What Could Have Been: Norman Foster & Rogers Stirk Harbour’s Submissions for Nordstrom Tower, 217 West 57th Street

Future 57th Street skylineFuture 57th Street skyline

With formwork about to rise above ground level at Nordstrom Tower, the Smith + Gill-designed supertall’s plans seem to be finalized, pending possible adjustments at the very top. But other renderings for Extell’s site were created by several firms during the RFP process, and we now have images of proposals by Foster + Partners and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. While they will remain unbuilt, both versions of the building offer fantastical takes on the future of Midtown in their own right.

The actual tower will stand 1,522 feet and 94 floors to its rooftop parapet (and a probable 1,795′ to its spire). The losing proposals appear to have been scaled to similar proportions, though their form is significantly different from what Smith + Gill designed.

Foster's 217 West 57th Street/Nordstrom Tower

Foster’s 217 West 57th Street/Nordstrom Tower

Foster’s plan would have been ultra-contemporary, offering a trident-like take on the classic New York supertall, with the middle prong topped by the spire.

Foster's 217 West 57th Street/Nordstrom Tower

Foster’s 217 West 57th Street/Nordstrom Tower

It seems the option of cantilevering over the Arts Students League was not considered for this proposal, as the building ascends straight upwards from its base, without the now-approved overhang that starts about 300 feet above street level.

Rogers' 217 West 57th Street/Nordstrom Tower

Rogers’ 217 West 57th Street/Nordstrom Tower

The design by Rogers Stirk + Harbour appears to allude to Extell’s One57 just a block away, though in this instance, it translates into a far larger format. The firm’s typical multi-colored window treatments give the facade variety (and complete the likeness to the multi-hued One57, which was supposed to look like a waterfall). The structure ends in three staggered rooftops, all angled in different directions, and in contrast to the other versions, the spire is covered in telecommunications equipment, suggesting there was (or still may be) some functional use for the ornament.

Nordstrom Tower

Nordstrom Tower, possible change of plans

Finally, we have another image from a tipster that may or may not be accurate. It depicts the Nordstrom Tower’s Smith + Gill design, but with a parapet at 1,550′ above street level, and no spire. Given that a spire has apparently been an integral part of the design process until this point, we think the plans may be outdated, but the source states the diagram is recent.

Completion is currently expected in 2018, and if Extell remains mum (as they did when asked for comment regarding the above) we may not know the final specifics regarding the spire until it appears on top.

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