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Line Gang
Aqua Tower architect to make New York debut in booming meatpacking district.
Rendering of Jeanne Gang's proposed tower along New York's High Line.
Courtesy Studio Gang

Jeanne Gang will soon join the likes of Neil Denari, Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Ennead, and Shigeru Ban with a new project near the High Line in New York City. The roughly 180,000-square-foot office tower will rise along 10th Avenue between 13th and 14th streets, pending city approval.

The project will be Chicago-based Studio Gang’s New York debut, and its atypical form is a novel take on New York’s zoning. “We looked at what we could build as of right and realized that it would block out light, air, and views from the High Line,” principal Jeanne Gang told AN.  Gang pointed out that the High Line creates the unusual urban condition of having a much-loved public space mid-block. “So we rearranged the building’s mass so that the tallest part to face 10th Avenue,” she said.

Daylight studies show how sunlight will reach the High Line.

In addition to pulling the building to the lot-line along 10th Avenue, Studio Gang’s design calls for angled notches, slicing off wedge-shaped portions of the tower, allowing river views and minimizing shadows on the elevated park. The design for the building has a glass skin, which will be smooth on the vertical portions and faceted in the cutaways. “The faceted edge emphasizes what I call the ‘solar carving,”’ she said. “The serrated-edge demarcates the special character of these spaces.”

For Gang the project is an opportunity to respond to and critique New York’s building and planning standards. “We’re using the principal of the zoning envelope, but we’re recognizing the exceptional condition that the High Line creates,” she said.  “It’s an interior block public space. How do you respond to that?” The project draws on research her firm conducted for the un-built Solstice Tower in Hyde Park, which employed an top-heavy, angled facade to mitigate heat gain on the southern exposure in the summer while increasing it in the winter.

Study models show variations in the facade.

William Gottlieb Real Estate is developing the project. It will replace an empty meatpacking plant on the site, and will include ground level retail. “They really want to defer to the fundamental asset of the High Line,” she said, noting that other developers and architects have built over the park. “This is the opposite approach.” The project is located outside the Gansevoort Market Historic District, so it is not dependent on approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Gang’s unconventional take on city zoning is currently being filed with New York’s Board of Standards and Appeals. The building is targeted for completion in 2015.

Alan G. Brake