When you think of supertalls you probably think of pricey real estate -- not leafy parks in the sky. A new 300m tower going up in Manhattan provides a more interesting take: Hanging gardens that twirl down the exterior of the building like a giant green exclamation point marking the end of the High Line. The 65-storey supertall is named "The Spiral" and it's one of many new buildings planned around the Hudson Yards development, which is using an artificial foundation to suspend a new neighbourhood over an active train yard. But this building has a very nice twist on the typical superskinny glass-and-steel skyscraper.
The Spiral will be tall -- about as tall as the supertalls along a strip of 57th Street nicknamed Millionaire's Row -- but the big difference here is that this tower is being built for office and retail space only. And from what Danish architect Bjarke Ingels told the Architect's Newspaper, it sounds like an exceptionally nice place to work:
Designed for the people that occupy it, The Spiral ensures that every floor of the tower opens up to the outdoors creating hanging gardens and cascading atria that connect the open floor plates from the ground floor to the summit into a single uninterrupted work space. The string of terraces wrapping around the building expand the daily life of the tenants to the outside air and light.
What's exciting -- besides the idea of standing in a cascading garden 65 storeys above Manhattan -- is that Ingels might be able to reimagine the supertall in a way that serves the city better than most of these proposals do now. Most supertalls are designed almost exclusively as places for the super-rich to reside (you know, where someone can buy a $US100 million penthouse) and are subsequently angering residents who believe they simply contribute shade without adding anything to the streetscape. If even one of these sky plazas was open to the public, it would change the conversation dramatically about what a supertall could offer to locals.
Ingels has a thing for incorporating green infrastructure into his developments, like this almost-finished residential pyramid on 57th Street which hides a courtyard inside its walls. And he's thinking about bigger issues around energy and sustainability; he's designed two power plants which also function as community space. If anyone could design a socially responsible supertall, Ingels would be a very good candidate. Let's hope the building's agenda is as progressive as its appearance.
Renderings: BIG via Tishman Speyer