April 12, 2018

The Tale of Starchitects and "Supertalls" in New York City

As Curbed.com describes it there is a push for “supertalls” in New York City, those buildings that exceed the 984 foot height limit. As they note “These soaring towers aren’t always popular—many have actively fought against the buildings sprouting along 57th Street and Central Park South, worried that they’ll cause shadowing over the storied park—but it’s hard to argue against their status as marvels of engineering.”
And in the “if it is tall it has to be great” category,  “many of the city’s most high-profile developments, from One World Trade Center to Central Park Tower, all exceed the 984-foot limit that takes a building from merely tall to supertall. (Alas, architects here have yet to design a building that would rocket into the megatall—above 1,968 feet—category.)” Curbed.com has even developed a list of where those supertall buildings are located.
Starchitect Bjarke Ingels is designing “the  Spiral” near the Hudson Yards, and of course it is a supertall. It will be 1,032 feet high and 65 stories. “In typical Bjarke Ingels fashion, the building will have an atypical design: Its glass facade will be punctuated by a series of vertical gardens, which will wrap around the building, giving it that distinctive twisting appearance (hence the name).”
Bjarke Ingels is also behind the  Twisting Buildings by the High Line  with deep articulated windows. If you look at the design of the High Line Towers next to Ingel’s Vancouver House, you can see how his signature design looks kind of like a wrung out sponge. As one well-respected urban designer in Vancouver observed there is a fondness for looking at architecture as design, but rarely do we ask the occupants what that internal spaces are like to live in. Are the windows too recessed to provide good light? Is it comfortable and inviting for residents and passersby on the ground plane? It is worth reading the comments posted on the  “Spiral” on Curbed.com.  As one commenter dryly noted  on the idea of a green planted articulated zigzag around the building “that garden will never make it.

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