New York City's waterfront Hudson Yards development is a big deal—literally. The largest private real estate development in the history of the United States, the project comprises 17 million square feet of commercial and residential space and 14 acres of public open space. Hudson Yards is having "a catalytic effect in terms of kicking off an entire new neighborhood," said Related Companies' Michael Samuelian. (Related and Oxford Properties Group have partnered with a number of high-profile architecture firms to design and build the project.) "We don't just focus on a building, but on the relationships between buildings—the spaces between the buildings themselves are just as important." Samuelian and KPF's William Pedersen, whose firm is designing three skyscrapers for Hudson Yards, will deliver up-to-date information on the work in progress at next month's Facades+NYC conference. Hudson Yards promises to reshape the city on multiple scales. On the larger end, "the development of Hudson Yards fills a void in Manhattan's fabric which has prevented the city from having a dialogue with the Hudson River," explained Pedersen. Related commissioned a wide slate of architects "to purposely create variety and juxtaposition, which is the dominant characteristic of Manhattan's iconic skyline," he said. As important as Hudson Yards' impact on New York City's skyline, said Samuelian, is its capacity to create a welcoming streetscape. "We put considerable effort into ensuring we have warm, appropriate materials below 150 feet," he said. "Each building changes as it comes down to grade to give civility to the skyscrapers, to make them more humane participants in the street life of the city." Pedersen concurred. "The dominant characteristic of our buildings is their gestural capacity," he said. "They do not stand in isolation but rather seek an active relationship with every aspect of the context they engage, including the pedestrian on the street." Catch up with Samuelian, Pedersen, and other AEC industry leaders reshaping New York's built environment at Facades+NYC. Register today to secure your space at the symposium and in a lab or dialog workshop of your choice.
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In a new Manhattan skyscraper, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) reinterprets the tower-in-the-park by bringing the park up into the tower. https://vimeo.com/154626810 Today, the New York–based firm unveiled The Spiral, a 65-story skyscraper at Hudson Yards. The tower, programmed for offices and 27,000 square feet of retail, is located along the High Line, with a front entrance facing under-construction Hudson Park and Hudson Boulevard East. For those tracking the recent explosion of supertalls, The Spiral, at 1,005 feet, is eye-level with 1,004-foot One57. The prevailing visual element is a stepped group of terraces and hanging gardens, connected to double height atria, that wrap around the side of the building. For tenants renting out multiple floors, the atria can be programmed to connect to other floors, a tweak that could reduce reliance on elevators. Storytelling plays a strong role BIG's practice. The firm has a knack for delivering chronicles that distill the complexity of urban space and the ambiguities of history into a straightforward narrative that situates a project in time and place just so. “The Spiral will punctuate the northern end of the High Line, and the linear park will appear to carry through into the tower, forming an ascending ribbon of lively green spaces, extending the High Line to the skyline," asserted BIG founding principal Bjarke Ingels, in a statement. "The Spiral combines the classic Ziggurat silhouette of the premodern skyscraper with the slender proportions and efficient layouts of the modern high-rise. Designed for the people that occupy it, The Spiral ensures that every floor of the tower opens up to the outdoors creating hanging gardens and cascading atria that connect the open floor plates from the ground floor to the summit into a single uninterrupted work space. The string of terraces wrapping around the building expand the daily life of the tenants to the outside air and light.” In a video accompanying today's announcement, Ingels nails down the appeal of the swirl with pretty motifs from science and nature: "The spiral's immaculate geometry, and its suggestion of the infinite, that has mesmerized us in all cultures, and across time and place." The Spiral, he posits, will be "a new tower that stands out among its neighbors, yet feels completely at home." As buildings should? With BIG's unveil, Phase 1 development is continuing apace at Hudson Yards. When complete, the new neighborhood will allow for 26 million square feet of office space, 20,000 units of new housing, three million square feet for hotels, and two million square feet of retail. Hudson Yards first skyscraper, KPF's 10 Hudson Yards, topped out last October, with construction on 15, 30, 35, 50, and 55 Hudson Yards well underway.
Though New York has over 100,000 hotel rooms, developers on Manhattan's Far West Side feel there's room for more. Matthew Rosenberg, founding principal of Los Angeles–based M-Rad Architecture, has completed the concept design of Hudson Americano, a 740-foot-tall, 160-suite hotel at Hudson Yards. Commissioned by New York developer Black House, Hudson Americano is targeted towards wealthy international visitors. Per the luxury amenities arms race, the hotel will have a three level spa and two pools. The checkered glass, metal, and concrete facade reflects excess light during the warmer months and absorbs heat in the winter to balance the ambient temperature inside. M-Rad will strive to achieve LEED Gold certification for the completed structure. Hudson Americano is not M-Rad's first try at a splashy facade. Earlier this year, the firm unveiled a live-work tower for downtown Las Vegas that requires residents to travel through community spaces—a cafe, grocery stores, or an extensive spiral ramp—to reach their destination.
The final bucket of concrete anointed the top of Kohn Pedersen Fox's 10 Hudson Yards today. Built to LEED Platinum standards, the 52 story office building, at 30th Street and Tenth Avenue in New York City, is the first of sixteen buildings on the 28 acre site. Unusual among commercial skyscrapers in New York, a concrete superstructure and a concrete shear wall account for 98 percent of the building's weight. So far, SAP, VaynerMedia, Coach, and L'Oréal, as well as four other undisclosed tenants, will move into the 1.7-million-square-foot tower beginning March 2016. If they leave their desks, workers can enjoy direct access to the High Line from the building, as well as Hudson Yard's 14 acres of open space. Developers Oxford Properties Group, Related Companies, and Tutor Perini reinforce the building's luxury branding by noting that its three stormwater tanks can hold 1.3 million grande pumpkin spice lattes.
In the wake of a slew of criticisms on numerous glass skyscrapers' over-reflective properties, some architects and critics are asking if it's time to reassess our view on using glass facades in the future. Contemporary architecture today is at a crossroads: Do we continue to enamor the structures that reach up into the sky in a display of corporate might with reflective sheaths of glass? Take advantage of the new technology that is allowing the sun to power these buildings? Or do we take a step back and re-evaluate our position on the all-glass facade altogether? Fred A. Bernstein of the Architectural Record laments that today the "relentless repetition of glass facades leads to a numbing sameness." "Is that a building?" said a designer to Bernstein , "I thought it was a pavilion for a plexiglass convention." It's no surprise that the person, who was passing by Fumihiko Maki's creation at 51 Astor Place, feels disillusioned. At one end of the spectrum, you have cities like Bath in England where such glass behemoths are nowhere to be found. You are surrounded by the Georgian works of John Palmer, who's Lansdown Crescent, despite its scale, is not overwhelming. At the other end, you have cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai, which are filled with an unprecedented amount of glass high-rise structures, their facades lost in the sky with light bouncing off one another. Where then, do we draw the line? With modern skyscrapers being the architectural product of an ever changing, neo-liberalist, globalization obsessed corporate society, such a line may even be impossible to draw. The case for glass—to pardon the pun—is clear. For companies, having floor to ceiling windows helps break down the stratified hierarchy that was once commonplace in such office buildings by giving all employees, not just the boss, a panoramic view. When used effectively, an elegant glass facade can convey honesty and open-mindedness and even perhaps financial transparency. This may be why the style is so popular amongst financial firms, despite the fact this isn't always the case. Developers are also under pressure to maximize space. Having a thin skin such as glass is an easy solution that enables the architect to sell the building's space as good value for money. Plus, the advancement of photovoltaic cells now means that they can be installed as windows, further advocating the facade style as an economically viable asset. PV company SolarWindow, which specializes in PV-based window solutions claims that when installed on four sides of a 50-story building, 1.3 gigawatt-hours of energy can be generated. Architect Ken Shuttleworth however, has different ideas. Despite being part of the team behind the glass clad Swiss Rae building in London, he has since done a U-turn by stating that he is "rethinking" everything he as done in the last 40 years. Shuttleworth's voice is echoed by many in what is an emerging discourse on the glass structures that run the risk of becoming the scourge of the skyline. "We need to be much more responsible in terms of the way we shade our buildings and the way we thermally think about our buildings," he told the BBC last year. The only thing that appears to be halting the perpetual rise of the glass facade in the United States is a shortage in the material. Failure of the market to produce however, has not stopped developers, who according to WSJ’s Robbie Whelan, have now delved into the glass manufacturing industry. Developer, Related Cos has even gone so far as to take production methods into its own hands—building its own glass factory to create the largest private development in American history. Bruce Beal Jr., Related’s president chose to embark on the endeavor for a handful of skyscrapers and apartments on Manhattan’s West Side as part of the Hudson Yards scheme. Across the Atlantic, the trade association "Glass for Europe" is understandably keen to dismiss the growing concern about the once ubiquitous glass facade and advocate the fact that glass is fully recyclable. Pressure from trade unions isn't enough it seems to sway architecture critic Tom Dyckhoff who, like Shuttleworth, isn't a fan of the glass skyscraper. Speaking to the BBC he said, "as someone who spends their entire life staring at buildings, I am a bit bored by the glass box. They were radical in the 1920s and now they are just cliches, expensive ones at that," he said. "Now we are having to be more thoughtful about how and where we use glass. Maybe architects will become more inventive in how they use windows, instead of plastering them across whole facades." Technological advancements may be the only way this question will truly be answered, but for now, money talks and that appears to be what governs the modern architectural style today.
How architects are building a “soil sandwich” to keep plants from cooking at Hudson Yards’ rail-yard-topping Public Square
Building America’s largest private real estate development in history would be a tricky proposition whether or not it was taking shape over an active rail yard in the middle of the densest city in the country. But, of course, that is exactly where Hudson Yards—the mega development with those superlative bragging rights—is taking shape. To support the 17-million-square-foot project, Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), alongside Thornton Tomasetti, designed a massive steel platform (video below) that caps the rail yard allowing trains to move below and towers to rise into the Manhattan skyline. After years of failed attempts to build at the site, the project finally broke ground in 2012. Today, the platform is expanding horizontally and the first glass tower, also designed by KPF, is nearing completion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=35&v=PuxMfQ8UTG4 Planting a forest of skyscrapers above the rail yard has obviously required some engineering ingenuity, but planting an actual forest—or at least 200 trees—at Hudson Yards is no easy task task, either. To ensure that all of the trees, flowers, and plantings in Hudson Yards’ 4.5-acre “Public Square” flourish, landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz had to solve a tricky equation of its own. Since the green space sits atop the new platform, the firm created a special soil to provide necessary drainage and nutrients for the plantings. There is also a “soil sandwich” of sand, gravel, and concrete slab to help trees’ roots expand horizontally. In the mix, plans also call for a rainwater collection system that will irrigate the space by pooling “every drop of rainwater that falls on the Hudson Yards Public Square". Er, maybe not every rain drop will be collected but we get the idea. There's another hidden challenge for sustaining plant life in the Public Square lurking just beneath the surface, as well: the heat rising from train tracks below. That heat, if left alone, would essentially cook the roots of any plants sitting above it. To keep the trees and plants comfortable, coolant is being pumped into the concrete slab. There are also 15 jet-engine-sized fans to further dissipate the heat. The site’s developers—Related and Oxford Properties Group—are celebrating the space as a great new public amenity (it’s right there in the name: Public Square). But while the space is open to the public and can be used for cultural events and movie screenings, it’s pretty clear that it is designed to be a money-maker for the development. The Hudson Yards’ website boasts that the Public Square can be used for “marquee events” like “signature product launches” and “brand installations.” You can also expect plenty of models during Fashion Week, which will relocate to the complex's Culture Shed. Speaking of money, the day after the Public Square plan was revealed by the developer, the Independent Budget Office projected that Hudson Yards will cost the city an additional $368 million through 2019, bringing the price tag for the entire project to $947 million, as reported by DNAinfo. The city has provided $3 billion in bonds for the project along with the 7 train extension that will service the site. Revenue from residential and commercial tenants at Hudson yards was supposed to offset the cost, but that hasn't happened just yet.
On Wednesday, construction came to halt at 30 sites in New York City, including Hudson Yards, after cement workers went on strike. Crain's reported, "At midnight this morning, a collective bargaining agreement ran out between the council of carpenters and a trade organization called the Cement League. The league is made up of contractors that erect the concrete skeletons for high-rise buildings and hire district council workers for part of that job under a collective contract." As of Wednesday afternoon, the strike was ongoing.
As with most new towers these days, the offices and apartments rising at Hudson Yards are unsurprisingly wrapped in glossy, glass skins. That is why revised renderings for the new kid on the block, 55 Hudson Yards, are so notable. The 51-story office tower has plenty of floor-to-ceiling windows, but those windows are framed by a metallic grid that encases the entire building. At certain points that metallic wrap disappears as if space has been carved out of the building's exterior. The 1.3-million-square-foot tower was designed by Eugene Kohn of Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) and Kevin Roche of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates. According to a press release from developer Related, 55 Hudson Yards is inspired by “Soho and early modernism.” KPF has designed many of the Yards’ towers, but for this site, Related chairman Stephen Ross reportedly wanted to try something different. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ross asked Kohn to work with a “fresh face” to design a tower that added some architectural variety to the development. That fresh face came in the form of Roche who is famous for designing the celebrated Ford Foundation in the 1960s. Roche told the Journal that, for this project, he wanted to create a building that is “simple and straightforward, that meets the needs of the developers and occupants—a basic, fundamental sculpture." But Roche was reportedly only involved in the early parts of this project, with Kohn and his firm overseeing the major design elements.
This week, Friends of the High Line revealed the design concept for the third and final section of the High Line with a tantalizing set of renderings from James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Beginning at the intersection of 10th Avenue and West 30th Street, the latest addition, known as the High Line at the Rail Yards, will wrap westward around Related Companies’ impending Hudson Yards mega-development before culminating on 34th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. The highlight of Phase 3 is undoubtedly the large, tree-lined amphitheater that will float above the 10th Avenue and 30th Street. Dubbed the Spur, the lush, verdant bowl will offer an intimate, semi-enclosed seating area and public restrooms, while serving as a gateway to Hudson Yards and the High Line’s final stretch. The whole project, estimated to cost $76 million, is scheduled to open to the public in late 2014, though according to the Friends of the High Line, we may have to wait another year or two for the Spur. Located at the widest section of the elevated park, the Spur will provide an immersive woodland environment just a few blocks from the heart of Midtown. Encircled by wood-be forest of Snakebark maples, black tupelo trees, ferns, perennials and woodland grasses, the space will contain tiered seating amidst a lush, urban wilderness. Combing skyward views of Hudson Yard’s forthcoming skyscrapers with James Corner’s signature naturalism, the Spur will offer what is sure to be a truly unique park experience. Friends of the Highline have committed to raise $36 million, culled form private donations, for the final stage of the the park. Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, as part of their Hudson Yards development, are on board to contribute $29.2 million to the project’s construction and continued maintenance, while the Bloomberg administration and City Council allocated $11 million in capital funding.
Construction on the two-track Gateway project, a new tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan, will commence this summer beneath Related Company’s Hudson Yards redevelopment site. Related Companies and Amtrak will build this 800-foot-long “box tunnel,” which will first serve as a shell for Amtrak’s rail connection linking the Hudson tunnel to Penn Station’s tracks, and, eventually, to the proposed Moynihan Station. The actual Amtrak Gateway Project is still years away, but construction on this first leg of the tunnel is happening now to coordinate with construction on Manhattan's West Side. The project will be funded by the federal government including some funding from the Hurricane Sandy relief package meant to help mitigate flooding during future storms. It's estimated to cost between $120 and $150 million.
Hudson Yards broke ground late last year, but the Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed tower that will one day be the headquarters of fashion-label Coach isn't the only construction activity causing a buzz on the 26-acre site on Manhattan's West Side. Wrapping around the south and west sides of the Hudson Yards site, construction crews are busy building out the final segment of the High Line, including sandblasting and refurbishing the steel viaduct, repainting the steel structure's beams, girders, and columns with the High Line's signature "Greenblack" color, and removing and storing existing railroad tracks. Landscape construction is expected to begin later this spring. The Friends of the High Line recently stopped by the construction site with photographer Timothy Schenck to take these photos of work in progress. Be sure to take a look at James Corner Field Operations' design for the final segment here. Photography by Timothy Schenck, used with permission of Friends of the High Line.
Manhattan's newest neighborhood at Hudson Yards broke ground one week ago today, but the West Side area can be tricky to get to using the city's existing subway system. In 2014, however, the rumbling of trains far beneath the city's streets will stretch west from Times Square, extending the 7 Line subway a mile and a half over to 34th Street and 11th Avenue where Hudson Yards' first tower will be rapidly climbing at 30th Street and 10th Avenue. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has now shared a series of photos of the $2.4 billion, city-funded project, showing quite a bit of progress since AN toured the site one year ago this month. Most notable are the web of miles of conduit lining the walls and ceilings of the tunnels and the nearly complete ventilation towers rising near the Javits Center. Eventually, interior fit-ups will finish off the station's sleek interior with curving walls designed by Dattner Architects.