Midtown Manhattan is an urban icon. The history of zoning laws that have been shaping it for a century command respect and attention. The City’s rules of vertical growth have created more than just a display of wealth or a new architectural style. They materialize Manhattan’s power and life energy, and make it the substance of the City’s monumental scale. Building a tower in Midtown Manhattan starts with a dialogue between decision makers. Ultimately, this dialogue will have to answer two questions of substance.
What ideas is this tower made of and what is its place in the City? With his design for the Tower Verre, Jean Nouvel proposes to take the strict respect of the zoning envelope to the point where its shape becomes the tower itself. Governed by its legal envelope and the structural framing needed to withstand the wind loads, this building is as unique and singular as the parcel it stands on. From close up, its receding stealth geometry makes it surprisingly discrete and unobtrusive for its height. Seen from Central Park, the bridges and most locations on the river banks, its triangular silhouette stands out and is very recognizable in the Manhattan skyline, inscribing the MoMA unmistakably as one of New York’s most famous and successful cultural institutions.
The façades of the tower are a structural glazing in standard glass dimensions and the bracing structure follows the simplest and most economical geometry. Living inside this building feels like inhabiting a powerfully present and reassuring structure, similar to that of a large tree. The tower draws its shape from the desire for more daylight in the streets. The narrow triangular top section is putting its unusually thin silhouette to good purposes.
This tower is a monument to the rules of shadow and light, and to the forces of the wind.
LOCATION 53 West 53rd Street, New York 10019, USA
CLIENT Private: Hines and Whitehall, Goldman-Sachs
ARCHITECT Jean NOUVEL – Ateliers Jean Nouvel (Paris, FR)
ASSOCIATED ARCHITECTS AAI Architects – Toronto /SLCE Architects – New York/The Office of Thierry Despont – New York
PROJECT LEADERS Bertram BEISSEL, Manal RACHDI, Damien FARAUT, François LEININGER, Ingrid MENON, Stacy EISENBERG
ARCHITECTS Pablo ALVARENGA, Maya BARAKAT, Jean-Patrick DEGRAVE, Constanza JORQUERA, Narjis LEMRINI, Amanda ORTLAND BEISSEL, Matthieu PUYAUBREAU, Mélanie DOREMUS, Fred IMBERT, Tristan ISRAEL, Laetitia DEGROOTE, Etienne GOBIN
GRAPHIC DESIGN & INTERIOR DESIGN Elise TAPONIER, Sabrina LETOURNEUR, Floriane ABELLO
PERSPECTIVES Benjamin ALCOVER, Manal RACHDI, Raphaël RENARD
- Structure: Aedis
- Vertical circulation: Kone
- Structure: WSP Cantor Seinuk
- Building services: WSP Flack + Kurtz
- Facades: Israel Berger & Associates
MODEL Polyrepro, Jean-Louis COURTOIS
Studies: 2007-2009; 2012-2013
CONTRACT TYPE Competition, winning project; full design services
Competition : Hotel, housing and extension of the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)
Project: Apartments and extension of the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)
BUILDING 1050 ft tower, 149 apartments, restaurant, retail
USABLE FLOOR AREA 57 000 m²
GROSS FLOOR AREA 5 181 m²
BUDGET Non disclosed