53W53: Manhattan's Modern Masterpiece | The B1M

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07:58   |   May 02, 2018


53W53: Manhattan's Modern Masterpiece | The B1M
53W53: Manhattan's Modern Masterpiece | The B1M thumb 53W53: Manhattan's Modern Masterpiece | The B1M thumb 53W53: Manhattan's Modern Masterpiece | The B1M thumb


  • New York City is synonymous with the skyscraper.
  • Since the late 19th Century, each economic cycle and architectural trend has driven a
  • different era of high-rise development, resulting in the iconic skyline we know today.
  • Now, as demand for luxury residential property in Manhattan is far out-stripping the availability
  • of land, super-skinny towers with a width-to-height ratio greater than 1:7 are ushering in a new age.
  • Rising from a narrow site, between an existing 40 storey office tower and New York’s Museum
  • of Modern Art, 53 West 53rd Street has been more than a decade in the making.
  • In 2006, New York City’s Museum of Modern Art began exploring ways to develop a small
  • site they owned adjacent to their main buildings in midtown.
  • Their idea was make the land available for development, funding an expansion of the museum
  • onto part of the site.
  • With demand for high-end residential properties in Manhattan exceeding the amount of land available
  • a super-skinny high-rise tower was conceived, maximising floor area and value from the development.
  • Named after its 53 West 53rd Street address, the tower is officially known as “53W53”
  • and is located just a stone's throw away from the city’s emerging “Billionaires Row”
  • and Central Park.
  • Originally proposed to stand 381m or 1,250 feet tall – the same height as the Empire
  • State Building – the original designs for the tower were rejected by city planners who
  • considered it to be an over-development of such a small site and who raised concerns
  • regarding the large shadow it would cast over Central Park.
  • Taking these concerns on board, the project team re-submitted plans for a shorter 320
  • metre, 1050 foot tower.
  • The New York City Planning Commission approved the development in 2009, on the condition
  • that enough surrounding air rights were purchased to offset the extreme height of the new tower
  • and to ensure that neighbouring sites could not be developed to the same extent in the future.
  • The result for the development, would be a skyscraper that could offer its residents
  • breath-taking views of the city, without the risk of them becoming obstructed by neighbouring buildings.
  • Shortly after this breakthrough, the project was put on hold as the world wrestled with
  • the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and as developer confidence receded.
  • Despite this setback, the project’s developers – Hines and Goldman Sachs – used the downtime
  • to begin purchasing air rights from a number of the tower’s adjoining sites – including
  • the University Club of New York, St Thomas’ Church and the sites former owner; the Museum
  • of Modern Art.
  • With an eventual resurgence in the property market some years later, developers formed
  • a joint venture with the Pontiac Land Group to resurrect the project.
  • With the last air rights secured and the city planner’s pre-conditions satisfied, construction
  • of the tower commenced in 2014.
  • Situated within three separate zoning districts, each with its own height and setback regulations,
  • the tower’s architect Jean Nouvel had to take a number of factors into account when conceiving
  • 53 West 53rd’s design.
  • The result in an impressive and uniquely formed structure that interprets its context, tapers
  • in at different angles as it rises, and that does not feel overbearing from street level.
  • The tower offers 149 residences across its 77 floors, ranging from one to four bedroom
  • apartments and a 617-square meter two level penthouse at its summit.
  • With an extreme width-to-height ratio of 1:12, the tower’s structural engineering is considerably complex.
  • From foundations that extend deep into Manhattan Island’s underlying bedrock,
  • the tower rises around a high strength reinforced concrete core with an impressive diagrid structure
  • supporting its perimeter façade.
  • This eliminates the need for internal columns within the high-end residences, improving
  • flexibility of the layouts whilst creating sweeping views.
  • Whilst the tower’s diagrid perimeter was originally planned in steel, the floor-to-floor
  • heights this offered were limiting.
  • Instead, the project team developed the structural elements in reinforced concrete.
  • Some of the connections between these structural members are extremely complex, with as many
  • as 8 different elements converging into a single node in some instances.
  • The steel reinforcement for such junctions and was so complicated that the project team
  • constructed full scale mock-ups before construction commenced.
  • This ensured that the designs that had developed would work
  • and that concrete could sufficiently cover and settle around the reinforcement.
  • 53 West 53rd is topped by a breath-taking 40 metre, 131 foot, steel and glass spire
  • that offers a modern interpretation of New York’s famous tapering summits whilst obscuring
  • a feature that is key to the tower’s structural integrity; a 650-tonne tuned mass damper between
  • the 74th and 76th floors.
  • The residences within 53 West 53rd re-define luxury living.
  • With prices starting from $3M USD for a one bedroom apartment,
  • the tower’s two-level penthouse can be yours for $70M USD.
  • Designed with solid American oak flooring, top of the range appliances and marble countertops
  • – to name just a few features – residents also have access to a range of amenities including
  • a library, state of the art theatre, pool and a private wine lounge.
  • They’ll also gain benefactor membership with the neighbouring Museum of Modern Art
  • as part of its 39,000-square foot expansion into the lower three levels of the tower.
  • Though not officially on “Billionaires Row” – which is broadly located to the north
  • of 57th Street – 53 West 53rd is recognised as one of New York’s most exclusive new
  • residential addresses, thanks to its incredible design, proximity to Central Park and the
  • views it offers of the city skyline.
  • Once complete in late 2018, 53 West 53rd will join 432 Park Avenue and the emerging 111
  • West 57th, as Manhattan’s newest super-skinny, luxury residential tower; the latest step
  • in the ever-continuing evolution of the world’s most famous skyline.
  • If you enjoyed this video and would like to get more from the definitive video channel for construction,
  • subscribe to The B1M.

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New York City's latest super-skinny residential tower - 53 West 53rd Street, or "53W53" - has been more than a decade in the making. For more by The B1M subscribe now: http://ow.ly/GxW7y

Read the full story on this video, including images and useful links, here: http://www.theb1m.com/video/53w53-manhattans-modern-masterpiece

WATCH MORE ON NEW YORK'S SKYSCRAPERS: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEmWzqc0D6MhrzTTS8q-ke5tCMl9UFEG6

Images courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Hayes Davidson, Diller Scofido and Renfro, Atelier Jean Nouvel, Google, VUW Studio, Hines, Ozier Muhammad of the The New York Times, Giles Ashford, Stressteel Engineering Services (SES), Evan Bindelglass, Timothy Hursley and nyconstructionphoto.com.

More from Hayes Davidson: https://www.hayesdavidson.com

More from Giles Ashford: http://www.gilesashford.com

More from NY Construction Photography: http://www.nyconstructionphoto.com

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