Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Era for The Pyramid on West 57 Street

Dutch architect Bjarke Ingel’s new apartment project for Durst Fetner is probably the most exciting new project in at least a generation. The pyramid apartment building slated for 625 West 57th Street off the Hudson River, is immediately creating a sensation.

Not only is this an entirely new building typology—a smallscale-meets-high-rise residential building the likes, and shape, of which the city has never seen—but the fact that it is being pursued after the bursting (at least temporarily) of the city’s real estate bubble demonstrates that architecture is not, in fact, dead, as many had feared.

Durst Fetner Residential announced that it is officially moving forward with the stunning 600-unit rental project designed by BIG - Bjarke Ingel Group.

And stunning it is. The building is a mash-up of European and New York styles, combining a short, blocky apartments-around-a-courtyard model with a high-rise tower. The result is a sloping structure that maximizes harbor views not only for those inside the building but also the neighbors whose sightlines might also be obstructed.

It is one of the grand victories of West Side redevelopment, from the Village to Chelsea to West Harlem, that not only new housing is being built, but it is being built inside bold architecture.

In fact, this is yet another paradigm shift, as so many of those magnificent buildings, like Nouvel’s 100 11th and Gehry’s Beekman Tower in the Financial District are really just the same old apartment buildings sheathed in facade finery.

This building is an entirely new shape, a new way of living and building.

Whether we see another like it remains to be seen, but the very existance of this property, and Christian de Portzamparc’s Riverside South for Extell just to the north, is a sign of a promising future.
Still, the Dursts know they are doing something special on this site. After all, they told us they would be pursuing the same high-level of sustainable design at another development site Durst Fetner controls on Sixth Avenue between 30th and 31st streets.