Rotterdam’s port has shifted closer to the sea, freeing up the old inner harbours for new urban developments in the city centre. As a result the warehouses on the Wilhelminapier are making way for new high-rise residential and office buildings with restaurants and cultural facilities at street level. The pier was once the gateway to the New World as ocean steamers took emigrants to America; now cruise ships moor here. The former headquarters of the Holland America Line at the head of the pier have been strikingly transformed into the Hotel New York. The northern quayside contains mainly freestanding office towers; designs by Norman Foster and Renzo Piano are already complete. In 1999, Mecanoo was commissioned to develop a masterplan for the southern quayside, which is intended for housing. The resulting plan sought to avoid a sharp contrast with the nearby office buildings – to not create housing blocks with a rigid repetition of balconies and monotonous fenestration, but instead to provide generous, neutral floor plates flexible enough for living and working, and further, to create an open and inviting base at street level. When the brief later called for a tall residential tower, it was possible to develop these principles and the ‘Holland-America feeling’ even further.