Anorexic skyscrapers keep popping up in Manhattan

One project slated to begin construction next spring is designed to be only 47 feet wide.

November 28, 2015 |
Anorexic skyscrapers keep popping up in Manhattan

The ODA Architecture-designed tower at 303-305 E. 44th Street in New York City will be only 47 feet wide. Renderings courtesy ODA

Architects and developers continue to push the boundaries of height and width for skyscrapers.

Exhibit A is the project at 303-305 E. 44th Street in New York City. This ODA Architecture-designed 600-ft-high, 41-story tower will be only 47 feet wide.

At that width, this building, which expects to break ground next spring, would lay claim to being the skinniest tower built on the planet to date.

This isn’t the only super-skinny skyscraper that’s going up in Manhattan, of course. The SHoP Architects-designed 1,428-foot-high building at 111 W. 57th Street will be 58 feet wide, a smidgeon thinner and taller than the Rafael Viñoly-designed 1,396-ft residential tower at 432 Park Avenue.

SHoP has also designed Brooklyn, N.Y.’s first supertall building, a 1,000-ft skyscraper at 340 Flatbush Avenue whose height-width ratio would be about 12:1. This building is tentatively scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2019.

The East 44th Street tower, located near the United Nations, will feature six 16-foot-high gaps in its façade, each of which will be a full-floor canopied green space that wraps around the core of the tower. Penthouse residents will have their own full-floor roof garden.

This tower will have 2,600-sf floor plates, which would be about one-third the size of the tower at 432 Park Avenue. This building is scheduled for completion in late 2017, according to Triangle Assets, its developer.

The supertall skinny building trend, so far at least, has been a mostly Manhattan phenomenon. And the West 57th Street project may be approaching the height-width ratio threshold in terms of shear load. That’s especially true “for a building that wants a high degree of special views,” Vishaan Chakrabarti, a partner at SHoP Architects and director of the Center for Urban Real Estate at Columbia University, told The Atlantic’s CityLab.

Adrian Smith of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, which has designed some of the tallest structures in the world, adds that the economics of tall, skinny towers is another mitigating factor. And for areas that are seismic, “slenderer buildings are not advisable,” he said.

The races for tallest and skinniest buildings are matched only by the competition for most expensive apartments and condos. The highest-priced units in the 316,000-sf building at 111 W. 57th, which is developed by JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group, reportedly are going for around $100 million


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