NewYork Skyscraper History
A new form in skyscraper history has evolved in New York over the past decade: the super-slim, ultraluxury residential tower. These pencil-thin periscopes — all 50 to 90+ stories — use a development and design strategy of slenderness to pile their city-regulated maximum square feet of floor area (FAR) as high in the sky as possible to create luxury apartments defined by spectacular views. The basic, yet complex principles of the economics, engineering, and design of this new type of super-slender towers were detailed in The Skyscraper Museum’s 2013/14 exhibition SKY HIGH & the Logic of Luxury, which is archived in full text and images here.
One of the loveliest buildings of the post-2001-pre-2008 moment of slenderness is SKY HOUSE, a 55story slab rising on a lot just 45 ft. wide on 29th St and running through the block to 30th St, midblock between Fifth and Madison Ave. Having purchased air rights from the landmarked red brick “Little Church Around the Corner,” the developers, architects FXFOWLE, and engineers WSP Cantor Seinuk created a contextual design that emphasized verticality in the close set, brick-faced structural columns.
Their exploration of the design process is described in the video from a presentation for the skyscraper on February 19, 2009. One Madison was largely completed in 2009, but the project hit the market at the beginning of the recession, and the first developers had to declare bankruptcy and sell the building.
Residences range from 805 square-foot studios to a 7,143 square-foot triplex penthouse, and the property features luxurious amenities, including a spa, swimming pool, fitness center, media/screening room, children’s room, and outdoor terrace park. To create a serene and intimate entry, residents enter the building on 22nd Street, a configuration that also allows for a ground floor commercial space to complement the existing retail activity of 23rd Street.
The challenge of designing a tower on the same block as Mies van der Rohe’s modernist masterpiece, the Seagram Building, was given to British architect Sir Norman Foster by developers Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs of RFR Realty in 2005. The owners of both 100 East 53rd Street and the landmark Seagram Building, Rosen and Fuchs needed approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission and local community boards to begin construction on the tower, which alludes to its mid-century neighbors with a glass façade, exposed mullions, and a minimal, geometric form, while greatly exceeding it in terms of height and slenderness.
With no more than two apartments per floor, 45 East 22nd Street will feature full floor residences from the 55th floor up. Capping off at a height of 777 feet, the building will be the tallest in the Flatiron District, 135 feet taller than the nearby One Madison. Developed by Bruce Eichner with architects Kohn Pedersen Fox, the tower’s floor plans expand as it rises – swelling from 75 feet wide at its base to 125 feet at the top – allowing for a more floor area for the most expensive units in the buildings highest stories, and culminating in a 7,000 square foot duplex penthouse on the 64th and 65th floors.
The 778 foot, 64 floor Helmut Jahn-designed tower will feature a private observation deck on the top floor reserved exclusively for residents. Located blocks away from the World Trade Center and the Financial District, the slender skyscraper will offer views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty through its curvilinear Aside from the observation terrace, the building features a plethora of luxurious amenities, including a “water club,” full-floor fitness center, entertainment floor, and, on the third floor, fifteen “commercial condominiums,” or private offices, that vary in size from 280 to 830 square feet and are available for purchase by the tower’s residents.
Like other RAMSA towers, 520 Park Avenue evokes the form and texture of New York’s historic pre-war skyscrapers. Amenities include a salon, garden, health club and pool, as well as storage units and wine cellars with prices ranging from $125,000 to $275,000. Condominiums start at $16.2 million for 4,613 square foot, four bedroom, 5.5 bathroom, full-floor units on the 14th through 20th floors. The top floor triplex, available for $130 million with $51,000 in monthly fees and taxes, is 12,400 square feet with an addition 1,250 square feet of outdoor terraces. Manhattan, 111 Murray Street, developed by Fisher Borthers and Witkoff Group with architects Kohn Pedersen Fox, David Rockwell, and MR Architecture & Decór, will make a mark on the skyline with its distinctive flared glass top. Inspired by the form of Murano glass vases, the building’s glass facade expands outwards from the 40th floor to the 58th floor, reaching a height of 792 feet to offer unimpeded views of the Hudson River.
Located two blocks north of One World Trade on the edge of TriBeCa, 111 Murray Street will be built on 31,000 square foot lot, formerly the site of St. John University, that Fisher Brothers and Witkoff purchased for $223 million in 2013.
Designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, the tower at 56 Leonard stands apart from other slender towers. Its downtown location at the edge of chic Tribeca, a largely residential neighborhood in an area of converted late-19th century commercial structures, allows it to rise high above surrounding rooftops. Sited just outside the landmark district, and using air rights purchased from the adjacent New York Law School, the tower stretches to nearly 800 feet and 57 stories.
The unusual staggered silhouette, especially of the upper floors, that earned the nickname “the Jenga building” after the game of stacking and balancing wood blocks, also sets the form apart.
Set to be Lower Manhattan’s tallest new residential tower, at 898 feet, the Rafael Vinoly-design 125 Greenwich Street will reach 88 stories, though official figures and renderings have yet to be released. Located in the midst of the Financial District on a 9,000 square foot lot nearby the World Trade Center site, the pencil-thin tower is being developed by SHVO, Bizzi & Partners Development, and New Valley. While earlier images of the project showed a 1,350-foot, all-glass, rectangular extrusion, the latest unofficial renderings depict a series of three glass prisms, separated by landscaped terraces, anchored to a c oncrete spine, and topped off with a rectilinear spire.
Using slenderness as a strategy to lift its residences high in the sky, 30 Park Place, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Associates, pulls as far away as possible from the Woolworth Building — once the world’s tallest — with which it occupies the same block and now overtops. A courtyard separating the two enables 30 Park Place to achieve its height while with the 185-room The Four Seasons Hotel New York, Downtown on the lower 21 floors. The remainder of the tower, known as the Four Seasons Private Residences New York at 30 Park Place, will comprise 157 luxury condominiums, including full-floor penthouses and setback terraces, with some private residences as large as 6,000 sq. ft.. allowing Woolworth to remain as a free-standing structure.
Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, 220 Central Park South will rise 950 ft. and contain 83 luxury residential units when it is completed in 2017. The residences will be split between a 17-story villa and the adjacent 66-story tower. 220 Central Park South will stand out from the other towers in the 57th street locale, clad in limestone rather than glass and steel.Vornado Realty Trust, the project’s developer, participated in a power struggle with Extell, the developer of the nearby Central Park Tower, in the process of acquiring land and permits for 220 Central Park South.
At 1,004 ft. tall, One57 was the tallest residential tower in New York City when it was completed in 2014, only to be overtaken by 432 Park (which will in turn only keep its title until the Central Park Tower is completed). One57 is the breakthrough luxury project of the developer Gary Barnett of Extell. Targeted at an ultra-luxury market, One57 combines the program of a hotel and its services and amenities in the lower section and 94 condominium units in the tower. One57 is well-known today for its recordbreaking $100 million penthouse sale in January 2015.
Hudson Yards will be the second residential building constructed in the Hudson Yards megaproject 35 and will feature six floors of office space, 200 hotel rooms, and 137 luxury condominiums. At 70 stories and 1,009 ft., the tower, designed by David Childs with SOM, will be one of the tallest residential buildings in the city and the second tallest of the seven Eastern Yard towers. Like 15 Hudson Yards, the skyscraper has seen design changes, beginning as a 900-foot tower with curvilinear setbacks, then transforming to a cylindrical design. The most recent set of renderings show the building as boxier with setbacks and a curvy top. 2009.
Designed by the acclaimed French architect Jean Nouvel, the MoMA Tower, which his studio named Tour Verre, successfully made its way through the review process of the City Planning Commission in the summer of 2009, although with a reduction of height from the original proposal for 1,250 ft., which was cut down to 1,050 ft. The project was halted, however, by the severe recession in financial markets that effectively ended all real estate lending. The project has since been revived, and construction began in 2015.
MoMA will be integrated into the tower: the third, fourth and fifth floors of the new building will serve as 40,000 sq. ft. of additional gallery space for the museum, and residences of the tower will receive benefactor memberships to the museum.
Brooklyn’s first entry into the category of super-slenders, and its future tallest building, is another record-setting project by the same team of developer and architect, JDS and SHoP, responsible for the skinniest of all Manhattan towers, 111 W. 57th Street. At 1,066 feet, the building now known as 9 DeKalb, will dominate the in Downtown Brooklyn skyline. Unlike all the Manhattan towers, though, it will be a rental building that contains 500 rental units, of which 20 percent will be “affordable” due to the project’s 421-a tax exemption status.
With a flat rooftop that squares off at 1,396 ft., 432 Park Avenue is — in the words of its developers Macklowe Properties and the CIM Group — the loftiest residence “in the Western Hemisphere.” At that height, it will be taller than the 1,368-foot roof of One World Trade Center and the roof of original WTC Tower 1, which from 1971-1973 was the world’s tallest building. However, two taller residential buildings will beat out 432 Park’s title upon their completion in 2018: 111 W 57th and the Central Park Tower.
The feather-thin tower, projected to rise 1,438 ft., under construction at 111 W 57th St. is the most extreme example in New York to date of a design that uses a development strategy of slenderness.
With a ratio of the width of the base to height of 1:23, it will be by far the most slender building in the world. The stepped-back silhouette of tower, which uses textured terra-cotta ornament to disguise the concrete shear wall structure, shows the inventiveness of both the architects, SHoP, and the engineers, the WSP Group.
Expected to be completed in 2020, Central Park Tower (previously know as the Nordstrom Tower) will be the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere. Designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture – who, while working for architects Skidmore, Owingss & Merill, designed the world’s current tallest building, the 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa – the Central Park Tower is purported to have the highest roof in the nation at 1,569 ft.. Besides its near-200 residential units, the building will house a hotel and a 363,000 square-foot Nordstrom department store in its base.
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