Today's avalanche of big news continues with word that the City Planning Commission has just approved Tower Verre, French starchitect Jean Nouvel's pointy skyscraper of hotel rooms, apartments and galleries planned for an empty lot next to the Museum of Modern Art on West 53rd Street. But there's a catch. The mighty commission, under boss Amanda Burden, has told Nouvel and the development team to chop 200 feet off the building's height. The current design for 53 West 53rd Street calls for a tower 1250' tall, over 80 stories. This has led to opposition from some Midtown neighbors worried about being plunged into eternal darkness, and in response Nouvel himself has turned up during the land-use review process to campaign on his own behalf (complete coverage here). So why did the City Planning Commission mess with Nouvel's masterpiece?
According to an earlier version of this Observer story that now appears to have been updated, the CPC was wary about the building rising to the same height as the Empire State Building (not including the ESB's spire). Why? Because Nouvel's crown can't compete. The Observer's Eliot Brown writes:
As for the 200-foot chop, it seems Ms. Burden and her staff were less than thrilled about the looks of the air conditioning and other mechanicals atop the tower in the current design. Per a City Planning statement issued Sept. 8, the top, with what would be the city’s highest occupied floors, was marked by “highly visible mechanical equipment”—apparently enough to cost the developer the super-tall crown.Of course there's no money to build this thing right now, but when there is, the CPC wants to hold developer Hines to its word. Having been burned by the Frank Gehry switcheroo at Atlantic Yards, Burden will "layer on a set of regulations aimed at handcuffing the developer to its current design." Hey, we're cool with that. But is the opposition appeased?
· Burdened! Jean Novel Tower Expected to Feel Planning Commish’s 200-Foot Chomp [NYO]
· 53 West 53rd Street coverage [Curbed]