A BIG New York Debut: West 57th

Courtesy of

The awkwardly shaped large site at West Side Highway and 57th Street is about to get a whole lot more attention. and BIG will finally make their architectural debut in North America, with an unusual apartment building design in none other than New York City. The asymmetrical peak almost pyramid in shape is the result of blending the mismatched forms of a typical Manhattan tower podium and a low-rise apartment block European in style.

BIG’s reinvention of the ‘New York apartment building’ somehow is able to check all of the boxes, providing a connection to the waterfront and the Hudson River Park, acknowledging the surrounding context both in relationship to building size and neighbors’ views, and alleviating traffic noise. The leafy green courtyards that pop up within this new residential typology help to balance a steeply sloped facade, 450-feet at its peak. Designed for client Durst Fetner Residential, the building offers both a cultural and commercial program and will accommodate 600 residential units varying in size.

Follow the break for the architect’s description and more photographs.

Architects: BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group
Location: Manhattan, New York, USA
Partner in Charge: Bjarke Ingels
Project Leader: Beat Schenk
Project Architect: Sören Grünert
Project Team: Thomas Christoffersen, Celine Jeanne, Daniel Sundlin, Alessandro Ronfini, Aleksander Tokarz, Alessio Valmori, Alvaro Garcia Mendive, Felicia Guldberg, Gabrielle Nadeau, Ho Kyung Lee, Julian Liang, Julianne Gola, Lucian Racovitan, Marcela Martinez, Maria Nikolova, Minjae Kim, Mitesh Dixit, Nicklas Rasch, Riccardo Mariano, Stanley Lung, Steffan Heath, Thilani Rajarathna, Xu Li
Architect of Record: SLCE Architects
Landscape Architects: Starr Whitehouse
Structural: Thornton Tomasetti
MEP: Dagher Engineering
Civil: Langan Engineering
Construction Manager: Hunter Roberts
Transportation: Philip Habib & Assoc.
Building Envelope: Israel Berger & Assoc.
Marketing: Nancy Packes
Vertical Transportation: Van Deusen & Assoc.
Acoustical: Cerami & Assoc.
Wind: CPP
Environmental: AKRF
Client: Durst Fetner Residential
Project Area: 870,000 sqf
Renderings & Animation: German Glessner

Courtesy of BIG

BIG has taken a step back to survey the rules of the system in Manhattan and is introducing a European typology: the perimeter block. With an efficient layout and a sense of intimacy, the perimeter block meets demands for density and security. In this project, we have married it to the traditional Manhattan high-rise, creating a unique shape which combines the advantages of both: the compactness of a courtyard  with the airiness and the amazing views of a skyscraper. The form of the building shifts depending on the viewer’s vantage point. From the West Side Highway, it appears to be a pyramid; from West 58th, a dramatic glass spire.

Courtesy of BIG

By keeping three corners of the block low and lifting the north-east portion of the building, the courtyard opens views towards the Hudson River and brings the low western sun deep into the block. While the courtyard is a private space for residents, it can still be seen from the outside, creating a visual connection to the greenery of the Hudson River Park. The slope of the building allows for a transition in scale between the low-rise structures to the south and the high-rise residential towers to the north and west of the site.

Courtesy of BIG

The eye-catching and highly visible roof consists of a simple ruled surface perforated with terraces—each one unique and south-facing. Its closed appearance is in contrast with the building’s perimeter.

Courtesy of BIG

The building is predominantly residential units of different sizes with cultural and commercial program at the street level and the second floor. By slightly angling the interior walls, all units are oriented towards the Hudson River and the sun. The fishbone pattern of the walls can also be found in the elevation. Every apartment has a bay window to take advantage of the site’s spectacular views. In addition, the balconies encourage interaction between the residents and the passers-by.

Courtesy of BIG
Cite: Minner, Kelly. "A BIG New York Debut: West 57th" 07 Feb 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 Dec 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=109832>
  • matteo soru

    intresting…but is ny ready for this stuff?

    • José Ignacio

      New York is always ready, either for the most brilliant or the most obnoxious staff!

  • blogger

    I have not seen any of their building in person, but as yet i am not convinced from the images and descriptions that this is any different to any other standard apartment building. I’m very cautious about it all..

  • http://www.paulchristiansen.info UCBerk

    Very formally ambitious, but I wonder about the spatial qualities of the rooms. Would be nice to see a few plans to understand how they resolve circulation in such a unique form.

    • alechs

      Totally.
      I hope I’m not pointing out the obvious but my guess is that the residential floors are actually L-shaped with double loaded corridors that end with suites. The corners are probably where exit stairs and circulation shaft are.

      I think most of the wow factor comes from the slope. Apart from the big formal gesture this building seems generic and looks slightly gaudy. Kudos to the simple rational but the aesthetics are questionable.

      • haircut

        It seems pretty simple, I don’t understand why people are so confused by the rectilinear footprint…

  • bigfan

    O man I really hope this gets built!!!

  • big D

    Just like Bjarke himself , loud and simple ideas.

  • Diego ChV

    The 8 building is quite dissapointing. Besides Shangai’s Pavillion, I think most of their good works were made as PLOT. This is just another not-so-cool diagram that could eventually be built.

  • iPape

    I hope this one stays on paper…
    The double curved surface is poorly managed… a shame to NY city grid.

    a new yorker

  • orange nyc

    this is only okay because most new york apartments are so boring.