Sky High & the Logic of Luxury
The Skyscraper Museum
39 Battery Place
New York, NY
Through April 19, 2014
For Manhattan architecture, the sky has always been the limit. The current trend in super-slender, luxury high-rise residential buildings has excited a niche clientele and captured the attention of skyscraper architects. This October, The Skyscraper Museum explores these ultra slim constructions, from their contextual rise to the modern engineering technologies that have rendered them possible.
Next Tuesday, the nearly 850-foot-tall Shenzhen Stock Exchange Building will be inaugurated as the new head of capitalist trading in Hong Kong. OMA, Rem Koolhaas’ architectural firm, was commissioned to design and construct the soaring structure in 2006. After nearly $500 million in expenditures, according to reports by the Wall Street Journal blog, the square-form skyscraper with a surprising floating base, is complete.
Defying the standards of conventional landscaping, living walls take vegetated ground cover to the vertical extreme. For the past 30 years, French botanist and green enthusiast Patrick Blanc has made a quantum leap forward in the art of gardening by designing and building these living walls all over the globe. Blanc’s latest project—One Central Park Tower—is in Sydney, Australia, where nature’s tranquil features join forces with dynamic city life. The project is a collaborative effort between Blanc and Jean Nouvel. When completed, the major mixed-use urban renewal housing plan will boast the world’s tallest vertical garden.
Norman Foster is expected to design a new skyscraper in downtown Philadelphia, according to sources cited by the Philly Inquirer. Media company Comcast has outgrown its current home in the city’s tallest building—Robert A.M. Stern‘s 975-foot-tall Comcast Center. Details of the planned tower are being guarded, but architecture critic Inga Saffron reported that Comcast is exploring plans to build a “vertical campus” including several new towers, potentially beginning with a new structure on a 1.5-acre vacant lot at the corner of 18th and Arch streets (indicated above). The site was previously approved for a 1,500-foot-tall tower in 2008 but Saffron said the new tower would likely be shorter. Developer John Gattuso of Liberty Property Trust told the Inquirer, “The tower will be as big as it needs to be.”
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) announced last week it would design a new headquarters for Dubai-based Mashreq Bank. The 32-story tower is “a quiet sculptural form within Dubai’s skyline,” SOM Design Director Ross Wimer said in a statement. Its L-shaped floor plate is cantilevered around an empty volume between the building’s eight-story podium and its top levels.
The building’s massing shields that courtyard from solar gain, while opening up views to Sheikh Zayed Road and the Burj Khalifa to the east. Executive offices occupy the top two floors, where the square floorplate resumes, with Mashreq’s Board Room suspended from an interior opening at the middle.
In 2005, the doors to the New South China Mall first opened, promising a new age of Chinese consumerism and signaling the rise of the middle class. Located outside Dongguan, an industrial city located in the rapidly-growing Pearl River Delta with a population comparable to New York’s, the nearly 10 million-square-foot mall was the largest in the world in terms of leasable space. The developer, Chinese instant noodle tycoon Alex Hu, expected 100,000 daily shoppers, but the crash-strapped factory workers who populate the nearby metropolis never bothered to make the 2.5-hour trek to the overgrown shopping center, and so 8 years later 99 percent of the mall’s 2,350 retail outlets are still vacant. In the wake of this failure, a new developer, the Dongguan Minying Real Estate Development Company, has hired California-based architecture firms 5+Design and SWA to design yet another mega-sized mall in the rapidly growing city, this time with a few important adjustments that the team hopes will make their project a success.
Rafael Viñoly Architects has unveiled plans for a new 70-story residential tower located just a small block from the World Trade Center at 22 Thames Street. The developers are looking to replace the 10-story, former American Stock Exchange building with an 870-foot skyscraper. Fisher Brothers, who bought the site for $87.5 million in 2012, asked Rafael Viñoly to design the building and initial plans were presented to members of Community Board 1 last week, where Curbed and the Tribeca Tribune snapped photos of Viñoly’s rendering. The glass building would include space for 450 apartments and commercial use on the ground floor.
International architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) has several projects underway, such as One Hudson Yards and a new master plan for New York City’s Port Authority. Most recently, in a reinvention of spaces, KPF has submitted plans to build 11 floors on top of Richard Seifert’s 1972 30-story King’s Reach Tower, which has been renamed South Bank Tower. Located on London’s South Bank, the tower will be transformed into a mixed-use building consisting of 191 high-rise luxury apartments.
The winners of eVolo magazine’s 7th Skyscraper Competition have been announced! This year the publication, which has hosted the prestigious competition since 2006, received 625 submissions from 83 different countries, but only 3 of the most thought-provoking projects were selected as the winners. From floating (on-water and in-midair) skyscrapers to morphing structures, each of these futuristic designs not only resembles something out of a sci-fi film, but more importantly, radically defies our understanding of vertical architecture, creatively explores new technologies, and proposes solutions for a more sustainable urban future.
After a nearly five-year delay, a $350 million mixed-use development in Jersey City is slated to break ground in the next few months. The Real Deal reports that the Jersey City Municipal Council and Planning Board approved plans back in December. Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman + Associates Architects will design the two 50-story towers at 70 and 90 Columbus Street. The 1.2 million-square-foot development, a joint venture by Ironstate Development and Panepinto Properties, will consist of a 150-room hotel and approximately 1,000 rental apartments in addition to retail space.
After a few administrative hurdles and several packed community meetings that aired downtown residents’ concerns, Chicago’s Wolf Point is poised to turn perhaps the most prominently underdeveloped piece of land in Chicago into a billion-dollar suite of skyscrapers along the Chicago River.
A proposed 57-story residential tower designed by SOM’s Roger Duffy at the corner of Manhattan’s East 57th Street and 2nd Avenue is seeing new life after laying low through the recession. The Observer reported today that the 250 East 57th project, announced in 2006, will begin construction this year now that developer World Wide Group has filed new construction papers with the city and began clearing the site.
AN previously reported how the project is a partnership with the New York City School Construction Authority to extract the air-rights value beneath the city’s school properties. In this case, developers of 250 East 57th paid the Department of Education $325 million for a site lease and agreed to rebuild P.S. 59 adjacent to the tower’s site, including roof terraces and a large astroturf play area. Roger Duffy told AN at the time, “A lot of school sites in New York remain underdeveloped in terms of FAR (floor-area ratio).” The school opened in September 2012.