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With real estate prices literally through the roof, building increasingly higher is the only foreseeable course for the future of the Manhattan's skyline. Since 9/11 building plans, in the world's most competitive urban canopy, became understandably more conservative, with most buildings topping out around the 1200 ft. mark. Unlike emerging cities like Shanghai, Dubai and Hong Kong, New York's skyline is no longer in the race for world's tallest. These days, smart growth is the goal, and to that end, ambition gives way to jurisprudence.
Here are a few of the top new projects popping up around town:
On the former site of the Twin Towers, One World Trade Center (pictured above) is proof that boardrooms don't always make great designers. Architect Daniel Liebeskind's original "Freedom Tower" proposal (sketches at the top of this post) called for a breathtaking memorial atrium in the sky, but over time his weightless glass tower gave way through a highly public design process to the more conservative WTC 1, composed of 8 triangular sides inverted upon one another, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merril. With a pinnacle height of 1776 ft., it will eventually stand as the highest point in the New York skyline.
At ground level, a 185 ft. concrete safety wall is wrapped in ultramodern lighting fixtures composed of LEDs behind a glass curtain (above). Through the use of modern lighting fixtures, you can always count on good design as a final result.
In Midtown Manhattan, 432 Park Avenue (above) will offer an interesting collection of stacked vertical boxes. At 1379 ft. when completed, it's roof height will surpass that of even the Freedom Tower making it the tallest residential tower in the country.
Building upward has always been the aim of developers in Manhattan, and only through a series of forward-thinking building codes has the entire island been spared going 100% vertical over the years. It's these codes that mandate ground-level access to sunlight (spawning the classic set-back look of NYC's art deco skyscrapers), and it's this very regulation of sunlight access that has stalled the construction of Tower Verre (pictured below), arguably NYC's most adventurous building on the books.
Originally designed to be 1,250 ft., Tower Verre has been approved at a reduced 1,050 ft. to curb the reach of an afternoon shadow it could potentially cast over Central Park.
Like the Tower Verre, quite a few towers are being proposed at the 1200 ft range, approximately the height of the Empire State Building. Among them is the Vornado Tower (below) which is mildly reminiscent of The Shard in London.
Ground floors of the Vornado Tower (above) would contain retail spaces, lit by the light wells of the atrium like walls, and augmented with state of the art recessed lighting and energy efficient fixtures.
Lastly, the massive Hudson Yards Development seeks to transform rail yards at the far western end of the island into a cluster of supertall Class A office buildings, providing Midtown Manhattan with an always-needed infusion of floor space.
While it's unlikely that New York will ever hold the world's tallest building again, the city will always hold the world's heart as the consummate vertical urban environment.
Images: Studio Daniel Liebeskind, the Atlantic, New York Observer, Curbed NY, NYC Architecture, City Land, Chelsea Now
Skyline Design: New York City's Future
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