Hudson Yards isn’t the only megaproject on Manhattan’s far west side. Developer Brookfield Properties has released a new set of renderings and a fly-through video of what the area will look like once its Manhattan West development is complete. Once complete, the seven-million-square-foot “neighborhood” will link Hudson Yards on the far west side with Penn Station’s renovated Moynihan Train Hall. Hemmed between Ninth and Tenth Avenues and 31st to 33rd Streets, Manhattan West will hold offices, retail, hotels, and residential units, with most of the buildings featuring sleek glass facades. REX’s recent retrofit of 5 Manhattan West; the rising 69 stories of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s (SOM) One Manhattan West office tower; SLCE’s recently completed The Eugene, a 62-story residential tower and the tallest of its type in Midtown Manhattan; SOM’s Two Manhattan West, a 59-story office tower which recently filed DOB permits and the 13-story “The Loft” are all on track to finish construction by either 2019 or 2020. Fewer details have been released about the more mysterious Four Manhattan West, which will be a 30-story boutique hotel with condo units. A 60,000-square-foot public plaza designed by James Corner Field Operations and 200,000 square feet of ground floor shops and restaurants will round out the public amenities. Now, Brookfield has released a flythrough of the project, starting at a revitalized Empire Station (the forthcoming rebrand of the new Penn Station complex) with stops along each of the campus’s towers. Watch the video below: Brookfield has also created a VR walkthrough of the entire development, including interior views from each of the office towers, as well as street-level shots. Construction on the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall is ongoing, and it may be a number of years before the area comes into its own. That doesn’t seem to be a hurdle for Amazon (who are already renting space in 5 Manhattan West), and reps from the tech giant will soon visit New York to scout out prospective HQ2 office space on the far west side.
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In a city as old as Philadelphia, it says a lot when a neighborhood is deemed of particular historical significance by the city's citizens. One such stretch in the City of Brotherly Love is Jewelers Row, a block-long concentration of retailers known for being the nation's oldest (and second-largest) diamond district. So when Philly 'burb–based developer Toll Brothers proposed a 29-story residential tower that would require demolishing a handful of Sansom Street buildings, it's no surprise that some in the city fought back. Now, after the latest version of the proposed project was unveiled by SLCE Architects for Toll Brothers, Pulitzer Prize–winning Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron is weighing in on the tower's latest iteration, deriding the building as an "architectural zombie." But that's not the only target of her criticism; Saffron also places some of the blame for its blandness on the city's Civic Design Board. The most recent renderings show an anodyne 24-story glass tower with a series of simple setbacks rising above the brick-lined street. Beyond the incongruity of the design, Saffron calls out the project as a missed opportunity for architectural expression. She places the blame not only on SLCE and Toll Brothers, but also on the city's Civic Design Board, which was founded in 2011 ostensibly to raise the city's level of architectural design by vetting all large projects. The problem, she suggests, is that the board can't outright veto a poor building, leaving developers the ability to apply again and again with simple concessions rather than innovative reimagining. In the case of the Jewelers Row project, earlier versions of the plan included the use of brick to reference the surrounding buildings, an idea that was scrapped after community feedback that the design overwhelmed the neighborhood. A subsequent plan showed an all-glass face with a pleated crown, but a row of third-floor verandas proved too controversial, leading to their removal a month later in the most recent iteration. "That’s how public relations works," Saffron says of the process, "not architectural design." And that, she argues, is the problem.
Moscow–based firm Meganom has just gained approval for the tallest project by a Russian firm in the U.S., a 1,001–foot residential supertall at 262 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) gave the go-ahead for the tower on Tuesday, just over a year after the application was filed. The developer behind the project is Boris Kuzinez of New York–based firm Five Points Development. Kuzinez has spent $102 million already on site preparations, but is still seeking a construction loan for the tower itself. The architect of record is SLCE Architects. Consulting for the exterior wall has been conducted with Front Inc., with facade maintenance by Entek Engineering. Renderings for the skyscraper show a lean silhouette of a building punctuated by two observation decks. According to the designer, the apartment units, each measuring approximately 47 by 52 feet, will be anchored to an aluminum-clad column on the western side like shelves. All of the building's lift and mechanical systems will also be housed within this volume, allowing the residential space to be open and column-free. 41 apartments will be available in total, with floor-to-ceiling windows on the northern and southern facades. The design also accommodates customization: potential residents will be able to choose from a "library" of different layouts, with the option of purchasing full and multiple floors as well as portions of levels according to their needs. The building's top floor features a tall open space that offers 180-degree views to the north and south of Manhattan. According to the firm's website, the top observation deck can be reserved for private events by the building's residents. Triple-glazed windows facing north and south will stabilize the building's heating and cooling systems. Smaller, porthole-shaped windows will dot the building's eastern side. According to The Real Deal, a triplex apartment within the building could be worth as much as $75 million. Two structures on the site have already been demolished to make way for construction. A third structure at 260 Fifth Avenue will be preserved as part of the tower's base. There is no set timeline for construction. This is Meganom's first project in the U.S.
Work is continuing apace on Álvaro Siza's first U.S. project at West 56th Street and 11th Avenue, on the westernmost edge of Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. The 35-story luxury tower is slated to rise 400 feet, and it almost goes without saying that the 80 residences within are for the ultra-wealthy. Occupants will be able to take in Hudson River views from a landscaped roof garden and a sun deck, as well as from private terraces attached to select apartments. Inside, there will be a fitness center, as well as an entertainment space, and a children’s play area. Back in January 2016, The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) got an exclusive first look at the project, only the second tower by the Pritzker Prize–winning Portuguese architect and his first building in the U.S.. Comparing this building to Siza’s 500-foot-plus apartment building in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, which features a deco-like wedding cake top, AN Senior Editor Matt Shaw called 611 West 56th Street “more subtle and refined, akin to Siza’s early structures like the Boa Nova Tea House and Piscinas de Marés in Portugal,” with a “subdued” crown that tops a proportional gridded base. Plans for the project were filed in April of last year. Interior designers Michael Gabellini and Kimberly Sheppard (founding principals of Gabellini Sheppard) are working with Siza on the building’s interior spaces, which total more than 173,000 square feet. New York’s SLCE Architects is the architect-of-record for the project.