The shifting skyline: TRD’s 10 most notable buildings of the decade

Apr.April 01, 2013 07:00 AM

From left: 100 11th Avenue, One World Trade Center and Time Warner Center

The Manhattan skyline is the Big Apple’s most iconic feature. And, much like the city itself, it’s always changing.

“[It’s] so dynamic, it’s almost a barometer for what’s going on in the rest of the world,” said Eran Chen, the founder of the Manhattan-based firm Office for Design & Architecture. “Every cultural change, every economical change, every social change is being expressed in New York City’s skyline.”

In the 10 years since The Real Deal launched, the skyline has seen some particularly significant changes, with the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11 attacks and a host of starchitect-designed condos, which sprang up during the mid-2000s economic boom. The now-famed 15 Central Park West, designed by Robert A.M. Stern, is a case in point.

New York now has “more beautiful, well-designed, well-thought-of, gorgeous buildings” than in the past, Chen said. “There are more iconic buildings.”

In particular, “on the residential side, I think there’s a revolution in Manhattan,” Chen said. “The idea of ‘build it and they’ll come’ is being questioned, and developers are being challenged to do real architecture.”

And the next few years will bring even more changes to the skyline. On the West Side, Durst Fetner has broken ground on its pyramid-shaped apartment building. Occupancy at the Bjarke Ingel–designed building, which is located at 625 West 57th Street, is expected to begin by spring 2015.

Meanwhile, when completed in 2015, Harry Macklowe’s 1,396-foot-tall 432 Park Avenue, designed by Rafael Viñoly, will become the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere. That is, until Extell Development Company’s new 233-unit residential building at 225 West 57th Street (which will also be home to the city’s first Nordstrom department store) comes online. That building is slated to be at least 1,550 feet tall.

This month, TRD pinpointed some of the big additions to the skyline since the magazine launched in 2003.

555 West 18th Street

The IAC Building (555 West 18th Street)
The first Frank Gehry–designed New York City office building, the InterActiveCorp headquarters stands out not so much for its height — 160 feet — but for its distinct curved glass-curtain walls. Developed by the Georgetown Company, The 10-story, 130,000-square-foot building, which houses 400 employees for IAC, the Internet conglomerate headed by business mogul Barry Diller, broke ground in 2004 and was completed in 2007.

Eight Spruce Street

New York by Gehry (Eight Spruce Street)
Developed by Forest City Ratner, 8 Spruce stands 870 feet tall and (for now) is the tallest fully completed residential tower in the Western Hemisphere. The building, Gehry’s first New York City residential tower, features waves of stainless steel that reflect light differently throughout the day. As the New York Times noted, it “ripples like the Statue of Liberty’s gown.” The bottom five floors have a brick façade designed to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. “It used to be you’d get out of the subway and look for the World Trade Center to see which way was south,” said Lori Ordover, the founder of development consulting firm the Ordover Group. “Now you get out and there’s the [Gehry] building. You can figure out your way around in relation to that.”

100 11th Avenue

100 11th Avenue
Pritzker Prize–winning architect Jean Nouvel famously described this 23-story, 72-unit condo tower as a “vision machine.” Developed by Cape Advisors, with financial backing from Howard Lorber’s Vector Group, that vision includes the building’s intricate curtain wall, made from nearly 1,700 colorless windowpanes that are each tilted at a different angle and in a different direction, according to a building representative. The atrium contains suspended vegetable gardens and trees that appear to float in mid-air. Facing the IAC Building on the West Side Highway, apartments at 100 11th Avenue began selling at an average price of more than $2,700 per square foot, though the building faced financial difficulties during the downturn. All of the building’s units are either sold or in contract, a spokesperson said.

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center
In April 2012, the under-construction One World Trade Center, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, surpassed the Empire State Building to become the tallest building in New York City. The 104-story, 3 million-square-foot building, which topped out in August at a symbolic 1,776 feet, is slated to wrap up construction in early 2014. It was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and is being co-developed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Durst Organization.

Time Warner Center

Time Warner Center (10, 25 and 80 Columbus Circle)
With two 750-foot towers and a shopping concourse, the massive Time Warner Center houses multimillion-dollar condos, a 59,000 square-foot Whole Foods Market, the Mandarin Oriental hotel, CNN’s studios and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and co-developed by Related Companies and AREA Property Partners (formerly Apollo Real Estate Advisors), the $1.7 billion twin towers started construction in 2000 and opened in 2004. “Time Warner really changed the landscape,” Ordover said. “You look around and you see it. If you’re on the East Side … you see Time Warner.”

620 Eighth Avenue

New York Times building (620 Eighth Avenue)
Italian architect Renzo Piano designed this 1,046-foot-tall tower as the new headquarters of the New York Times. With its horizontal ceramic rods, the Forest City Ratner–developed building has gained fame for being easy to climb: During the summer of 2008, the year after it was finished, three men scaled the building, including “the French Spiderman,” Alain Robert. Together with the speculative office tower 11 Times Square, which is next door, the building pushed the boundaries of Time Square further west.

300 West 57th Street

Hearst Tower (300 West 57th Street)
With the original 1928 Hearst International Magazine Building as his inspiration, British architect Sir Norman Foster brought Hearst Corporation’s global headquarters into the 21st century with this progressively designed and environmentally conscious office building. Completed in 2006, this 46-story, 597-foot-tall glass-and-steel tower features diamond-shaped windows that give the building an angular, rippling appearance. The New Yorker hailed the building as “the most beautiful skyscraper to go up in New York since 1967.”


One57 (157 West 57th Street)
Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Christian de Portzamparc, One57 is Extell’s latest contribution to the residential marketplace. Located between Sixth and Seventh avenues, the nearly finished $1.5 billion, 1,050-foot-tall structure will (temporarily) be New York’s tallest residential building. The 92-unit tower, which is reportedly 70 percent sold, also made headlines when a penthouse there went into contract for over $90 million.

One Bryant Park

Bank of America Tower (1 Bryant Park; 115 West 42nd Street)
At 1,200 feet, the Bank of America Tower isn’t the tallest building in New York, but it might be the greenest. Developed by the Durst Organization and completed in 2009, the building was designed by COOKFOX Architects and became the first skyscraper to attain LEED Platinum status. Some of the eco-friendly features of BofA’s New York headquarters include waterless urinals, an aluminum-framed curtain wall with low-emission insulating glass, and a spire with a built-in wind turbine that generates electricity. “The fact that such a big, significant building was built as a LEED Platinum is significant because it tells you that people think it has value,” Chen said.

Four World Trade Center

Four World Trade Center (150 Greenwich Street)
Developer Larry Silverstein’s 4 World Trade Center will soon top out at 977 feet. The 72-story tower, which is slated to open at the end of this year, was designed by Maki and Associates, and one-third of its office space will house the new headquarters of the Port Authority. Maki’s “minimalist” design was implemented to “assume an understated, reverent position” opposite the World Trade Center memorial, according to the WTC’s website.

Seven World Trade Center

7 World Trade Center
Seven World Trade Center was the first tower to be rebuilt at Ground Zero. Silverstein’s 1.7 million-square-foot, 52-story office building, which was completed in 2006, replaced his existing building of the same name, which was destroyed in the 2001 attacks. The fact that it’s now completely leased — tenants include German lender WestLB, law firm WilmerHale and investment firm MSCI — has been touted as a symbol of post–Sept. 11 recovery in the Financial District.

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