Future Look: 57th Street’s Evolving Supertall Skyline

225 W 57th, One57, 111 W 57th, and 53 W 53rd, image by Armand Boudreaux for YIMBY, original via Google Earth

While YIMBY recently revealed Extell’s Nordstrom Tower, the first glimpse lacked a perspective of the structure’s impact on the broader Midtown skyline. Now, with the help of illustrator Armand Boudreaux, YIMBY has fresh images of the skyscraper’s position on the skyline, including nearby developments like 220 Central Park South, 111 West 57th Street, 432 Park Avenue, and 53 West 53rd Street.

Midtown's Future Skyline

432 Park, 111 W. 57th, 53 W. 53rd, One57, 225 W. 57th, and 220 CPS, image by Armand Boudreaux for YIMBY, original via Google Earth

Height is the most obvious commonality among the new projects, and taken individually, the developments are enormous in their own right. Collectively, the towers will redefine the Midtown skyline in a positive way, showcasing New York’s continued dominance as the pre-eminent global city.

Shadows over Central Park have been described as an issue by some, but the battle against height restrictions was lost with the 250-foot-tall Plaza Hotel, which was built back in 1907. Midtown Manhattan is already among the densest places in the world, with over one hundred skyscrapers standing over 500 feet tall, and as the renderings show, the new supertalls will certainly be prominent — but the additional impact on the park of these slender towers will be minimal.

Midtown's Future Skyline

Midtown’s Future Skyline, image by Armand Boudreaux for YIMBY, original via Google Earth

With an existing plateau approximately 800 feet above street level, the new supertalls will add variety to the skyline, harkening back to 1920s Manhattan, which is most certainly a good thing. Midtown’s mesa-like appearance is adequate, but begs for dramatic peaks — which the 57th Street towers will deliver — and those are what ultimately define an iconic vista.

432 Park Avenue is already dwarfing One57 when viewed from Central Park, but the prominence of Midtown’s first residential supertall will fall further once 111 West 57th Street and the Nordstrom Tower surround it on both sides; indeed, the city’s first tower designed for billionaires will soon be relegated to second-class status, in a land where the newest and biggest tend to be most expensive. (Who even remembers CitySpire?)

Midtown's Future Skyline

Midtown’s Future Skyline, image by Armand Boudreaux for YIMBY, original via Google Earth

Finally, the Nordstrom Tower will result in a temporary peak, 1,775 feet above street level. The spire atop Extell’s latest project will become the highest manmade object in Midtown, providing a literal summit point for the skyline’s continued evolution.

The aforementioned buildings will soon result in a new nascent plateau, as 432 Park, 111 West 57th, and Nordstrom Tower will all have roof heights of approximately 1,400 feet above street level. Given the continued boom and New York’s housing crunch, additional supertalls of similar heights are likely, and New York’s future skyline will soon resemble the Manhattan of 100 years ago, albeit on a much larger scale. Additional supertalls will also fill out the skyline at the new plateau, improving the skyline, which is always more than the sum of its parts.

Midtown's Future Skyline

Midtown’s Future Skyline, image by Armand Boudreaux for YIMBY, original via Google Earth

This speaks to the idea of filtering, and how all residential property gradually filters down to lower-income households in the long run, which is why the current boom will eventually benefit New Yorkers of a wider income spectrum — from the mere-millionaires who may eventually live in these apartments, to those in the outer-boroughs and Upper Manhattan who won’t be priced out by those seeking luxury property. The more supertalls that rise, the less their intrinsic value will be; given time, the subdivision of mega-condos seems likely.

Additionally, as supertall technology continues to improve, more mass-market developments like 520 West 41st Street, which if approved would include sizable affordable housing set-asides, are appearing on the horizon. If New York State can cast off its onerous limit on residential FAR, and if local zoning can be modified, Midtown Manhattan could become a more vibrant place where people both live and work, reducing the burden on transportation systems.

Midtown's Future Skyline

Midtown’s Future Skyline, image by Armand Boudreaux for YIMBY, original via Google Earth

The evolution of Manhattan’s skyline is a gradual process, but change over the next decade will be immense — and if less restrictive zoning can be implemented, the benefits of supertall construction will soon extend to New Yorkers of all incomes.

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Posted in 111 West 57th Street | 217 West 57th Street | 220 Central Park South | 225 West 57th Street | 432 Park Avenue | 45 East 60th Street | 520 Park Avenue | 53 West 53rd Street | 57th street | Midtown | Nordstrom | Supertall | The Nordstrom Tower

Changing NYC Workforce Means Changing Office Needs

Related's Hudson Yards towers, image by Related/Oxford and Visualhouse

A slew of super-sized office buildings are set to rise in Manhattan over the next several years, punctuating the city’s skyline with new spires of glass. Towers with over 10 million square feet of class A space – at the World Trade Center, Hudson Yards and Midtown proper – are either under construction or looking for tenants and financing.

With tenants lined up at for the first two office buildings at Hudson Yards and nearly half of the space committed at One and Four World Trade Center, these glittering giants are going for the globe’s elite corporations. Marquee tenants desire marquee buildings. Ten million square feet of Class A office space is set to rise in New York in the next few years, most of it underwritten by billions of dollars of public investments and tax abatements.

But as much as the city’s future competitiveness rests with satisfying the office needs of Fortune 500 companies, it also depends on attracting and nurturing startups in high-growth industries like tech, media, and design. These firms require a different sort of office space, and they’re finding it in less traditional buildings outside of Midtown’s office district.

There is rising concern that the city will not have enough flexible office space that meets the needs of startups, tech firms and creative businesses. City officials hope that it is these types of businesses that will propel the city’s economy through the 21st century, just as finance did during the second half of the twentieth.

These firms tend to shun the corporate Class A tower for more flexible spaces in Class B and Class C buildings. They are seeking space in Chelsea, Midtown South, Downtown, and Brooklyn, most often in pre-war buildings that are often cheaper and better suited to layouts preferred by high-growth industries.

“Tech companies are finding characteristics in pre-war buildings that they’re not finding in new office buildings,” says Vishaan Chakrabarti of SHoP Architects and Columbia University’s Center for Urban Real Estate. He notes that 85 percent of new, young companies are in older, pre-war buildings rather than Class A office towers.

Part of the reason is based on economics, but the preference for pre-war also reflects deeper changes in workplace culture: an aversion of the corporate aesthetic, an emphasis on collaboration, and a blurring of the lines between one’s “work life” and “social life.”

Tech and creative firms value collaboration, something that does not happen in sequestered offices on separate floors. Collaboration takes place in shared spaces, co-working stations, and other spaces intended to maximize “casual collisions of the workforce.” Pre-war buildings provide the opportunity to accommodate these arrangements in a way that is often difficult or impossible in corporate towers.

The preference for more collaborative spaces reflects foundational and long-lasting changes in the way people delineate their work lives from their social lives. It also reflects how the boundaries of the “workspace” have expanded to include our homes, our commutes, the café, and the park. It is no longer necessary to stay at one’s desk in order to work.

The workspace is now spilling out of office buildings and into neighboring parks, cafés, and even beer halls. As a result, neighborhoods matter, and young firms want 24-hour neighborhoods where jobs and housing are mixed together with restaurants, bars, and nightlife.

This type of working arrangement started with tech companies, but as Chakrabarti notes, “The reality is that most new young companies are tech companies,” including those in architecture. “I’d consider SHoP a tech company.” The upshot is that these new workplaces will become the new normal.

The move towards shared spaces means that companies need fewer square feet per worker than traditional office layouts. It also means that the single-purpose office district will become increasingly unattractive to newer firms.

 

55 Hudson Yards

55 Hudson Yards, image by Related/Oxford and Visualhouse

Growth in creative and technology firms is outpacing that in finance, and developers of Class A space may be beginning to get the message. As the website for 55 Hudson Yards proclaims, the building will feature “efficient and flexible workspace” for “a work/life integration that enhances employee performance.” 10 Hudson Yards will bridge over the High Line Park with a 60-foot public passageway through the building. One can imagine employees at Coach or L’Oreal bringing their laptops down to the park to collaborate on a new project.

But this space will surely be too expensive for the smaller firms that make up another important pillar of the city’s economy. There is an emerging consensus that the city’s focus must shift to growing the supply of Class B and C office space. The city actually lost 6.2 million square feet of Class B and C space since 2000, even as demand has heated up. The city’s Economic Development Corporation estimates that all the remaining space will be full by 2018. If more space doesn’t become available, the city risks missing out on the next wave of high-growth firms.

Seth Pinsky, former president of the city’s Economic Develoment Corporation and now with RXR Realty, recently said, “There needs to be affordable space for the small companies and start-ups we talk so much about attracting to the city,” noting that up to 15 million square feet of affordable space may be lost in the coming years.

And while some of this growth will happen in Manhattan, policymakers and developers are increasingly focusing on the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront for new job growth. While a developer needs at least $67/square foot to break even on a new development in Midtown South, only $46/square foot is needed in Downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City, according to the EDC.

Domino Redevelopment

Two Trees’ Domino Redevelopment, image by SHoP

Bellwethers include the Watchtower properties, with 1.3 million square feet of space, and the New Domino development’s 500,000 square feet of office space. Smaller conversions like 1000 Dean Street and 29 Ryerson Street, both in Brooklyn, will also be a critical component of any strategy to grow space for startups and creative firms.

The de Blasio administration is also rethinking the role of industrial zones along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront. Planning commission chair Carl Weisbrod recently talked of industrial zones in Long Island City, musing whether “the city can manufacture space by going vertical for industrial use, allowing businesses to expand.” His idea of vertical manufacturing spaces sounds a bit like the type of space favored by tech and creative startups.

The challenge is that Class B and C office space often doesn’t command the rents necessary to cover the cost of adaptive redevelopment, not to mention new construction. “We get the sense that the marketplace is struggling to build new office space for these newer kinds of companies,” says Chakrabarti.

He suggests that the city step in to provide assistance to property owners in older commercial buildings to upgrade their facilities and broadband access. “There needs to be a new type of building, a ‘Class T’ building that gets away from the A, B, C classification.”

Others warn about losing valuable commercial space to residential use. The EDC predicts that another 12 million square feet of Class B and C space will be lost to residential conversions in the next 12 years. There is also talk that the de Blasio administration is considering whether housing should be allowed in the city’s industrial zones.

Jonathan Bowles of the Center for an Urban Future commented on Long Island City’s industrial zones, “I think that we ought to be looking; should that be preserved, tech companies in the next few years may be able to go there—or creative businesses.”

While the city must ensure that construction, transportation, and warehousing firms have a space in the city, there are definitely places where housing and jobs can coexist. Chakrabarti explains, “This isn’t just about housing, it’s about the ecology of people’s lives. We want to start building these communities where people can walk to work or bike to work.”

This was central to the plan at New Domino, and “At Domino, there’s an intent to build the ecology of an entire neighborhood.” (The fact that local politicians would more readily accept a density boost if it came in the form of office space probably didn’t hurt either.)

The city should also consider the live/work approach when reevaluating its plans for Midtown East. Both commercial and residential space should be included in new buildings, with a higher allowable density to ensure that enough new office space is still built. Conversions should not necessarily be discouraged, as more residents and uses would breathe new life into the neighborhood, with the Financial District offering a prime example of resurgent vitality due to similar conditions.

Housing is also a vital component at Hudson Yards, as is the pedestrian environment. The more employees arriving by bike or via The High Line, the more successful the neighborhood will be.

As the nature of the office market changes—preferences, workplace culture, the blurred lines between the office and the surrounding neighborhood—developers and policymakers must react. By focusing on growing startup-friendly buildings—especially in Brooklyn and Queens—the city can work to replace the exodus of manufacturing employment. And by rethinking established office districts as opportunities for additional residential development, the city can meet the needs of tomorrow’s high-growth firms.

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Posted in Architecture | Downtown | Midtown | New York | Office | Residential | SHoP | Uncategorized | Vishaan Chakrabarti

Nordstrom Tower to Become World’s Tallest Residential Building at 1,775 Feet

Nordstrom Tower, 3D Model and architectural diagrams

YIMBY has the latest drawings of Nordstrom Tower, courtesy of an anonymous tipster close to the project. Scoping documents also include the actual height numbers: 225 West 57th Street‘s facade will top-out 1,479′ above street level, while a surprise spire on top will cap the tower at 1,775 feet. Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill are designing the building.

Nordstrom Tower

Diagram of the Nordstrom Tower’s roof and spire, 1,775′ up

New York City’s skyscraper boom is entering unparalleled territory, and 225 West 57th Street could very well represent the crest of the current wave, assuming the tower is financed. The new height details will result in several superlatives: Manhattan will finally retake the ‘tallest roof’ in the United States from Chicago’s Willis Tower, which stands 1,451′, and 225 West 57th Street will become the tallest residential building in the entire world, surpassing both 432 Park Avenue and Mumbai’s World One Tower.

Nordstrom Tower

Nordstrom Tower, south elevation along 57th Street

Structural drawings indicate the curtain wall will be accompanied by steel fins and aluminum louvers, and the result should become a contemporary icon on the Manhattan skyline.  The talented Otie O’Daniel created 3D models of the tower based on the drawings and schematics, which give better insight into the building’s eventual appearance — though the images are not official renderings.

Nordstrom Tower

Nordstrom Tower — rendering by Otie O’Daniel

225 West 57th Street’s design has seen modifications since vague renderings were presented to Landmarks during the debate over the tower’s cantilever, which will rest over the historic Arts Students League. Additional protrusions have been eliminated, and the ultimate design appears to be far sleeker than the original proposal.

Even the cantilever appears to be well-integrated, adding additional heft to the stem of the actual tower, which rises after several setbacks in a style befitting the wedding cake-shape of Manhattan’s traditional skyscrapers. The result is aggressive, and the tower’s ultimate pinnacle will stand over 300 feet taller than any other manmade objects in Midtown, piercing the nascent plateau emerging around the 1,400-foot mark.

The Nordstrom Tower

The Nordstrom Tower

In terms of contemporary comparisons, the design looks to draw from Smith + Gill’s Trump International Tower in Chicago, which is also replete with setbacks and ends in a distinctive but far shorter spire; indeed, it almost looks like a merger between Trump and Willis, though the notched indentations at Nordstrom will be far less intrusive than the setbacks on the former Sears Tower.

Extell’s latest development will have a collection of superlative titles, but its (hopefully) imminent rise underscores the velocity of New York’s general ‘supertall’ boom, which is now the most impressive on the planet. In Midtown alone, other supertalls on the near-horizon include 111 West 57th Street, 432 Park Avenue, 53 West 53rd Street, 3 Hudson Boulevard, 30 Hudson Yards, and 35 Hudson Yards, all of which are already under construction or on their way.

Nordstrom Tower

Nordstrom Tower — rendering by Otie O’Daniel

While the Nordstrom Tower’s roof height will be the tallest in the Western Hemisphere, its pinnacle will fall one foot shy of One World Trade Center’s, which begs the question of whether Extell could simply add a few dozen feet to snatch the crown. Such a feat would not be unprecedented, and what ultimately signals resilience is continued progress; instead of deferring to the “Freedom Tower,” 225 West 57th Street should surpass it, returning the title of Manhattan’s tallest building to Midtown on a more permanent basis.

Completion of 225 West 57th Street is currently slated for 2018, and the most recent permits — which were partially approved on July 1st — reveal a total scope of over 1.2 million square feet.

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Posted in 217 West 57th Street | 225 W57th | 225 West 57th Street | Extell | The Nordstrom Tower

New Details: 3 Hudson Boulevard

3 Hudson Boulevard, image by Neoscape

A tipster sent along the link for 3 Hudson Boulevard’s new website, which has all the details for the soon-to-be supertall, as well as views from the top of the tower. The project’s architect is FXFOWLE, and Moinian is developing; a recent report indicated that the project has secured a ground loan, which means that construction is now imminent.

3 Hudson Boulevard will stand 1,050 feet to its pinnacle, and will contain a mix of uses; tenants have the option of turning the entire building into offices, but given the incredible demand for elevated residences, condominiums on the upper floors would appear to be likely. The tower will total 1.8 million square feet, and the fact sheet has additional specifications.

The tower’s impact on the skyline will be significant, given its location on 11th Avenue, which guarantees permanent visibility from New Jersey — at least pending an eventual redevelopment of the Javits Center. While the largest buildings at Related’s Hudson Yards development will be taller, those towers will be located to the southeast; the skyscraper is directly to the north of 55 Hudson Yards.

3 Hudson Boulevard

View from the 60th floor looking south, image via Moinain

Views will be impressive, and the tower’s perspective over the Midtown skyline will be particularly noteworthy; the build-out of the rest of the neighborhood will enhance the vistas with additional architectural icons.

3 Hudson Boulevard

View from the 60th floor looking east, image via Moinian

Besides its elevated profile, 3 Hudson Boulevard will also contribute to the pedestrian sphere, and the project will front directly onto the new Hudson Boulevard and Park. Renderings reveal the fountains and landscaping that will define the tower’s interaction with the subway station, and the end result will greatly enhance a portion of Manhattan that is currently barren, creating a walkable and pedestrian-friendly environment.

3 Hudson Boulevard

3 Hudson Boulevard — plaza next to 7-line stop, image by Neoscape

Completion of 3 Hudson Boulevard is expected in 2018.

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Posted in 3 Hudson Boulevard | Architecture | FX Fowle | Hudson Yards | Midtown | Midtown West | Moinian | New York | Office | Renderings | Supertall

New Look: 175 and 200 Greenwich Street

200 Greenwich Street -- image by Otie O'Daniel

While the Port Authority continues to stonewall efforts to complete the new World Trade Center, a talented reader has used existing schematics to create new renderings of 175 and 200 Greenwich Street, which illustrate the site’s ultimate appearance and obvious potential.

World Trade Center

200, 175, and 150 Greenwich — image by Otie O’Daniel

175 Greenwich Street will be the first of the two towers to rise, and may do so this year, assuming Silverstein and the Port Authority can come to an agreement. GroupM already has a tentative lease, and the base of the Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners-designed skyscraper has already made significant progress, with the first several floors now clad in glass and metal.

World Trade Center

200 Greenwich, 175 Greenwich, and 150 Greenwich — image by Otie O’Daniel

 

As the renderings show, 175 Greenwich Street will ultimately stand 1,175′ tall, though the supertall will still rank behind both One World Trade Center and 200 Greenwich Street in terms of height.

World Trade Center

200 Greenwich Street’s pinnacle, image by Otie O’Daniel

Completion of Two World Trade — aka 200 Greenwich — remains somewhat more elusive, but the Norman Foster-designed tower will likely become the crown jewel of the site once it is complete. Rumors have circulated that several banks have expressed interest in moving to the tower, but given the building will span 2.53 million square feet, something significantly more concrete will be necessary for the structure to begin rising.

World Trade Center

200 Greenwich, image by Otie O’Daniel

Nevertheless, once construction does begin, 200 Greenwich Street promises to bring positive changes to the vicinity, and its presence on the skyline will be iconic. The tower will stand 1,350′ to its pinnacle, almost putting it on-par with the roof of One World Trade Center.

World Trade Center

200 Greenwich facade, image by Otie O’Daniel

The renderings underscore the importance of reconstruction, especially as the Calatrava-designed Transit Hub comes closer to its opening day; the majority of the World Trade Center is about to be finished, yet the Port Authority’s lack of cooperation may result in a portion of the site remaining an active construction zone into the 2020s.

World Trade Center

Calatrava Hub wings & 175 Greenwich Street, image by Otie O’Daniel

Given the amount of office space coming online in Manhattan, 175 and 200 Greenwich face an uphill battle to secure tenants, but with other portions of the site now opening, commitments that will result in verticality are hopefully imminent. While Related and Brookfield’s projects on the Far West Side are close to Penn Station, their accessibility does not compare to the World Trade Center’s, which will hopefully guarantee the complete build-out of the WTC prior to 2020.

150 & 175 Greenwich and the World Trade Center Transit Hub

150 & 175 Greenwich and the World Trade Center Transit Hub

For now, 175 Greenwich remains stuck at its podium levels, while 200 Greenwich is a mechanical stump; at the very least, foundations for both buildings are complete, which means that once tenants are secured, construction can quickly proceed.

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Posted in 175 Greenwich | 2 World Trade | 200 Greenwich | 3 World Trade | Architecture | Downtown | New York | Office | Renderings | Silverstein | Supertall | World Trade Center

Interview with the Architect: John Cetra

Walker Tower

YIMBY sat down with John Cetra — of husband and wife duo CetraRuddy – to discuss the pair’s recent work in New York City, which is verging on prolific. In addition to the record-setting conversion of Walker Tower, the firm’s current projects include Stella, 12 East 13th Street, 135 East 52nd Street, and a ground-up development at Greenpoint’s 77 Commercial Street. Even with their stellar roster, the most iconic may be yet to come, with the Roseland Tower set to transform the Midtown West skyline, and an as-yet-unannounced skyscraper that will become the tallest building on the Upper East Side, breaking the 1,000′ mark.

YIMBY in bold.

Between Walker and Stella, which project has been more challenging?

What we’re going to do at Stella – we’re recreating the head-dress, which is what the original stone crown resembled. And that’s really interesting because we’re literally going to replicate what was taken down.

Walker Tower is a little different because there was a lot of re-interpretation, since we actually added to the original structure — it was a bit more of a challenge, and it was also the first of the two we worked on. The original architect planned a very ornate structure.

Walker Tower

Walker Tower, northern penthouse view

What’s your favorite thing about the interiors at Walker Tower?

I love the layouts. Wherever you are, you’ve got these views: North, South, East, and West. And fireplaces. Michael really wanted fireplaces — real ones. So we got them to work.

It’s also an amazing opportunity for residential conversion because nothing else can go up nearby; it’s zoned R8, but new buildings in the neighborhood have a height limit of 120 feet. The views are forever. Stella is actually somewhat similar in that regard, as the surrounds there are also restricted.

The thing about Walker Tower is that it’s totally different from every other project I’ve seen, with all the love and care that went into it, all the hardware and stone — literally everything. But Michael wanted the best — we did the opposite of value-engineering. He never said “Oh, we can’t afford that,” — instead, it was “What else can we do to this to make this apartment even more amazing?”

And that’s why it’s the most expensive building in Lower Manhattan!

Yes. And that’s why you get the most amazing apartments, too.

12 East 13th Street

12 East 13th Street — image by CetraRuddy

 

How about 12 East 13th Street? That’s a little more boutique.

Yes — it’s only eight apartments. All of them — except for one — are either duplexes or triplexes. It used to be a parking garage; we are re-inventing its form, and shifting air rights from the back of the lot to the top of the old garage, which will add four stories. The triplexes have amazing staircases, and the upper units will have fantastic views to the north. The building is 75 feet wide, and when you walk into the space, the living and dining rooms take up the entire width. The smallest apartment is 2,700 square feet.

Any details on your Greenpoint project, at 77 Commercial Street? 

Well, we had to go through ULURP. I think we came up with something that really worked well; we had to be very conscious of the development’s relation to the streetscape. It’s a very long building, spanning over 400 feet. The base rises eight stories, and the two towers run 30+ floors above that.

Why not something tall and iconic?

Because of the zoning along the Brooklyn waterfront, which limits the height to around 400 feet. Not that height is necessary for a building to be iconic.

242 West 53rd Street

242 West 53rd Street — image by CetraRuddy

Are you allowed to talk about the Roseland Tower?

It’s going to be about 60 stories, and I think it’s going to be a really beautiful building. The exterior curtain wall is going to be very unique, and it’s going to have some really amazing features. The building changes form as it goes up. It’s going to be dynamic.

Do height constraints bother you?

When you talk about things like contextual zoning, I hate the fact that I can only go up to X height, and not even a little bit more; there’s no flexibility. All of these controls and limitations were set before inclusionary zoning existed, so now you can add 20% more floor area to a building, but the allowed envelope is the same. You’re squeezing more square footage into the same volume, which is how you end up with nine foot ceilings.

CetraRuddy has some fantastic projects that are decidedly contemporary, but you also draw from classic and traditional elements, as seen at Walker and Stella. Which direction do you prefer?

I appreciate old and new. What I love about Walker Tower is that we took this building, interpreted it, and came up with something that isn’t Ralph Walker, but is still decidedly Art Deco.

One Madison was going to be this tall skinny building right next to the Met Life tower — but replicating Met Life would have been a missed opportunity. Context is important. When designing residential buildings, you want to avoid monotony, because once you’ve worked out the perfect floor-plan, recycling it 50 times can be tempting — though it results in a building that’s really boring. What we did at One Madison was create blocks of apartment types, one with wrap-around terraces, and that really lent itself to something unique.

Flatotel Conversion

135 West 52nd Street, image by Williams New York

Your recent slate of work is stellar, and it seems like things are really taking off. Any other major developments we haven’t covered?

We’re working on the former Flatotel at 135 West 52nd Street for Joseph Chetrit, and that building is being totally re-done. And it’s fantastic – that’s the tallest conversion we’ve ever worked on.

The building’s curtain walls never quite – they weren’t doing enough. And also, the exterior has deteriorated so much that it would actually be impossible to keep the tower as-is; the facade was literally falling apart. It’s an interesting issue to address, and by giving the building a new look, we will also improve its energy efficiency.

It’s very interesting taking a building that opened in 1991, and re-doing it; that was a bleak time for architecture. We wanted to do something interesting; it’s a series of boxes stacked one on top of another – sort of like Russian Matryoshka dolls. And so we played off of that and carved into it, adding depth.

Lastly, I hear there may be a supertall you are designing on the Upper East Side?

That is going to be a very innovative building — it’s going to be exciting.

And it’s going to be around 1,000 feet tall, yes?

Around.

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Posted in 12 East 13th Street | 212 West 18th Street | 221 West 17th Street | 435 West 50th Street | 77 Commercial Street | Architecture | CetraRuddy | Flatotel Conversion | Midtown | New York | Residential | Stella Tower | Supertall | Walker Tower

New Details: One Vanderbilt Vies for Title of Midtown’s Tallest

One Vanderbilt rendering, image by Kohn Pedersen Fox via Crain's New York

While the Midtown East re-zoning awaits additional tweaking and ultimate passage, plans are already proceeding for SL Green’s new tower at One Vanderbilt, which will be built under a special permit. Kohn Pedersen Fox is designing the 67-story building, and the project’s draft environmental impact statement contains tentative new specifics regarding its total size.

Per illustrations, One Vanderbilt’s rooftop will measure 1,350 feet, while its ultimate pinnacle looks to stand approximately 1,450′ above 42nd Street; the latter number would place the building as the second tallest structure in New York City, behind One World Trade Center. Pending adjustments, an additional foot would put the skyscraper ahead of Chicago’s Willis Tower, making it the second-tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

One Vanderbilt

One Vanderbilt — image via the draft EIS

The structure’s roof height of 1,350′ will be slightly less significant, ranking below three of the 57th Street supertalls, as well as One and Two World Trade Center. Nevertheless, the building will become a neighborhood landmark, looming over the much-bemoaned MetLife tower. Unlike its monolithic neighbor, One Vanderbilt’s upper floors will be characterized by a series of setbacks, and the parapet recalls pre-war Manhattan, when the city was dominated by spires.

On lower levels, the tower’s plan includes both restaurants and retail space; SL Green will also dramatically improve conditions on Vanderbilt Avenue, which will soon become a pedestrian gateway into the revitalized Midtown East. KPF’s latest icon will also have direct subway access.

One Vanderbilt

One Vanderbilt — image via the draft EIS

In terms of specifics, One Vanderbilt will have 1.079 million square feet of office space, 246,000 square feet reserved for trading floors, 53,000 square feet of retail, 27,000 square feet for restaurants, and 55,000 square feet dedicated to rooftop amenities, including an observation deck. The development’s total scope includes another 343,500 square feet of unusable space, for a total volume of 1.8 million square feet, and an FAR of 30.

One Vanderbilt

One Vanderbilt’s base, image via KPF/Crain’s

The potential deck at One Vanderbilt would offer a new perspective on the skyline to the general public, given the site’s distance from both the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building’s 102nd floor. Including such a feature will further enhance the tower’s potentially iconic status.

As Midtown’s built environment finally catches up with 21st-century demands, One Vanderbilt will likely be joined by other ‘supertall’ buildings. Demand for new development in the surrounding neighborhood is extreme, and given the prices people are willing to pay for premium office and residential space, future structures will likely push even taller, especially if the re-zoning allows for significant residential density.

De Blasio’s push for more affordable housing must come with a similar thrust to reduce constraints on market-rate development, which is the housing most New Yorkers inhabit. In its current state, ‘affordable housing’ is a misnomer, and securing such a unit is like winning the lottery; 50,000 New Yorkers applied for 124 apartments at one such development in Harlem.

Adding the potential for significant residential development to the Midtown East re-zoning would create new living options for the neighborhood’s office workers, while also transforming the area from a relatively sterile business district into a thriving hub where people can both live and work. Plans for One Vanderbilt are proceeding without thought for this potential, though the KPF-designed building will still enhance the pedestrian sphere and the skyline, maximizing its built envelope.

One Vanderbilt

One Vanderbilt — image via the draft EIS

No formal completion date has been announced — and the site’s existing structures must still be demolished – but given the recent news that SL Green is in talks with TD Bank as a potential anchor tenant, a 2020 completion date would appear feasible.

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Posted in Architecture | Kohn Pedersen Fox | Midtown | Midtown East | New York | Office | One Vanderbilt | SL Green | Supertall | Zoning

Construction Update: 432 Park Avenue Passes the 1,000′ Mark

432 Park Avenue

432 Park Avenue has continued its rapid ascent, and the Vinoly-designed tower now stands over 1,000 feet tall; as of this week, the building’s core is at the 68th floor, while the perimeter walls are at 66. That puts its height at 1,054′, which is taller than any rooftop north of the Empire State Building.

432 Park Avenue

432 Park Avenue

CIM and Macklowe are developing the building, which has nearly 350 feet to go before topping-out; 432 Park Avenue will eventually total 1,397′, which will put its roof above One World Trade Center’s. Since last month’s update, the structure has risen nearly 100 feet, pushing it above the Midtown plateau.

432 Park Avenue

432 Park Avenue

432 Park’s impact on the skyline is just now becoming obvious, and it dominates the vicinity, topping both Citigroup and Bloomberg Tower by a significant margin. Already visible from parts of New Jersey and Long Island, its prominence will continue to grow, and even One57 will soon look diminutive compared to Vinoly’s vision in concrete.

Traversing the 1,000′ milestone is significant as so few buildings in New York have broken the invisible barrier, though that is about to change. While One57 pierces just above the mark — and was the first residential tower to do so — 432 Park Avenue will shatter it. One year from now, 217 West 57th Street and 111 West 57th Street will also be rising, eventually joining CIM’s supertower at the height of the skyline.

432 Park Avenue

432 Park Avenue

Besides the superstructure’s continued ascent, work has also made headway on the two retail components, which promise to enhance both Park Avenue and 57th Street. 432 Park Avenue will be completed in 2015, and sales have already been impressive; of the remaining units, a penthouse on the 92nd floor is currently listed for $79.5 million

432 Park Avenue

Park Avenue Retail

 

432 Park Avenue

57th Street Retail

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Posted in 432 Park Avenue | 57th street | Architecture | CIM | Construction Update | Macklowe | Midtown | Midtown East | New York | Residential | Supertall | Vinoly

Construction Update: 111 West 57th Street

Yesterday's excavation progress at 111 West 57th Street, photo by Andrew McKeon

Excavation is finally beginning at 111 West 57th Street, where on-site machinery had previously been sitting idle. Digging is already making quick progress, and a comparison of yesterday’s construction shot with a photo from one week earlier reveals that earth underneath the site is slowly shrinking away. JDS and Property Markets Group are the developers, and SHoP is the architect.

111 West 57th Street

111 West 57th Street, as of one week ago (5/8/2014)

Fresh progress at The Steinway Tower means that work has now begun at all major ‘supertall’ sites on 57th Street. Excavation is further along on western rivals at 217 West 57th Street and 220 Central Park South, but the smaller scope of initial work at 111 West 57th Street — given the project’s confines — could mean that all three developments begin rising out of the ground simultaneously, either late this year or in early 2015.

111 West 57th Street

111 West 57th Street, image via SHoP

New signage is also up at the site, indicating that construction is expected to be complete by June of 2017. 111 West 57th Street will eventually stand nearly 1,400 feet to its pinnacle, and contain approximately 80 residences.

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Posted in 111 West 57th Street | Architecture | Construction Update | JDS Development | Michael Stern | Midtown | New York | Property Markets Group | Residential | SHoP | Supertall

Construction Update: 432 Park Avenue

432 Park Avenue

432 Park Avenue continues its rapid climb, and the tower continues to climb the ranks of New York City’s tallest buildings; as of today’s update, the core stands 961 feet above street level, while the perimeter forms are 930 feet tall. Those numbers make Vinoly’s building the 8th tallest structure in Manhattan, just shorter than 150 Greenwich Street, and slightly taller than 70 Pine Street.

432 Park Avenue

432 Park Avenue

The building — which CIM and Macklowe are developing — will soon stand 1,397 feet to its pinnacle. While sales have been swift, details on the uppermost penthouse residences have been slow to arrive; Curbed had a recent reveal for a $79.5 million unit that will occupy the entire 92nd floor.

432 Park Avenue

432 Park Avenue

While progress at 432 Park Avenue may slow down imminently — as the tower traverses another set of relatively complicated mechanical floors — the building’s overall rise has been very rapid, and the ‘supertall’ should top-out by the end of 2014, with completion expected by 2015.

432 Park Avenue

432 Park Avenue

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Posted in 432 Park Avenue | 440 Park Avenue | 57th street | Architecture | CIM | Construction Update | Macklowe | Midtown | Midtown East | New York | Residential | Supertall | Vinoly

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