The future of New York’s skyline, from 2,000-foot skyscrapers to shape-shifting towers

(Illustration by Guy Parsons)
(Illustration by Guy Parsons)

From the Archives: The Hudson Yards Culture Shed, a yet-to-be-built arts and performance space at 10 Hudson Yards, just might wind up being the Batmobile of buildings. Dormant, it’s a glassy fortress. Animated, it will be able to extend its wings so-to-speak by sliding out a retractable exterior as a canopy.

The design is a window into the future of New York City construction — and the role technology will play. This isn’t to say that a fleet of moving buildings will invade New York anytime soon, but the projects of the future will be smarter, more adaptive and, of course, more awe-inspiring.

“I think you’re going to start having more and more facades that are more kinetic, that react to the environment,” said Tom Scarangello, CEO of Thornton Tomasetti, a New York-based engineering firm that’s working on the Culture Shed.

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For example, Westfield’s Oculus, the World Trade Center’s new bird-like transit hub, features a retractable skylight whose function is more symbolic than practical: It opens only on Sept. 11.

As a whole, developers are moving away from the shamelessly reflective glass boxes of the past, instead opting for transparent-yet-textured buildings as well as slender, soaring towers à la Billionaires’ Row.

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