New York City’s Midtown West will be experiencing a large makeover over the coming years. Shortly after Hudson Yards broke ground in late 2012, Brookfield Properties initiated the first phase of its 5.4 million-square-foot master plan for Manhattan West on the corner of 33rd Street and 9th Ave. Hovering over Penn Station’s Railroad tracks, an engineering feat will support two 60-story towers that will encompass residential and commercial functions, as well as public and community space.
Midtown West has had a long infrastructural history of which this site is an inclusionary part. For years, the Javits Jacob Center at 35th and 12th and the Hudson River Greenway were among the few attractions along this portion of Manhattan’s west side. Otherwise dominated by manufacturers, body shops, parking facilities and vacant lots, the Railyards have been a prominent feature of this geography. A crater accommodates the myriad rail lines located 65 feet below grade that feed commuter and regional traffic into the heart of New York City. And while it existed as such, Brookfield Properties had the ingenious idea to turn this otherwise vacant lot into another development venture.
Manhattan West will join Hudson Yards in turning the area into a destination point which millions of square feet devoted to residential, commercial, and public use. The new functions of the now vacant lots will transform Midtown West from an infrastructure-heavy center to a vibrant part of the city. The land under which the railyards are built have been owned by Brookfield since the 1980s. Plans to develop the site have been inhibited by the railyards, making it difficult to reach the bedrock below for a stable foundation. The need to use the perimeter of the entire block was vital to making the development a possibility. When Brookfield finally acquired the last piece of land, the last piece of the puzzle was finding the right technology to cantilever over the open railyards.
No amount of engineering is insurmountable to bring new developments to New York City. The first phase of Manhattan West will include the construction of a platform of 16 bridges, which will cover 60% of the site, over the Penn Station Railyard making it possible to build above the site without disturbing train operations below. The platform building technology that is to be adopted became available to Brookfield in 2009. The bridges will be constructed out of post-tension precast concrete. The sixteen segments will form a deck over the tracks after which construction will begin. Check out this video to see the deck engineering involved.
This physically shared lot is a reality of New York City’s blend of infrastructure and architecture. There is a constant challenge to engineer new buildings that work within the intricate framework of subway lines, regional lines, along with the electrical, gas and sewer systems that exist in every major city. The exciting redevelopment of Midtown West is just beginning and will certainly bring a new identity to the neighborhood, linking the Jacob Javits Center, north of the site, to Chelsea Piers and the Gallery District south of the site with intricate public spaces and the existing Hudson River Greenway to the West.
via The New York Observor: Manhattan West on the Rise by Matt Chaban