Despite concerns that New York City’s high-end housing bubble is about to burst, the supertall towers that have come to symbolize that upper-echelon of the market keep coming, one after the other. Now, with One57 open, and 432 Park topped off, SHoP’s 111 W. 57th Street—widely seen as the most attractive of the bunch—is preparing to head skyward. As the tower begins its roughly 1,400-foot climb, new renderings and details of the project have surfaced. The new information about the highly-anticipated tower was divulged by Simon Koster, principal at the JDS Development Group, at the Municipal Arts Society's 2014 Summit for New York. CityRealty's 6sqft blog was there and reports back on the latest plans. Along with a floorplan of a typical unit in the building, 6sqft unveiled some new, detailed images of the tower's skin. On its east and west-facing sides, 111 W. 57th, is clad in a terra cotta panels separated by glass, and bronze filigree details. The other two sides of the building are primarily glass—to provide optimal views of Central Park to the north and Lower Manhattan to the south. For residents of 111 W. 57th Street, this presents a conundrum: which view to pick. Just kidding, no it doesn't—apartments take up entire floors. When complete, the tower won't just be one of the tallest buildings in New York, it will be the skinniest skyscraper in the world with a floor plate of only 60 feet by 80 feet.
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UPDATE [3:00 P.M.]: Related now has control of the Spire site, after embattled developer Garrett Kelleher transferred the deed Monday night. Related withdrew their claim in U.S. Bankruptcy Court following the transfer, reported the Chicago Tribune. They haven't released plans for development or sale of the notorious site, but President Curt Bailey issued this statement:
We are pleased to have resolution on 400 N. Lake Shore Drive, the site of the former Chicago Spire project. We recognize the importance of this site to the City of Chicago and look forward to creating an architecturally significant and thoughtful development befitting this premier location. We are proud to have a long track-record of developing landmark buildings with world-class architects like 840 N. Lake Shore Drive, 500 N. Lake Shore Drive, Park Tower, 340 on the Park and most recently, 111 W. Wacker Drive. We look forward to continuing that legacy on this marquee site.-- Halloween came and went last Friday, and with it so may have developer Garrett Kelleher's chance at reviving the Chicago Spire, an ambitious supertall project that faltered during the recession and left an empty cofferdam at 400 North Lake Shore Drive. Under the terms of an earlier settlement in bankruptcy court, Kelleher's company, Shelbourne North Water Street, was required to make a payment to Related Midwest by midnight Saturday. When it did not receive the payment, Related promptly filed papers with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago to wrest control of the prime real estate from Kelleher. Last year Related moved to buy the dormant project's mounting debt, but part of Related's development team later sued Kelleher for more than $95 million in guarantees for the project. Kelleher surprised many observers in February by offering bullish statements to the media and stirring rumors of a second chance for the Santiago Calatrava–designed skyscraper. Friday's missing payment undercuts those claims. As the Chicago Tribune's Mary Ellen Podmolik reported:
Related, arguing that Shelbourne breached an already approved settlement and the confirmed bankruptcy plan by not making a payment or handing over the deed, wants U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Janet Baer to order Shelbourne to relinquish the deed to the 2.2-acre site.It looks increasingly unlikely that the Spire will rise again. Under Related's control, however, the downtown location could see some sort of development—if not the audacious starchitecture for which it was intended. A court hearing on the motion is scheduled for the morning of November 4.
In September the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) gathered high-minded designers, developers and engineers for a conference in Shanghai. CTBUH, which often partners with AN on conferences, including our own Facades+ events, invited me to serve as a special media correspondent for the conference, held September 16–19. I spent most of the time conducting video interviews with the symposium guests, which we'll post here on the AN blog as they become available. For now, here' a quick overview of the topics discussed. The theme of this year's conference was “Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism.” It was an especially relevant topic given the venue—held in the elegant, SOM-designed Jin Mao Tower, the conference looked for lessons (and warnings) in the kind of supertall, super-dense development that turned the Lujiazui area of Shanghai's Pudong district from farmland into a world financial center in just 20 years. Symposium presenters tackled sustainability from several angles. Matthew Clifford, head of energy and sustainability services for North Asia at JLL, stressed building operation and management is as important as design when it comes to energy use and building performance. Cathy Yang, manager of Taipei 101, recounted how “greening” the 101-story building did not turn a profit until the initiative's sixth year, but then made up for it in just three years. The Taiwanese supertall remains the largest LEED Platinum–certified building in the world. Jianping Gu of Shanghai Tower Construction and Development espoused the benefits of the “stereoscopic” form of his building, which at 2,073 feet is set to become the tallest building in China upon completion next year. “If you compare Shanghai Tower to Taipei 101, Petronas Towers, those were all isolated," Gu said. "There were already two towers in the vicinity when we started. We had to pay particular attention to harmonizing with those buildings. We consider this an issue of sustainability.” But towering, monumental architecture may not be for everyone. David Gianotten, an OMA partner heading the firm's Hong Kong office, told me OMA gets so many briefs seeking “iconic” design that the word has begun to lose its meaning. “If everything's special, then nothing's special,” he said. That debate continued onto the conference floor, where developers discussed how China's third- and fourth-tier cities should embrace the tall building boom—or whether they should at all. On the conference's final day, Mun Summ Wong of Singapore-based WOHA talked about the psychological environment of horizontal cities, and how tall buildings should better embrace the human scale. “The idea is to inject more urban life into the high-rise city,” Wong said. “We introduce horizontal movement in the high-rise building because it changes the dynamic. When you talk to the people next to you in an ordinary high-rise, it is considered rude. But in the street, you talk to people, build relationships and bonds.” Similarly, Yang Wu of the Bund Finance Center warned of the risks of homogeneous skylines. “When I open my eyes in the morning and I am in Shenzhen, I still think I am in Shanghai because they look the same,” he said. “[China is] duplicating buildings and the mistakes of the West. There is focus on building bizarre and tall buildings but ignorance of the connotations–resulting in cold buildings for cold cities. As a developer, I call on architects: you need to have your own independent ideas that bring vitality.” You can read more about the conference on CTBUH's website. Check back here as we post video interviews.
New details have emerged on New York’s latest, tallest, super-tall skyscraper—the Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill–designed tower rising on, where else, 57th Street. Real estate blog NY YIMBY has uncovered new drawings for 225 West 57th Street, which will rise to a height within one foot of One World Trade Center. The 1,775-foot-tall tower, known as the Nordstrom Tower for the store that will anchor its base, will have a glass curtain wall accentuated by aluminum louvers and steel fins. There have been limited renderings for the project from the start, and the latest drawings only hint at what is next. Here's what we do know: as noted by YIMBY, at its height, Nordstrom Tower has a higher roof than the Willis Tower in Chicago and is slated to become the tallest residential building… in the world.
Chinese real estate developers Wanda Commercial Properties announced Wednesday plans to build an 89-story mixed-use tower in Chicago’s Lakeshore East neighborhood that would unseat Aon Center as the city’s third tallest building. At approximately 1,150 feet tall, the tower at 375 E. Wacker Dr. would be among the tallest buildings in Chicago. AN reached out to Alderman Brendan Reilly’s office to confirm the announcement, which was reported in the Wall Street Journal and Chicago Architecture Blog Tuesday, but so far our calls have not been returned. A spokesman for Lakeshore East developer Magellan Properties declined to comment. Chinese news agency Sina reported the building will house a five-star hotel and apartments, and is expected to open in 2018. Along with a retail component, that should total 1.4 million square feet of space, according to Chicago Architecture Blog. The designer is still unspecified, but a rendering from Wanda Group shows three staggered volumes constructed from stacked frustums, or cut-off pyramid shapes. If built, it would occupy the lot adjacent to the new GEMS World Academy building, designed by bKL Architecture. The Beijing-based company, commonly called Wanda Group, is known in the U.S. for buying cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings, and has amassed dozens of hotels and department stores in China. The $900 million Chicago project would be the first step in what Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin said will be a big move into U.S. real estate. "Investing in Chicago property is just Wanda's first move into the U.S. real estate market," Jianlin said in a statement, "Within a year, Wanda will invest in more five-star hotel projects in major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. By 2020, Wanda will have Wanda branded five-star hotels in 12–15 major world cities and build an internationally influential Chinese luxury hotel brand." We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.
Where there are tall buildings there are also tall elevators. Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Tower, designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, will be the tallest building in the world if constructed as planned. The building is expected to stand 3,281 feet tall and will require elevators the likes of which the world has never seen. Luckily for the Kingdom Tower, one elevator company is researching the extremes of vertical circulation. The Finnish elevator company KONE has already begun construction of prototype elevators for the project, but these test lifts don't jut up into the sky. They drop deep beneath the earth’s surface. They company is currently testing and constructing their technologically advanced elevators in an abandoned 19th century mine shaft in South Finland. Since the site was chosen in 2008 as an ideal elevator testing ground, KONE has made progress in developing Ultrarope, a new piece of technology that will allow elevators to travel distances up to 1,000 meters: an unimaginable feat until now. Unlike most modern elevators which typically use steel cables, Ultrarope houses a carbon fiber core surrounded by a high-friction coat. The carbon fiber core is very light, reduces energy consumption noticeably, and decreases the weight of nearly all the major components operating the elevator. In addition to the markedly reduced energy consumption, this new cable material will last twice as long as regular steel lines and does not require frequent lubrication for maintenance. The Kingdom Tower will be filled with 65 elevators and escalators, each designed to maximize comfort and speed while also ensuring the safety of its occupants. KONE was previously tasked with designing the elevators for the third tallest building in the world, the Makkah Clock Royal Tower in Saudi Arabia.
Chicago’s stalled supertall Spire could rise again, according to the Irish developer who went into foreclosure in 2010 after a protracted legal battle over the project. Garrett Kelleher’s lawyers on Thursday filed papers in U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking court approval to move ahead with the Chicago Spire, which remains a hole in the ground at 400 North Lake Shore Drive. Kelleher said a $135 million investment from Atlas Apartment Holdings would allow him to settle bankruptcy claims in full but, as reported in the Chicago Tribune, the court filings don’t say how much more money would be needed to fund the construction of the 2,000-foot-tall condo skyscraper. The twisting tower would have been the largest in the western hemisphere, but the project fell apart in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Skyward-looking Chicagoans, however, never went long without some speculation of the Spire’s resurrection. In June last year, Related Cos. of New York signed on to buy the project's debt. But an affiliate of Related later sued Kelleher for more than $95 million in guarantees involved with the project. According to the plan proposed Thursday, Kelleher’s firm Shelbourne North Water Street would put forward a reorganization plan by August 31 to bring the project out of bankruptcy, potentially transferring the property to Atlas. "We have been working with Garrett Kelleher over the past several months and now share his belief and vision in the Chicago Spire," said Steven Ivankovich, CEO of Northbrook-based Atlas, in a statement. Kelleher seemed optimistic as ever about the project’s sky-high ambitions. "Given the ongoing recovery in the Chicago property market, the timing is better now than when this project commenced," Kelleher said in a statement. "I am delighted to have found a partner who believes in the project as passionately as I do."
Move over, Willis Tower. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) issued its official ruling Tuesday: New York’s One World Trade Center unseats the Chicago skyscraper as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The new tower’s symbolic height of 1,776 feet was called into question when a design change suggested it might achieve that elevation only through the addition of a removable broadcast antenna. CTBUH counts only structural elements that are considered an integral part of the building’s aesthetic. It was designers Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s assertion that 1 World Trade Center’s communications equipment represented a permanent architectural feature that persuaded CTBUH to affirm its height. The bottom point of the building was also in dispute. Without antennae, 1 World Trade Center is 1,368 feet tall — the height of the original World Trade Center tower destroyed in the 2001 terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Chicago’s Willis Tower (also an SOM building), still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower, stands 1,451 feet tall — 1,729 feet tall with antennas. It was the tallest building in the world until 1996, when the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, won CTBUH’s recognition.
International Property Developers (IPD) has renewed plans for massive developments around Chicago’s Old Main Post Office. IPD bought the structure in 2009 for $40 million and has been working with Chicago-based architects Antunovich Associates on a plan to surround the massive building, which has almost as much interior space as Willis Tower, with three new towers. The first phase, expected to take 5-7 years, would be a 100-story tower with 800,000 square feet of retail, 2,900 residential units, and 525,000 square feet of office space. Following that, a second 2,000-foot-tall tower would go up, adding 3,500 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office space, and 920 hotel rooms. The project’s 5,700-space parking garage, rising six stories, would be built during the first phase, project representatives said at a public meeting Tuesday. Those numbers are daunting, but so is the original acquisition, after all. They would need a sizable anchor tenant to lend the proposal some economic legitimacy. A casino, perhaps? Aldermanic support for the $3.5 billion development has apparently not waned, nor has scrutiny of its decidedly suburban sensibility and so-far uninspiring design.
Scrap your afternoon plans and take an amazing aerial tour of Dubai, instead. Photographer Gerald Donovan has created an interactive panorama of the city as seen from the top of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa for the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award. The view was taken from the top of the tower, some 2,722 feet above the street, reached by climbing nearly 660 feet through the Burj Khalifa's enormous spire. Users can pan around and zoom in to observe the surrounding cityscape with amazing detail. To achieve the stunning effect, Donovan stitched 70 photographs together, each a whopping 80 megapixels, to create a single 2.5 gigapixel panorama. [Via The Telegraph.]
Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on New York and New Jersey, and the current 55 to 60 mile an hour wind gusts tearing through Central Park have already taken their toll on Manhattan's starchitecture, partially collapsing the construction crane at Christian de Portzamparc's supertall One57 tower on West 57th Street. The storm snapped the boom of the crane at the summit of the 95-story, 1,004-foot-tall residential tower, which now dangles precariously over the streets of midtown Manhattan. The scene on the street is still developing, but NY1 reports that the crane could become off-balance causing a further collapse. Surrounding streets have been closed and emergency crews are on the scene. [Via Observer & Curbed.] Elsewhere in New York, wind gusts are picking up. The storm surge along the East River has sent water rushing into low-lying areas of the East River Esplanade and FDR Drive. In Brooklyn, AN stopped by the Gowanus Canal (photo below) at approximately 1:30pm to find a higher-than-normal water level, but no significant flooding in the area. As Sandy moves closer to land, winds and rain are expected to increase and the storm surge to rise.
Bjarke Ingels, architect of mountains, now has set his eyes on Everest. The New York and Copenhagen-based architect's firm BIG has been tapped by the Rockefellers to design one of the world's tallest buildings at 1,929 feet for a new commercial development in Tianjin, China, a city of nearly 13 million people. Ingels revealed a cryptic, fog-shrouded rendering of the tower on his web site—indicative of the scarcity of detail yet released on the tower—but this being the information age, AN found more information and views of the tower on a clear day. BIG is working with HKS Architecture and Arup to design the $2.35 billion Rose Rock International Finance Center set within an SOM-designed master plan for the Tianjin Binhai New Area Central Business District. The new commercial neighborhood to the southeast of Tianjin replaces a formerly industrial peninsula with a mix of high-rises, historic sites, and parks anchored by a high-speed rail station and helps to connect it to the coast. Rose Rock Group, founded by Steven C. Rockefeller Jr., Steven C. Rockefeller III, and Collin C. Eckles, held a ceremonial groundbreaking on December 16, 2011 and is promoting the new tower as a key to transforming Tianjin into "the financial center of Northern China." Renderings show a terraced pyramidal tower with a palpable vertical thrust and clear reference to the Art-Deco stylings of its inspiration, the Rockefeller Center in New York. Just as the Rockefellers built ambitiously skyward in New York 80 years ago, Ingels said in a statement, "The Rose Rock International Finance Center will be to the contemporary Chinese city what the Rockefeller Center was to the American city of the 1930s: an architectural landscape of urban plazas and roof gardens designed to stimulate and cultivate the life between the buildings." Only this time, over a thousand feet higher.