Jean Nouvel's Tower Verre next to MoMA at 53 West 53rd Street: so big, so expensive! New skyscraper proposals are dropping like flies, and in the post-boom era, it's "time to rethink the tall buildings that have become synonymous with New York City's identity," architect John Beckmann argues. And so Beckmann and his firm, Axis Mundi, have done just that, unveiling a conceptual alternative design for 53 West 53rd Street that aims to put Nouvel in his place?Paris, or something. The "Vertical Neighborhood" is 30 stories shorter than Nouvel's 82-story hotel/condo/galleries contraption, but makes up for that difference in sheer, outright lunacy. It's "an assemblage of disparate architectural languages," duh. Want to know more?
From Axis Mundi's fingers straight to your eyeballs:
The architectural diversity Beckmann envisions starts with a double-ring, multi-level floor-plan unit, anchored by two cores that run the full height of the building, containing elevators, stairs and other vertical services.
The ring units called "SmartBlocks" make possible a wide variety of floor plans. Single-unit layouts can mix with duplex, or triplex layouts. The units can shift in and out, adding rich texture to the surface, creating vertical garden space, and linking the units in unique ways.
The malleability of the ring units accommodates living and working, extended families, and new forms of tenancy and ownership. Any grouping of these could be purposed for a hotel. The building is enriched by the multiplicity of forms and textures people create within their vertical neighborhoods.
By varying the mix of the floor plan units, the Axis Mundi design leaves space for vertical fissures that move irregularly up the tower. These bring light and breezes into the open centers of the double-ring units and frame spectacular, theatrical vistas to the city through the building's own structure. Neighbors can see and greet each other along spacious bridges and balconies rather than scurry by each other in long, dark hallways.
"Historically, the skyscraper was a unitary, homogeneous form that reflected the generic, flexible office space it contained," Beckmann says. "The Vertical Neighborhood is more organic and more flexible--an assemblage of disparate architectural languages. It reflects an emerging reality for tall buildings as collections of domestic elements: dwellings, neighborhoods, streets."
Yes, now it all makes perfect sense! Will 53 West 53rd developer Hines fall in love with the Axis Mundi design and send Nouvel packing? If so, dibs on Marilyn!
· Axis Mundi [Official Site]
· All Tower Verre coverage [Curbed]