One doesnât need to visit New York City in order to understand that the cityâs skyline is undergoing drastic change, both within andâincreasinglyâoutside of Manhattan.
In an attempt to better understand the micro- and macro-forces at play shaping the cityâs skyline, weâre taking a look at three recent distinctive tower projects designed by SHoP Architects in partnership with JDS Development, Property Markets Group and Spruce Capital Partners, including: 111 West 57th, a spindly supertall under construction on Billionaireâs Row; the American Copper Buildings, two metallic skyscrapers overlooking the FDR expressway; and 9 DeKalb, a forthcoming supertall tower set to become Brooklynâs tallest building.
Together, along with a forthcoming set of acrobatic high-rises slated for the Brooklyn waterfront that SHoP has also had a hand in crafting, the featured buildings highlight several of the dynamic conversations taking shape within the realm of skyscraper design, as issues of extreme height, massing, historic preservation, and environmental performance play out across the cityâs (and the worldâs) evolving skylines.
A Skyline in Flux
New York Cityâs constantly growing skyline has reached new and dazzling heights during the second decade of the 21st Century.
The steady stream of neck-straining renderings for the row of supertall towers on the southern edge of Central Park, for example, has created what some have called an âaccidental skylineâ shaped in part by tricky real estate maneuvers, the exploitation of zoning codes, and piles of cash that nearly rival the heights of the towers themselves. On Manhattanâs western edge, the Emerald City-like Hudson Yards development has sprung up over the last half-decade as an equally controversial set of sky-piercing buildings, their slanting, chiseled forms broadcasting ostentatious luxury, corporate retro-futurism, and Americaâs frothy economy all at once. The ever-multiplying clusters of residential and office towers taking shape in downtown and northern Brooklyn, in addition, have extended western outposts of the cityâs world-famous skyline, while the relatively staid high-rises in Long Island City, Queens, as well as those located across the Hudson River in Jersey City and Hoboken, indicate that New Yorkâs decade-long post-recession growth spurt is reshaping the entire region rather than merely a few choice neighborhoods.
As incredibly tall buildings have advanced and proliferated across the New York area, the conventions of skyscraper design have been somewhat upended. Monolithic glass curtain walls are becoming less common in new proposals, for example, as designers work to incorporate concerns over environmental performance and facade modulation into their work. At the same time, street-level design has grown more rich and people-friendly over the years, with landscaped plazas and pedestrian retail designs back en vogue, as well. Simultaneously, as land-use and zoning regulations have been massaged into submission via a proliferation of re-zoning initiatives and clever lot arrangements, and as a result, towers have sprung up that dive into existing historic structures, hang daintily over them, or land neatly right beside them, challenging the conventions of historic preservation thinking, both on the street and across the sky.
All told, New York Cityâs skyline, always shaped by the interlocking considerations of aesthetics, finance, and gravity, is alive and growing.
SHoP is Transforming the Skyscraper
Central to this transformation have been the efforts of SHoP Architects, an architecture firm founded in 1996 and based out of Manhattanâs Woolworth Buildingâa tower that itself stood as the tallest in the city for nearly two decades after being built. In recent years, the firm has undertaken an increasingly aggressive building spree across New York City (as well as regionally and across the globe) that is beginning to give form to a collection of unique and forward-looking skyscrapers. The office, headed by a multi-partner team with experience in design, real estate, and other building endeavors, works methodically to iterate its way toward convention-defying works of architecture, often partnering directly with developers and builders to craft these dramatic and provocative buildings. Such is the case for the collection of projects showcase