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Never Too Tall or Too Thin

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111 West 57th Street (image courtesy of JDS Development); opposite page: 432 Park Avenue

Supertalls are redefining the 57th Street skyline.

New York City (NYC) is undergoing a skyscraper boom the likes of which it has never seen before, and the number of towers taller than 1,000 ft. is increasing every year. But changes at the very top will be, by far, the most dramatic. Well over a dozen structures will soon cross the 1,000-ft. threshold, but only a few will approach 1,500 ft. These are the towers that will characterize the peaks of NYC’s future skyline.

432 Park Avenue is the most notable addition to the skyline since the rise of One World Trade Center (One WTC), from which it nabbed the title of NYC’s tallest building (at least in terms of roof height). As of January, it stood 1,397 ft. above the streets of Midtown Manhattan. It was designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, and exercises a concrete but temporary rule over the surrounding plateau of skyscrapers — much like the city’s previous “tallest residential” titleholder, One57, though by a significantly wider margin. But, alas, the skyscraper forest that sprawls underneath 432 Park’s dominion will soon be punctuated by additional supertowers of even greater heights, all within a few surrounding blocks. 

Perhaps the most marvelous of these is 111 West 57th Street, which will rise out of the historic Steinway Building’s old backyard. The building’s widest side will measure approximately 60 ft. in length, while it will stand 1,421 ft. tall. Those marveling at the slenderness of 432 Park will be even more amazed by the dimensions of its new — and slightly taller — neighbor, which will be far skinnier.

Designed by SHoP Architects and developed by JDS Development and Property Markets Group, the willowy vision will be clad in terracotta tiles and laced with ribbons of bronze, offering a modern interpretation on classic materials that have long defined the NYC skyline. At its roof, the building will be crowned by glass and metal, offering another contrast to its austere and cast-concrete Park Avenue sibling.

Designed by SHoP Architects and developed by JDS Development and Property Markets Group, the willowy vision [at 111 West 57th Street] will be clad in terracotta tiles and laced with ribbons of bronze, offering a modern interpretation on classic materials that have long defined the NYC skyline.

While the super-thin and ultra-luxury residential towers at 432 Park and 111 West 57th will scrape similar heights, it is the future Nordstrom Tower at 217 West 57th Street that will claim the crown for all of Midtown. Developer Extell has not officially revealed its design, but drawings indicate a spire height of 1,775 ft. and a roof height coming in just shy of 1,500 ft. The latter number means it will become the tallest building in North America, topping even the Willis Tower in Chicago, though the spire leaves its ultimate pinnacle just a few feet shy of the mast atop One WTC. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is designing.

At its base, the Nordstrom Tower will have its namesake Seattle department store’s NYC flagship, spanning nearly 200,000 sq. ft. Of course, the residential portion is what pushes the tower to its ultimate pinnacle. 

Perhaps more challenging than the height of 217 West 57th Street is the site’s configuration, as it will cantilever over a neighboring low-rise structure. The tower will protrude from the mixed-use lower levels approximately 300 ft. above street level, and while it won’t be visible on the overall skyline, developers are now constructing buildings one on top of the other, showing just how crunched NYC is for land.

432 Park Avenue should wrap up construction this year, while foundation work is underway on both 111 and 217 West 57th Street. The former is expected to open in 2017, while the latter will be finished in 2018.

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