Shop Architects’ Gregg Pasquarelli on building big in New York

TRD subscribers heard from the architect and firm co-founder at the latest Salon Series 

Gregg Pasquarelli builds big – even when he didn’t have “a Frank Gehry budget.” 

The architect and co-founder of SHoP Architects is the creative mind behind some of New York’s towering icons. In much of the city, you just have to look up to see his fingerprints on the skyline: 111 West 57th Street. American Copper. The Brooklyn Tower on the other side of the river. 

Pasquarelli, speaking at The Real Deal’s latest Salon Series, obviously isn’t afraid to go high – even if it requires a little more flexibility.

“A building that doesn’t move, you should be very, very afraid of,” he told listeners at the Salon. “Those will fall. But a building that moves back and forth is very safe.”

Pasquarelli laid out his methods, speaking to both design practices and business principles. One theme was the ability to think outside of the binaries that limit much of the industry. Early in Pasquarelli’s career, he and his team at SHoP took a risk by crossing over from the realm of pure architecture to co-develop the Porter House in the Meatpacking District. 

“A lot of my colleagues came to me and were like, ‘Oh, my God… you’re going to the dark side,’” Pasquarelli said. “We’re not in opposition to each other. When we align, we do great work.”

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Video: Gregg Pasquarelli on Building in New York
(Photos by Paul Dilakian)

One of Pasquarelli’s most notable alignments has been with developer Michael Stern. Stern’s JDS and SHoP developed all three projects noted above together, and are developing a Mercedes-Benz branded tower in Miami as well. 

“Every time I bring up something that’s hard, and I look at him I go, ‘You know, we don’t really know how to do this, because it’s really hard and no one’s done it before.’ Michael goes, I don’t care. Let’s figure it out,” Pasquarelli said of the partnership.

A developer’s sense of risk seems to have rubbed off on Pasquarelli. He recounted working with Related Companies’ Stephen Ross, who told him that “​​you’re not a developer until you’ve gone bankrupt twice.”

“That gave me a lot of confidence to fail,” he said. “Because they’ve gone bankrupt, and look at what they’ve built right across the street [at Hudson Yards].”  

Pasquarelli spoke about innovating, implementing technology, and more. Watch the video above for the full conversation. 

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