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2017 Summer

Instructor: Mariana Ibanez

Partner: Nuo Xu

79th St, New York, NY

Buildings nowadays are so much taller and thinner than before. Maybe because of the growth of population density, and urban sprawl, but mainly because we can build them that way. Our project begins by questioning "tallness" as the main architectural strategy for future developments. Particularly in a place like Manhattan, big, but eventually running out of space, or shall we say, running out of ground space. 

If one of the key characteristics of Manhattan is its skyline, rather than adding to it, we are interested in operating within it, and finding opportunities to build in the air. This air, however is not just open, unspecific space; it is highly determined, and varied based on which section of the skyline we are looking at. 

Our project proposes a strategy, where new program, of multiple scales, densities, and dedicated to different constituencies exists within the skyline, so as to provoke a discussion of the relationships between architecture, infrastructure, landscape, and urban density as an interdependent design act.

NYC, as the most populous city in the United States, is one of the cities that has the most dramatic skyline in the world. From The Empire State Building, to the One world trade center, NYC is home to over 6,154 completed high-rises, and 113 of which are 600 feet or taller. Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world from 1931-1972, but then was replaced by the World Trade Center...As you can see, the trend is clear: Let’s grow higher. As it becomes taller and taller, the footprint is changing in the opposite direction. 

There are two major characteristics of the highrise buildings in NY. Height, is the most remarkable one. For example, 432 Park Avenue is the tallest residential building in NYC. It is so high that if you live on the top, you are so isolated from the population and all the urban life. Architects seem to be obsessed with occupying the sky and building above the skyline to respond to the density. However, there are still large spaces within the skyline that gives us opportunity to test a possibility within it. 

Another characteristic of New York’s highrise building is the recession from the street. The Seagram Building, is a perfect example of this strategy. The whole building is recessed from the street so that there is a large public space on the ground level. So we were wondering if we can reconsider the space of the Seagram and make more public space on different levels so as to adapt to the urban densification. 

In this way, using the terrace strategy, by push and pull, we are able to get more public space in different levels. That gives us a hint to rethink how we could occupy the sky. 


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