When the moderator brought up Manhattan West, just a few blocks from Hudson Yards, Related Companies’ Michael Samuelian took a jab at its developer Brookfield Properties. “They’ve had that site for 30 years and nothing happened, and we started building well before they did, and now they’re catching up to us.”
At a panel held by the Harvard Architecture and Urban Society and moderated by The Real Deal’s Publisher Amir Korangy, Samuelian, architects on the project and a City Planning official discussed the progress of Related’s $20 billion Hudson Yards project, which the developer says will draw roughly 125,000 people a day. The panelists described Hudson Yards as both an extension of Midtown and its own unique neighborhood.
However, there remain uncertainties as Related continues to plan out the western yards and the future of the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Once Hudson Yards is built out in the next 20 years or so, the one-story building will be out of place in what is a densely zoned part of the city, Samuelian said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently launched efforts to pump $1 billion into expanding the center, following a recent $500 million renovation.
“They just spent a lot of money on it, so I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere anytime soon,” he said. “I think their expansion plans are smart because they’re basically trying to consolidate their assets on sites and then get rid of excess real estate to help pay for it. I think the plan is good but big picture, as a city, we should think about, is this the right place for a convention center?”
When Korangy asked where he’d prefer a convention center to be located, Samuelian initially said “no comment” then jokingly added that a different property owned by Related would be a better spot.
In terms of the project’s design, building on top of the rail yards presented a series of engineering challenges. John Ridenour, associate of the Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, said that cooling systems had to be integrated into the 26-acre platform to curb heat from the tracks. Without the cooling devices, the platform could reach upwards of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that would not bode well for vegetation planned for the top of the platform.
Two of the towers — 10 and 30 Hudson Yards — were designed to appear as if engaged in a sort of perpetual dance, said Marianne Kwok, a director at architecture firm Kohn, Pedersen and Fox. The former faces the Hudson River, while 30 Hudson Yards tilts toward the city.
“There’s a whole history of pairs of towers on the west side, that in this particular case, one was always going to be smaller than the other, so they couldn’t be twins.” she said. “As you go around the city, and kind of walk around, the whole way that you see the building changes, and that was intentional.”