83 Freight

Smith Gee Studio

Situated on the site of an existing sinkhole and construction spoils, 83 Freight brings a modern, sustainable living option to a historically industrial neighborhood. As the largest residential shipping container project in North America, the design aimed at providing a bold and distinctive housing solution for the growing maker and artisan community occupying the area.

The 65,000 SF project, built from 173 repurposed “one trip” shipping containers stacked, rotated, and offset from each other, includes 83 residential units of varying studio, 1BR and 2BR sizes in three unique buildings. Utilizing shipping containers challenged the designers (and local officials) to abandon construction and detailing conventions and invent methods of systems integration, energy efficiency, and sound isolation, and to develop new code-compliant assemblies. Multiple design and construction challenges were resolved by having containers modified and structurally reinforced off-site with shop-cut utility openings, doors, windows, and selective wall removals before they arrived at the property. This integrative and modular approach provided an efficient building solution with fewer uncertainties, decreased construction site costs and time, and reduced waste. On both its exterior and interior, 83 Freight was designed to rejuvenate and celebrate the character of shipping containers that likely would have fallen waste to an environmentally imbalanced transport economy. The weathered exteriors, refinished marine-grade plywood floors, preserved ISO identification markings and exposed fluted metal ceilings are purposeful reminders of the journeys these homes once made. Through these deliberate expressions, the project serves as a reflection of its place, embracing its past while welcoming innovation.