalled-ish Container-Inspired Red Hook Green

Shipping containers: they’re not necessarily designed as living spaces. But some ambitious New York-area designers are working on that.

Depending on how much time you’ve spent watching season two of The Wire, your first association with the words “shipping container” may or may not be kind of dark. Even if you’ve missed out on season two, though, chances are that the first thing you think upon seeing one of those steel rectangles is not, “Cool, I would totally live in there.” And yet while the proportions of a shipping container are modest relative to, say, a condo at Riverhouse, we’re continually blown away here at gbNYC by just how much innovative green design can be done — and is currently being done — with one of those workhorse boxes. Jetson Green’s Preston Koerner has news on an innovative shipping container design project by Long Island architect Maziar Behrooz, which is pictured above and will briefly be discussed below. Perhaps more intriguingly for gbNYC readers who have followed our previous coverage of Red Hook’s ultra-ambitious Net Zero Red Hook Green project — which features a design inspired by shipping containers and the coverage of which, sadly, is currently another casualty of the WordPress makeover — there’s been some movement on that seemingly stalled project. So: once more into the containers, then.

Artist Amanda Shapiro had budgeted $60,000 for a studio space in Amagansett, and an architect in Behrooz who knew how to get a lot of bang for the buck: stacking two shipping containers ($2,500 plus shipping) on a concrete foundation. The result was an 850-square-foot studio space with 18-foot ceilings, a ton of natural light, and about as sustainable a backstory as can be imagined. Cool photos of the studio can be found both at Behrooz’s website and Inhabitat. (They’re pretty much the same photos, but when you’re this late on a total wheelhouse story, it seems polite to link to everyone who beat you to it) There’s admittedly not that much investigative grit to this story, but the pictures are pretty sweet. It’s not a living space, but the idea of any structure in the Hamptons being available for five figures is also pretty stunning.

And then there’s Red Hook Green, which I wrote a — if I may say so myself — fairly epic post on some months ago. Jay Amato’s Red Hook vision quest is one of the most interesting green building projects in New York City, and one of the most ambitious — a live/work space with true Net Zero efficiency, built from scratch. Amato’s clearly a smart guy (he’s got gbNYC on his blogroll, so that’s kind of obvious) and his cause is just, but there was something both disheartening and oddly heartening about watching the ambition of Red Hook Green — Amato’s first blog post on the subject, introducing the project, is here, and is just a little under 10 months old — get ground down by the process of running into the costs and complications of building a super-green structure without Big Real Estate dough, as well as by the bureaucratic black hole of the New York City building process. Amato’s spirits stayed up, his ambition stayed intact… and then the posts started to become less and less frequent. Almost the entire month of February went by without a post, before he revealed his final design on February 24. Another month or so went by before Amato detailed his struggles to generate enough power for both the home and office space and the in-garage electric car charge. Six weeks after that, Amato was back, and palpably frustrated, in his last post, on May 5. “Let me put your minds at ease, I have not abandoned this blog or my project,” he wrote. “I started to write this post many times over the last month, but most were unproductive diatribes on those responsible for our delays.” He went on to reveal that the project was now over 60 days behind schedule, and that final go-ahead from the New York City Department of Buildings was still 45 to 60 days away.

To be honest, I’d stopped checking Amato’s blog regularly at that point, which means that his month-old post is currently news to me. But there’s good news in there, amid all the news of delay and frustration: Amato’s final designs are up, and they’re every bit as bold-looking and forward-thinking as they’ve always been. Red Hook Green, with its shipping container aesthetic intact and its ambition as vast and laudable as ever, is still a going concern. I’m going to have more on this, including hopefully an email with Jay Amato, sometime this month.

About David Roth

Since September of 2009, David Roth has served as the Managing Editor of gbNYC. David lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his wife, and is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New Republic and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications. You can contact David at

about gbNYC

gbNYC is a multi-disciplinary consulting and real estate services firm. In addition to representing office tenants and commercial buyers in leasing and acquisitions, we also provide innovative consulting solutions from a unique, green building perspective. We advise on green building financial incentives, comment on proposed green building marketing strategies, author white papers, treatises, and market analyses, organize seminars on the LEED process and professional accreditation, and provide advice and analysis on green building risk management and the overall state of green real estate, leasing, and construction, in New York City and beyond.

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One Response to Containment: Shipping Container Turned Studio in The Hamptons, Progress At Stalled-ish Container-Inspired Red Hook Green

  1. Olwen Huxley Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    Check out the Solar Decathlon houses from past competitions (the next one is in 2011). All of those structures have to be self-powered (i.e. PV), including charging an electric car, and transportable on a flatbed i.e. container-sized. They have been exceedingly frugal with the space, but when you walk around them, cramped they are definitely not, plus they look cool.

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