Construction Update: The Hudson Yards

7-Line Station and Hudson Boulevard

As spring has sprung, the pace of construction has picked up at Related’s Hudson Yards development, and the formwork for 10 Hudson Yards is beginning to command local prominence. Besides progress at Coach’s future headquarters, activity is also occurring across the rest of the site, and the rest of phase I will soon begin to rise.

10 Hudson Yards

10 Hudson Yards

The intricacies of 10 Hudson Yards’ cantilever over The High Line are obvious, as extensive formwork is now in place over the elevated park. As the Coach Tower ascends beyond the complicated lower floors, the pace of its construction should begin to speed up. The building is already looming over the end of The High Line, and by the summer, it will likely surpass 500 West 30th Street, beginning its short-lived domination of the local skyline.

10 Hudson Yards

10 Hudson Yards at center; 500 West 30th Street at right, the AVA High line at left

Progress on the platform that will support several of the development’s towers is also evident, as is work on the right-of-way for Amtrak’s Gateway project, which will hopefully link New York to New Jersey with additional tunnels. Excavation equipment is well below street-level, and concrete pours for the tunnel’s foundation are evident closer to Tenth Avenue.

Amtrak Gateway Excavation

Amtrak Gateway Excavation

The scope of work at The Hudson Yards is enormous, though one piece of the puzzle is nearing completion; construction appears to be wrapping up on the new 7-line stop at 34th Street. The station is expected to open this year, along with the adjacent landscaped plaza, which will eventually be integrated into the ‘Hudson Boulevard,’ forming the neighborhood’s key pedestrian arterial.

Pavers for the new park-plaza-hybrid beckon pedestrian access, and clumps of dirt denote future hills for landscaping purposes. The 7-station’s surrounds underscore how even the ‘natural’ parts of Manhattan are man-made, though Hudson Boulevard certainly takes technology to a level that Frederick Law Olmstead could have only imagined.

Hudson Boulevard Pavers

Hudson Boulevard Pavers

Completion of the Hudson Yards’ first phase of construction is expected in 2018.

The Hudson Yards

The Hudson Yards

The Hudson Yards

The Hudson Yards

10 Hudson Yards

10 Hudson Yards

10 Hudson Yards

10 Hudson Yards

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Posted in 10 Hudson Yards | Architecture | Construction Update | Hudson Yards | Kohn Pederson Fox | Midtown | New York | Office | Related | Residential | Supertall

New Look: The Plaza at Hudson Yards

The Plaza at Hudson Yards -- image from Nelson Byrd Woltz

While the vertical element of Related’s Hudson Yards may be the site’s most prominent attribute, the creation of a public square at the ground-level will cement the mega-project’s iconic status, and new renderings from landscape architects Nelson Byrd Woltz reveal the latest plans.

The renderings look to be missing the most visually significant aspect of the plaza, which is a sculptural element that Related Chairman Stephen Ross has described as greater than “the Christmas tree [at] Rockefeller Center, but 365 days a year. It will be to this city what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.”

The Plaza at Hudson Yards

The Plaza at Hudson Yards — image from Nelson Byrd Woltz

Nevertheless, the images give a glimpse of what the pedestrian experience will be like when traversing the Hudson Yards, and the thoughtfulness and interactivity of the site is impressive. Per Nelson Byrd Woltz’ page on the project, “landscape design for Hudson Yards employs spectacle, fountains, art, and horticulture to set it apart from its neighbors,” and the description looks spot-0n; Thomas Heatherwick‘s mark on the park is also apparent, as flowing stairs — one of his trademarks — are incorporated into the plaza.

The Plaza at Hudson Yards

The Plaza at Hudson Yards — image from Nelson Byrd Woltz

Even with the admitted spectacle, the landscaping will help develop a context for the surrounding buildings, as the new neighborhood is literally sprouting from nothing. While the renderings do not offer a complete perspective, the most notable beneficiary of the park’s aesthetics appears to be the ‘Culture Shed’ at the base of the Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed ‘D’ tower.

Besides providing a visual anchor to the pedestrian realm, integrating the Shed into the new park is important because it will be the only truly human-scaled structure of the Hudson Yards, providing a link between the ground-level plaza, The High Line, and the skyscrapers that will tower above.

The Plaza at Hudson Yards

The Plaza at Hudson Yards — image from Nelson Byrd Woltz

Work on the new plaza will begin shortly; the first office towers are already rising, and completion of the park should occur well before 2020.

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Posted in Architecture | Hudson Yards | Midtown | Midtown West | Nelson Byrd Woltz | New York | Parks | Related

Beyond Railyards: Related to Create Entire Mini-City

Phase I of Related's Hudson Yards, with the eastern railyards visible - image from KPF

While Related’s Hudson Yards is an enormous development in and of itself, the company has entered into a series of deals over the past year that have greatly expanded its real estate in the neighborhood. Now, after several purchases, Related’s holdings give it the unprecedented ability to develop an entire mini-city beyond the actual rail-yards.

The largest potential extends along Hudson Boulevard, which will be a new pedestrian spine for the neighborhood, extending north from the center of the rail-yards redevelopment, which will consist of a new public square. Millions of square feet of new air rights were created in the 2005 re-zoning, and the boulevard will divide the blocks between 10th and 11th Avenues, allowing for the creation of at least seven new office towers – each of which has the ability to rise 1,000 feet, or more.

Related has made bold moves to extend beyond the rail-yards, and may soon own the entire block to the north. One Hudson Yards, originally proposed by Extell, was acquired in a land-swap last summer; a recent presentation by the Hudson Yards Development Corp indicates Related has now downsized that project to one million square feet, from a prior figure of 1.7 MSF. The branding conflict caused by the building’s address – and its ownership by rival developer Extell – has now been resolved, though no plans for the site’s new design have been made public. Re-named ‘One Hudson Boulevard’ – averting potential confusion with Related’s Hudson Yards towers – the site could begin rising shortly, as sub-grade levels were completed with the 7-train’s extension. The HYDC report on the site indicates construction will begin in 2014, though whether the tower remains entirely commercial is unknown.

To the east lies the future Two Hudson Boulevard, which could become the largest tower of the entire district – possibly surpassing the 1,337-foot Hudson Yards North Tower. The site is significantly larger than One Hudson Boulevard and, accordingly, holds 2.3 million square feet of air rights. The parcel is partially occupied by a drive-through McDonald’s – a testament to the neighborhood’s current neglect – but per a recent press release, Related now controls both One and Two Hudson Boulevard, giving them ownership of the entire block. This would explain the down-sizing of One Hudson Boulevard, as Related could transfer the unused square footage to Two Hudson Boulevard – resulting in a tower that holds three million square feet of space. The site’s available air rights indicate a massive scope, as the building could become one of the largest in New York City; indeed, if Related does manage to transfer the air rights, the tower will rank as Manhattan’s third largest, behind only 55 Water Street and the MetLife Building. With the modern preference for high ceilings, the tower will be significantly taller than either of the aforementioned, possibly taking the title of New York’s tallest.

Beyond the block immediately above the rail-yards, Crain’s reports that Related acquired a parcel between 35th and 36th Streets, and is also in talks with Alloy to buy their site at 450 Hudson Boulevard, which had illustrative mock-ups released back in 2007. If Related manages to strike a deal with Alloy – and their persistence in negotiating with both the city and Extell would seem to make that a likely outcome – the company would control the entire block between 35th and 36th Streets.

Ignoring the potential for future acquisitions – which seem likely – Related is poised to control four of the seven sites along Hudson Boulevard that can accommodate major towers. The company’s new real estate is significant for several reasons, but the most obvious is their excision of control over the area’s office market, which could become saturated with new developments quite quickly, especially if rival developers build projects of their own. Though Related’s expansion borders on a monopolization of the re-zoning, it’s actually a good thing, as the new skyscrapers can be built with eye for visual cohesion in mind – and the possibility of a glut in new space will also be minimized. While the twelve million square feet of air rights associated with the rail-yards are enormous on their own, the adjacent properties Related has acquired complete the package, and now represent the largest development undertaken in New York City’s history, surpassing both Rockefeller Center and the World Trade Center.

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Posted in Architecture | Construction Update | Hudson Yards | Megaproject | Midtown | New York | Office | Related | Residential | Supertall | Zoning

Construction Update: Coach Tower

The Hudson Yards - Coach Tower

Construction on Related’s Hudson Yards is speeding right along, as the Coach Tower is just about ready to ascend into visible range. The office building’s foundation is creeping above ground level, and now stands level with The High Line. More work is visible from Eleventh Avenue, which offers a window into the below-ground happenings of the enormous site.

Eventually the Kohn Pederson Fox-designed Coach Tower will rise 895 feet and 52 floors, and the building will contain 1.7 million square feet of space; in terms of volume that is not enormous, but it will still be one of the larger office towers to rise in New York in the past ten years, surpassed only by the towers of the World Trade Center and One Bryant Park. In this regard, the entire Hudson Yards development is significant because it represents the creation of a whole new central business district, given its removal from the traditional prime avenues of Midtown.

Besides work on the Coach Tower’s superstructure, demolition has also begun on old ancillary buildings on the railyard site, paving the way for future construction of the Hudson Yards’ North Tower, along with the enormous retail complex that will connect the two office towers. The North Tower, which Time Warner has tentatively committed to lease, will sit on the northeastern corner of the site, with the retail podium filling the gap between the two towers; its scale is hard to imagine, but once built, the complex will transform the far West Side with over 750,000 square feet of shopping space, in addition to the two office buildings. Work will also soon begin on the Equinox and DSR towers, both of which will also be taller than Coach’s building.

The Coach Tower is scheduled to open in 2015.

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Posted in Architecture | Coach Tower | Construction Update | Hudson Yards | Kohn Pederson Fox | Midtown | Midtown West | New York | Office | Related | Supertall

Seaport City Coming Closer to Reality?

Seaport City rendering, from the draft plan

Mayor Bloomberg’s vision to protect New York from future storm surge events and effects relating to ongoing climate change may be coming closer to reality, as NYEDC is now soliciting RFPs for the planned Seaport City development, which will form a new buffer between Manhattan and New York Harbor along the island’s southeast corner – the development is described as a ‘multi-purpose levee.’

Originally unveiled earlier this summer – as part of ‘A Stronger, More Resilient New York‘ – the Seaport City project may actually be legitimate, and not just a pipe dream. New York has seen several proposals involving landfill go nowhere, including an ambitious plan to connect Governor’s Island to Manhattan – that has obviously not yet occurred. Still, much of coastal Manhattan is landfill, and past projects like Battery Park City show the idea to be feasible.

Battery Park City is an especially apt comparison in light of Sandy, which barely touched the neighborhood despite the fact that it juts into New York Harbor. According to The New York Times’ Sandy flood map, much of the neighborhood actually avoided the rise of the Hudson – and the entirety actually became a separate island at the height of the surge. Adjacent blocks of Tribeca and the Financial District were devastated, and parts of the World Trade Center site were also flooded.

NYC Flooding During Sandy

NYC Flooding During Sandy, map via The New York Times

Much like the Financial District, the South Street Seaport vicinity was heavily damaged, with water rising up to ten feet. Many establishments have only just begun to re-open, as the damage was so great – the neighborhood is home to an older building stock, and many buildings power equipment was completely destroyed.

There is enormous pressure for new real estate in New York, so planning a new neighborhood that also functions as an enormous levee makes sense, and also makes storm protection more cost-efficient – though one thing the city must address is FDR Drive, which would bisect the new neighborhood from Manhattan. Making the same mistakes that have occurred with Battery Park City would be unwise, and leaving FDR Drive elevated would divide the new Seaport City, potentially creating a sterile environment.

As the new neighborhood could stretch from Battery Park to 14th Street - if the scope does follow what the initial plans indicate, as seen below – an inventive solution could put FDR at the existing shoreline, and capping it with the new neighborhood. This way, the levee could serve to protect from flooding, while also fixing traffic and re-unifying the East Side with the waterfront.

Proposed Defenses

Proposals for NYC – the levee would stretch from Battery Park to 14th Street, via NYC.Gov

A truly bold move would have buildings face the harbor themselves; there is no reason seawall-quality steel could not be integrated into a facade, and a design for Seaport City that integrates its structures into a sea wall would be innovative and save an enormous amount of money, while allowing the sea wall to rise higher in the few unprotected spots between new buildings. Humans have gone beyond creating shorelines, and are now on the verge of controlling them; Manhattan would be an excellent first example.

Posted in Architecture | Downtown | Megaproject | New York | Seaport City

Construction Update: Fulton Center

Fulton Center

Exterior work is wrapping up on Fulton Center, which is looking better and better as it approaches completion – opening is slated for 2014. Even in the summer, much of the building is stuck in the shade; the genius behind the oculus is already apparent in the above photo set, as it will allow for significantly more light to enter the transit hall, even while much of the building is in the shade.

Fulton Center will also contain 65,000 square feet of retail space, another major contribution to future pedestrian activity in the neighborhood. With both Fulton Center and the World Trade Center’s mall set to open in the near future, the FiDi may actually be on its way to becoming a prime shopping destination for tourists.

Besides the shopping, eleven subway lines will be linked beneath Fulton Center; it may not be the largest station, but it will prove to be an important waypoint for many commuters. Fulton Center is a vast improvement from the old subway stop, which was simply a maze of passageways, and will hopefully help further accelerate the FiDi renaissance.

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Posted in Architecture | Construction Update | Downtown | Fulton Street Transit Center | New York | Transit

Construction Update: Calatrava’s Transit Hub

World Trade Center Transit Hub

Calatrava’s Transit Hub is now rising out of its enormous pit, and the first sign of visible progress is the beginning of the steel spine which will connect all of the enormous ‘wings,’ the Transit Hub’s most distinguishing design element. The terminal will eventually reach 150 feet in height, far greater than the current stub, and the Hub will be an integral part of the new World Trade Center.

With construction wrapping up on both One World Trade and 150 Greenwich, the greater World Trade Center site is now two years away from regaining some semblance of normalcy; the completion of the Transit Hub will be pivotal in returning the site back to the pedestrian realm.

The Transit Hub’s cost has skyrocketed to $3.9 billion, which is almost as much as One World Trade Center – originally, the project was expected to cost $1.9 billion. No design is justified by such an exorbitant price-tag, and though the Transit Hub will probably look phenomenal, $3.9 billion could certainly have been spent on far better things.

Completion of the Transit Hub is expected for 2015, which is one year after Fulton Center is expected to open – taken together, the opening of both train stations will have a dramatic impact on the Financial District, which will finally have dramatic, visible, and attractive focal points for mass transit.

Posted in 1 WTC | Architecture | Construction Update | Downtown | New York | Transit | World Trade Center | WTC Transit Center

Construction Update: Fulton Transit Center

The Fulton Center is almost finished, and glass is finally being installed along the base. The project will connect 11 different MTA lines, so it will be incredibly important once complete. The actual transit center is quite underwhelming for a price-tag of $1.4 Billion, though perhaps the interiors will prove otherwise. The architects of the project are James Carpenter Design Associates.

The ‘oculus,’ which rests on top of the base, is the Fulton Center’s distinguishing element. Unfortunately it lacks prominence, and the below photos show the oculus’ lack of visibility from most angles. The aesthetic of the oculus is secondary to its function–allowing natural light into Fulton Center, in turn creating an open and inviting public space. This is something all public works projects should strive for.

Completion of the Fulton Center is slated for mid-2014 per the MTA. Like all timetables released by the MTA, that is probably tentative.

Fulton Center
Fulton Center

Fulton Center
Fulton Center

Fulton Center
Fulton Center

Posted in Construction Update | Downtown | Fulton Street Transit Center | Transit

Calatrava’s Transit Center: Completing New York’s Downtown Renaissance

Image from Urban Omnibus

While many New Yorkers bemoan the ugliness of Penn Station, a dramatic new transportation gateway is now under construction in Lower Manhattan.

The most visible progress since the 9/11 attacks has been the reconstruction of the new World Trade Center, but another notable aspect that seems to have been forgotten is the massive transit center now being built. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the World Trade Center Transit Hub is going to be a monument to modern design and engineering, as well as cost-overruns given the project’s now $3.8 billion pricetag (although figures vary, it’s always wiser to use the higher estimates).

Originally slated to cost $2.2 billion, the project’s cost-overruns certainly aren’t unwarranted given the complexity of the project. While downtown subway lines are currently connected in a jumbled warren of underground passageways, the Calatrava hub promises to link everything in a stately and world-class terminal fitting for Lower Manhattan. In total, eleven separate subway lines (the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, E, J, N, R, and Z trains) will be linked together, along with the PATH train to New Jersey. The new Fulton Street Transit Center will also be connected to the Calatrava Hub by an underground link.

All in all, the new Center will encompass 1.3 million square feet of development. 800,000 square feet will be used for transit purposes, while the Center will also feature 500,000 square feet of retail space. The Port Authority’s website further states that 250,000 people are expected to use the Center each day, a staggering number. Calatrava’s Hub will be the third largest transit center in New York in terms of square footage, although aesthetically it will only compare to Grand Central as a gateway to Manhattan.

While the chief purpose of the Hub may be functional, the new gateway is nonetheless extremely aesthetically pleasing, perhaps partially explaining the $3.4 billion pricetag. Soaring white fingers complete the ‘oculus’ of the Hub, with the overall structure reaching 150 feet in height. The main hall will be extremely grand, with the oculus and retail component combining to create a truly phenomenal pedestrian experience.

Calatrava’s terminal manages to combine grandeur with effortless simplicity, and the result is sure to be stunning. Work is well underway, and completion is scheduled for 2015. More information can be found at the World Trade Center website.

The oculus taking shape: image from lofter1 at Wirednewyork via the Earthcam

Posted in Calatrava | Construction Update | Downtown | Transit | WTC Transit Center

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