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A Guide to Manhattan's 21st Century Skyscrapers

Updated on November 3, 2019
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Rob is an avid traveller and a keen photographer who showcases his work on Flickr and sells his images through Adobe Stock and Shutterstock.

Manhattan Skyline from the water
Manhattan Skyline from the water | Source

New York's Changing Skyline

New York is undergoing a construction boom in new super-tall and super-skinny skyscrapers that is having a major impact on the city skyline with each new tower seemingly trying to take centre and out-do its neighbours. Perhaps the area changing the fastest is the area colloquially known as 'billionaires row, around West 57th Street near Central Park. Here, architects and engineers are pushing construction methods and technology to the limits as the push ever higher on increasingly smaller footprints. Join me as I take a look at some of the incredible new buildings shooting up towards the sky in the city that never sleeps.

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center is the marque replacement building for the iconic twin towers of that destroyed in the catastrophic terrorist attack of September 11 2001. The building was designed by David Childs of SOM Architects - the practice behind the world-famous Sears Tower and the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai - and was completed in 2014. It stands at 541 meters tall with a total of 104 floors with a public viewing platform near the top. The primary use of the building is for commercial office space with a total net internal area of a whopping 3.1 million square feet. This is officially the tallest building in the United States of America.

The tallest building in America: One World Trade Center
The tallest building in America: One World Trade Center | Source

56 Leonard Street - Also Known as the Jenga Tower

This striking skyscraper situated in the Tribeca neighbourhood of Manhattan is affectionately referred to as the Jenga Building due to its stacked form with slightly protruding sides. The tower is 250 meters tall with a total of 57 storeys comprising residential condominiums. The building was designed by Swiss architecture practice, Herzog & de Meuron for developer, Izak Senbahar. In 2013 the penthouse was sold off-plan for $47 million making it, at the time, the most expensive residential dwelling ever sold outside of midtown Manhattan. The building was completed in 2017.

56 Leonard Street - AKA the Jenga Tower
56 Leonard Street - AKA the Jenga Tower | Source
Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera 24.3MP SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) w/16-50mm Power Zoom Lens
Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera 24.3MP SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) w/16-50mm Power Zoom Lens
The Sony a6000 mirrorless camera is the camera that I use and with which I took many of the photographs included in this article. It's a great camera for taking architecture pictures and comes highly recommended.

111 West 57th (111W57)

At the time of writing, this huge supertall overlooking Central Park was still under construction. It officially topped out in April 2019 but will not be fully completed until 2020 at which point it will officially be the thinnest skyscraper in the world and one of the tallest buildings in the world.

The tower has been designed by SHoP Architects and as part of their design the tower incorporates the New York City Landmark building, Steinway Hall. The building is located on what has come to be known as 'billionaires row' on West 57th Street due as a result of the eye-watering prices that these residential developments command. Reaching a height of 435 meters and 82 storeys the tower only includes a total of 60 apartments due to it's super skinny form.

111 West 57th Street Tower
111 West 57th Street Tower

Central Park Tower

One of the new breed of super-skinny, super-tall skyscrapers popping up on West 57th Street AKA billionaires row. Central Park Tower, also known as the Nordstrom Tower has been designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture for developer, Extell Development Company.

The mixed-use scheme is currently under construction at the time of writing and is due to complete in 2020. On completion it will be the second tallest skyscraper in the United States after One World Trade Center but will be the tallest residential building in the country. It will soar to a height of 472 meters and comprise 131 storeys of which 95 will feature residential dwellings.

Central Park Tower under construction in late 2019
Central Park Tower under construction in late 2019 | Source

125 Greenwich Street

125 Greenwich is a new residential skyscraper located on Liberty Street in downtown Manhattan. The sleek glass tower has been designed by world-famous 'starchitect', Rafael Vinoly. It will feature 273 residential apartments over 72 floors with a total height of 278 meters. The unusual aesthetic of exposed concrete lines running up the entire length of the buildings has proven to be a particular point of contention for many with some people arguing that it makes an otherwise attractive building look ugly.

125 Greenwich by Rafael Vinoly
125 Greenwich by Rafael Vinoly
125 Greenwich Street by Rafael Vinoly
125 Greenwich Street by Rafael Vinoly | Source

One Vanderbilt Tower

One Vanderbilt is one of a group of supertall skyscraper projects that is expected to complete in 2020 which is fast looking to be a new golden era for 21st century high-rise development in New York.

This elegant glass skyscraper sits close to Grand Central Station in midtown Manhattan. The 73-storey commercial office building has been designed by architects Kohn Pederson Fox. After a challenging planning saga the plans for the construction of this landmark building were approved by the city in 2015 and construction commenced shortly after. The tower topped out in September 2019 at a height of 427 meters. It comprises 1.6 million square feet of office space.

One Vanderbilt Tower in Midtown
One Vanderbilt Tower in Midtown

432 Park Avenue

432 Park was the first of the current glut of super-skinny super-tall skyscrapers to spring up in Manhattan for in the early part of the 21st Century. It's simple square form has become an instant landmark in the city and features in images of New York seen around the world.

Reaching a height of 425 meters and comprising 125 condos over 88 floors the tower is a marvel of engineering and design. To ensure it's stability given its relative slenderness the tower features 2 uninhabited floors at between every 12 floors of inhabitable space. These voids allow wind to pass through the gaps and prevent the building from swaying in high winds.

The building was designed by leading architect, Rafael Vinoly and was officially completed in 2015.

The slender splendour of 432 Park Avenue
The slender splendour of 432 Park Avenue | Source

Let me hear your thoughts on Mahattan's changing skyline

What do you think about Manhattan's new Super-tall Skyscrapers?

See results

53W53 Residential Skyscraper

The 53W53 residential skyscraper, formerly known as Tower Verre, is located on West 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan. It is a super-tall mixed-use tower comprising residential apartments above Museum of Modern Art gallery space and restaurants. The tower was designed by Jean Nouvel and commenced construction in 2014. It officially topped out in August 2018 at a height of 320 meters making it one of the tallest buildings in the city. The building comprises 144 residences over 77 floors.

53W53 skyscraper in Mahattan
53W53 skyscraper in Mahattan

Special Mention to Hudson Yards

The Hudson Yards development in West Midtown is a multi billion dollar development led by developer, Related Companies. Whilst the developer has worked with some of the world's leading architects including, David Childs of SOM and Diller Scofido+Renfro to create a number very tall skyscrapers, many people have been critical of the architecture on display with many calling it bland and soulless.

It's a fun place to visit as a tourist due in large part to The Vessel sculpture designed by British architect, Thomas Heatherwick and for brand new international arts complex, The Shed which opened in April 2019.

It remains to be seen whether New Yorkers will take to this area and whether it can be properly embedded into the fabric of the city. It helps matters that the Highline elevated park can be accessed from here though and it does have its own stop on the subway system.

The towering skyscrapers at the Hudson Yards development in Manhattan
The towering skyscrapers at the Hudson Yards development in Manhattan | Source

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article about some of the new supertall skyscrapers being delivered in Manhattan. If you like what you have seen please leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Robert Clarke


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