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Saturday, 3 September 2011

West 57

West 57th Street, Manhattan

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Status: Seeking land-use approval

By Laura Mirviss
 West 57th
Image courtesy Big/Glessner Group
 Plans for a pyramid-shaped building on Manhattan’s West Side are as ambitious as its young architect, Bjarke Ingels, 36, who recently opened a New York City office, the first outside his native Copenhagen.

The striking, 870,000-square-foot edifice will rise on West 57th Street, between 11th and 12th Avenues, on a site that looks toward the Hudson River. Ingels describes the 700-unit structure as a “courtscraper,” a fusion of a Manhattan high-rise and an enclosed European courtyard. A large, deep gash on one side of the 467-foot-tall building will create a central, light-filled void; at its base, a verdant courtyard designed by landscape architect Starr Whitehouse will add a natural dimension to the building. “Let’s see what happens if you take the idea of Central Park and introduce it not at the scale of a city,” Ingels says, “but at the scale of a city block.”
The slanted pyramid will sit atop a podium containing a lobby, shops, and cultural space. Ingels says the sloping facades will ensure that tenants in an adjacent structure still have river views. The slopes also respond to their context metaphorically: The building angles upward from west to east (from the shoreline to the city) and from south to north (from the low-rise Clinton district to high-rise Midtown).
West 57 would mark BIG’s first building in the United States. Its design is reminiscent of prior work by the firm, such as 8 House in Copenhagen [record, August 2011, page 44], which, in addition to courtyards, features balconies angled to maximize views.
Expected to cost more than $500 million, West 57 has far to go before becoming reality. Developer Durst Fetner Residential is seeking land-use approval and hopes to begin construction in early 2012. In the meantime, BIG, whose New York outpost has 20 employees, is pursuing commissions across the Americas. Currently, it’s designing a master plan for a 40 million-square-foot neighborhood on the South Chicago waterfront.

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