Renderings for a visionary concept are up on architecture firm MA2‘s Facebook page, depicting a new office tower near South Street Seaport. While the scheme will probably never happen, the plan presents an interesting opportunity for discourse on what should and should not be built in the neighborhood, and also offers a window into the future of skyscraper design.
The project’s description notes it was conceived as “a product of preserving angles within a complex plane grid, which has been interfered by a Mobius geometric transformation. By manipulating a two-dimensional grid using asymptotic developments, it generates a series of automorphing patterns and higher dimensional structures.”
Accordingly, the design for the building is slightly insane, but in a good way; instead of basic forms and repetitive angles, the concept for ‘Conformal Tectonics’ offers a unique take on skyscraper design, rejecting paradigms that have long dominated architecture. While Zaha Hadid’s work would appear to be a partial inspiration, MA2’s scheme has a more fluid feel than most contemporary buildings, as the tower seems to gyrate upwards towards its ultimate pinnacle — almost like a futuristic version of 50 West Street.
Beyond the geometry behind the design, the scheme itself presents an opportunity for considering the future of high-rise architecture in the Seaport’s vicinity. The most recent building to rise near South Street Seaport is 161 Front Street, which is the complete opposite of how structures should look in 21st Century Manhattan, and ‘Conformal Tectonics’ is a major step in the right direction.
While the design was not intended for realization, it compares favorably to other unbuilt schemes in the Seaport’s vicinity, including old plans for 151 Maiden Lane, and both the Calatrava and Morali designs for 80 South Street — though the latter project’s conceptions were still forward-thinking.
As New York City continues to grow, a portion of new construction will continue to push the boundaries of design; these kinds of projects may not always be contextual, but thinking outside the box is how new landmarks, icons, and symbols are created. Even the Chrysler Building and the Empire State were, at one time, unprecedented examples of ‘contemporary’ architecture — and as Manhattan evolves, encouraging ground-breaking design, like the scheme for ‘Conformal Tectonics,’ should be a priority.
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