From windows inside—or out of—the five boroughs, and in the uncanny stillness of the present day, one might be able to see (and ruminate upon the fact) that NYC‘s skyline has changed dramatically in recent years. Away from the mega-projects of Hudson Yards, the Williamsburg waterfront and the World Trade Center, jagged teeth have risen among the historic structures that have long lent their power to the iconic cityscape. The seven towers we highlight below were not selected for their height (thus, our exclusion of Central Park Tower—the world’s highest residential building); they were chosen because they contribute more than their stunning architecture, stance and and super-tall silhouette. They benefit the city and its people in other ways.
53 West 53
53 West 53 topped out in August 2018—at a staggering 1,050 feet—and came to completion in 2019. The vision of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, the magnificent tower’s facade—complete with a one-of-a-kind exoskeleton—tapers into three sheer crystalline peaks. This MoMA-adjacent spire is primarily residential in nature, but its lower floors house gallery spaces that are a functional part of the museum—and available for all visitors to appreciate.
Visionary architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang’s Studio Gang makes their NYC residential debut (in collaboration with Hill West Architects) with Downtown Brooklyn‘s 11 Hoyt. The 57-story structure’s scalloped facade, assembled from various prefabricated concrete units, brings dimension to the neighborhood and appears to shift as the sun moves through the sky. It was the project’s landscape architects, Hollander Design, who brought something unexpectedly special by planting milkweed and thistle in the building’s private park. These botanicals are there to attract migratory monarch butterflies to the neighborhood.
Two twisting structures comprise West Chelsea’s The XI (from iconoclastic Danish architect Bjarke Ingels‘ firm, BIG): the 26-story eastern tower, named N° X, and the 36-story western tower named N° I. Primarily residential, the mixed-use compound will feature the first-ever Six Senses hotel in the city, as well as retail and art spaces. It’s The XI’s public promenade that will offer the community most, as it’s an official extension of the beloved above-ground park, The High Line.
Acclaimed architect Sir David Adjaye‘s first high-rise addition to NYC (designed in collaboration with Hill West Architects), 130 William towers 800 feet over the Financial District with a uniquely inspired hand-cast concrete facade (an adaptation of classic Manhattan stonework), exquisite arched windows, and bronze accents. It’s a texture not seen, let alone at this magnitude, and it casts the residential building into relief against lower Manhattan. Accompanying the tower, Adjaye designed a new public park plaza.
When Skyline Tower topped out in October 2019, it became the tallest building in Queens (at 778 feet, not quite enough to reach the super-tall category of 984 feet). That said, it will not be completed until 2020. The glass and steel Long Island City structure, also designed by Hill West Architects, offers unprecedented views of Manhattan—but it’s the developers roughly $17 million commitment to replenish the neighboring Court Square–23rd Street station (at the base of the building) that will benefit more than its residents.
111 West 57th
SHoP Architects‘ 111 West 57th rises 1,428 feet up—and it will hold a world record as the thinnest skyscraper. It’s the base, however, that preserves the original, landmarked Steinway Building exterior, designed in 1925 by Warren & Wetmore (and featuring a restoration and conversion of its interior). Further, Steinway & Sons made their vast musical catalogue free for all to enjoy. From the elegant architectural setbacks on the southern side to the recital hall inside, 111 West 57th sets itself apart from its neighbors.
SL Green Realty Corporation set out to build a new monument for NYC with their 1,401-foot office tower, One Vanderbilt—which is still under construction. They tapped architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates to imagine something extraordinary that didn’t overpower their iconic neighbor, Grand Central Terminal. From their commitment to recycled construction materials and sustainable design attributes—including a 50,000-gallon rainwater collection and treatment system—to their belief in WELL building certification, which requires attention to features that impact mental health and well-being, the building represents the future of construction standards in NYC. Further, One Vanderbilt’s development team has committed $220 million for transit improvement (both subway and commuter train lines) as well as a new pedestrian plaza the city will create through the closure of Vanderbilt Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets.
Hero image of The XI courtesy of DBOX