Saturday, November 17, 2012

Plan to Tear Down and Rebuild 425 Park Ave

Who needs Midtown East rezoning when you have developers like David Levinson, who has a daring plan to tear down 75 percent of 425 Park Avenue and replace it with an ultra-modern office tower. The project poses an unusual challenge because the existing 32-story building is larger than current zoning allows. If the entire building was demolished, he would be forced to replace it with a smaller one. By retaining the base of the building and constructing a replacement up from there, zoning wizardry will allow 650,000 square feet.

The new building as currently conceived will reach 687 feet, considerably taller than the 370-foot structure it will be replacing. The design by Foster + Partners is interesting in part because it looks somewhat like a midcentury office tower, except that it has been judo-chopped in two spots and is now held up by giant trusses.

This not only breaks up the scale of what would likely be a massive building but also creates two terraces, an increasingly popular amenity in office towers. On the street, a rendering shows a vast plaza, providing much-needed open space - even if there is a building overhanging it - in the heart of Midtown.

Should the Midtown East Rezoning be approved, it would allow Mr. Levinson to potentially build a tower 50 percent bigger than what he already can do, but he would have to wait until 2018 to do so, because of a special provision in the rezoning to protect the development of projects at Hudson Yards and the World Trade Center, where millions more square feet of office space is already poised to come online.

Foster + Partners is best known for projects such as the  HSBC headquarters in Hong Kong and London’s Stansted airport, and their pioneering work on what is now called 'high modern architecture'. In New York,  Foster + Partners has built the new Hearst Building and the Sperrone Westwater Gallery on the Bowery as well as designing 2 World Trade Center, the second tallest building on the site.