Think Locally, Act Globally
With international buyers driving a revival in lower Manhattan living after a long pause in major residential construction, a cosmopolitan presence was critical for a landmark new tower in Tribeca. Despite a three-year delay between conception and construction, we made sure that the building stayed a current part of the conversation—enabling development to go forward. Acknowledging but not exploiting its designers' worldwide stardom, we assembled an iconic prose-poem of data and features that matched the structure's actual outline, and raised its global profile.
A New Global Landmark
Any single floor evokes Mies van der Rohe’s masterpiece of almost-nothingness, the 1951 Farnsworth House, in Plano, Illinois—a transparent slice of space sandwiched between slender white slabs. Here, the architects offer a hectic revision of Miesian asceticism, adapted for a site where the Manhattan grid slackens into Tribeca’s loose weave of streets. They churn out dozens of variations on the Farnsworth idea, then take all those horizontal nests and pile them giddily toward the clouds. The shaft bristles with irregularly arranged balconies. Floor heights vary and the corners keep cutting away. The tower appears to get simultaneously narrower and wider toward the top, where the blocks are fewer but bigger and set more askew. It has a purposefully haphazard look, like a stack of books of different sizes that haven’t been aligned.
There’s a canny intelligence behind the mess. From far away, the building looks like a pointillist notion of a skyscraper, with smudgelike windows and decks threatening to flee the lines. Zoom in on it, though, and the details snap into focus. Volumes interlock with satisfying precision, deep balconies create a painterly contest of highlights and shadows, and the tower appears to be resting nonchalantly on a shiny steel pillow sculpted by Anish Kapoor. As a gentle jab at Mies’s obsessions with rectilinear smoothness, Herzog & de Meuron have scattered soft convexities in every custom detail.
-Justin Davidson , New York Magazine, 09.14.08