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Not so strange bedfellows: hybrid buildings in New York combine unlikely tenants

“Found money” for owners looking to monetize their air spaces, says FXCollaborative, which has designed several of these buildings.

March 03, 2020 |
77 Greenwich in New York City architect FXCollaborative

77 Greenwich in New York City combines spaces for a school and residential tenants. These “hybrid” buildings are becoming a more attractive option in this land-scarce metro. Renderings: FXCollaborative


New York City’s scarcity of developable sites, and pressures on the use of what land is available, have created opportunities for innovative design that, for the past few years, FXCollaborative has taken advantage of by creating hybrid buildings that pair tenants that typically stand alone.

“Our experience is understanding the three-dimensional puzzle,” says Dan Kaplan, a senior partner at the firm. He adds, too, that these hybrids—which he also calls “graphed buildings”—give owners and developers more options for monetizing their land and air space. “It’s found money.”

This has developed into something of a subpractice for FXCollaborative, as it touches on zoning, entitlement, and several of its other practices’ typologies.

The firm’s first hybrid project, which was completed in 2016, was 35XV in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The 170,000-sf project utilized excess development rights from the historic Xavier High School by expanding the school by 40,000 sf and building condos on top of that building. The school’s emergency power and egress are independent of the residences. The finished product, certified LEED Silver, rises 347 ft. (The clients were Alchemy Properties and Angelo Gordon.)

Nearing completion this year is a similar hybrid, 77 Greenwich, which has street-level retail and a 70,000-sf 476-seat public school at its base, and a 90-unit residential tower above, crowned with a penthouse. Trinity Place Holdings is the client for this 300,000-sf 42-story stone and glass building. “It doesn’t look like your standard public school,” says Kaplan.

One Willoughby Square in Brooklyn, which is scheduled for completion next year, will include 34 stories of office space graced with abundant daylighting and outdoor terraces, coupled with ground-level retail and a 320-seat public school on floors two through six, with its own entrance. Office workers and students will benefit from a new one-acre park in front of the building.  (JEMB Realty is the client.)

A cutaway rendering of what the office layout will look like at One Willoughby Square in Brooklyn, which will have a school and retail space on its lower floors. 


In the works, although construction hasn’t started yet, is La Hermosa Church, which FX Collaborative is working with to develop a 33-story building on the site of an existing house of worship that would include 160 residential units, of which 50 will be affordably priced. Adjacent to the tower would be a low-rise community center that includes space for religious worship as well as a gallery and event space, practice rooms, and performance space.

Kaplan notes that the building is in a neighborhood where Latin jazz has its roots, “so community is superimportant.” The development must also address landmarking, which Kaplan explains can be a challenge for a religious structure at a time when parishes are shrinking.

In January, FXCollaborative hosted a panel discussion about hybrids with a land-use attorney, a developer, and representatives from ULI NY and New York City’s School Construction Authority. Kaplan says that FX has been getting more interest from developers and owners throughout New York's counties: new projects include a library in Brooklyn, N.Y., that would have condos or offices above it. “These are buildings within buildings, and it all comes down to design and site planning,” he says.

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