Jean Nouvel tower grows by seven stories

By Adam Pincus | May 19, 2009 11:51AM

Jean Nouvel and renderings of 53 West 53rd Street

Developers of a Jean Nouvel-designed skyscraper adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art have applied to build a tower seven stories taller than the proposal they originally unveiled two years ago.
The willowy design for the tower at 53 West 53rd Street the developer announced in the fall of 2007 was 75 stories tall, but the one included in a recent filing with the Department of City Planning and described on the developer’s Web site is 82 stories high.
The building has been controversial, with Community Board 5 criticizing its height and bulk in a resolution in March 2008, calling it an “eccentric, asymmetrical tower.”

The mixed-use project from Houston-based international developer Hines Interests will have 100 hotel rooms and 120 condominium units on the upper floors, and also include a 60,000-square-foot expansion of MoMa’s galleries on the second to the fifth floors, the Hines Web site says. The number of hotel and condo rooms has not changed since 2007, but the amount of space for the museum has grown from 50,000 in 2007 to 60,000, according to the latest description on the Web site. A museum spokesperson put the figure at 70,000 square feet. Hines did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Although Hines unveiled the design in 2007, the firm made its first application under the Department of City Planning’s uniform land use review procedure, or ULURP, on May 12, city records show. The company is seeking a special permit to transfer 136,000 square feet from the landmarked University Club at 1 West 54th Street to the development site, a city official said in an e-mail.
The developer is also seeking a special permit to waive requirements on height, setback, rear yard and pedestrian circulation through the application, the official said.

The ULURP application is expected to be
discussed by the land use committee of Community Board 5 and the entire
board in June, the board’s district manager, Wally Rubin, said.