In a time when most real estate developers in New York City are cutting costs to increase short-term profits, there is a small but growing movement towards creating urban spaces that are more livable and environmentally friendly. The design for a new residential building, called West 57th, has caused quite a bit of controversy because of the way it would seamlessly merge European and American styles of architecture into something truly unique. From the northeast it looks like a sharp and steep pyramid, yet from the southwest the pyramid swoops back more gradually from the highway in a sweeping white expanse.
Bjarke Ingels, a Danish architect, is most notable for his work on the Danish Pavilion during the 2010 World Expo. His company, Bjarke Ingels Group aka B.I.G, was selected by the Durst Fetner Residential (DFR) real estate company to build a 600-unit apartment complex in Hell’s Kitchen. This is the first North American design for B.I.G and the hybrid nature of it serves the purpose of both form and function. The building will consist of large and spacious apartments with cubist-styled windows stacked diagonally on top of each other, to give residents expansive views of the Hudson River. Some units will have balconies cut out from the facade. Located within the heart of the structure will be a spacious Copenhagen-styled courtyard and community center filled with greenery planted by Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects. The effect will be to visually extend the Hudson River Park across the highway and up into the sky.
Bjarke Ingels recently said in a statement, New York is rapidly becoming an increasingly green and livable city. The transformation of the Hudson River waterfront and the Highline into green parks, the ongoing effort to plant a million trees, the pedestrianization of Broadway and the creation of more miles of bicycle lanes than the entire city of my native Copenhagen are all evidence of urban oases appearing all over the city. With West 57th we attempt to continue this transformation into the heart of the city fabric into the center of a city block.
Durst plans on including lots of large glassy retail along the base to give residents some more options for shopping and dining in the area, which is destined to become more populated as the neighborhood is developed beyond its traditionally industrial character.
The building must still get several certifications before it’s finally approved, including one from the local community board on February 9th. Hopefully when the structure is complete it will not only enhance the river front with it’s daring design, but also spur further courage on the part of developers when they think of their next residential high rise. There’s plenty of land on the West Side of Manhattan that will be developed over the next decade… it would be great to see more of this kind of architecture, and less of the boring boxes that fail to inspire anyone. – Will Bradford